On Monday morning, 21 July, Mary Maersk left Algeciras, Spain on its eastward journey, bound for Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia. But this was not just any voyage. On board were no less than 17,603 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), the highest number ever loaded on a vessel.
Upgraded facilities for higher utilisation
The third vessel in the Triple-E series, Mary Maersk has a nominal capacity of 18,270 TEU, but so far that capacity has not been fully utilised. One prerequisite has been preparing the terminals for the added size, explains Carlos Arias, head of the South Europe Liner Operations Cluster.
“Algeciras has been preparing for full utilisation of the Triple-E for more than a year,” says Carlos. “This included the upgrading of four existing cranes and the arrival of four new Triple-E cranes.” He adds that the port of Tanjung Pelepas has had to make similar upgrades, and this was the first occasion where both ends were ready.
Having a full vessel means less cost due to higher utilisation. Carlos explains that moving more containers in one go allows the company to save on bunker and canal cost. A little more than half of the containers on board were empty, being repositioned for re-use in Asia.
Products for Asian consumers
Thorvald Hansen is captain on the Mary Maersk, and he tells us that the entire crew is proud of being part of a world record. “It feels very good,” he says, “and nice memories to look back on at a later stage.”
The full containers on board are loaded with a variety of products destined for Asian markets and consumers, says the captain. “We have Danish cheese, frozen pork meat from Denmark, frozen beef meat from Germany, frozen berries, chocolate and candy foodstuff, frozen fish, lobster and frozen shellfish, flower bulbs from the Netherlands, pharmaceutical products, fruits and much more.”
It has been smooth sailing on the eastbound voyage, Captain Hansen confirms. “We were a little excited to pass Suez with such a big load, but everything worked out as planned.”
According to Carlos, it will be a while before the feat can be repeated on an eastbound journey, but similar utilisations will soon be seen westbound.Mary Maersk is now underway to its next stop, Yantian, China, with a somewhat lighter load, but by the end of the month it will be steaming west again, with another full load of cargo.