Maersk Line CEO Soren Skou said ships with capacities of 25,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units are possible but not practical today, and that he expects 18,000-19,000-TEU container ships to remain the largest afloat for years to come, according to a report in JOC.
Skou believes there are no design barriers that would prevent construction of a 25,000 TEU ship. However, he said: “Unless the market really starts to grow very very fast, I don’t think you're going to see 25,000-TEU ships anytime soon.
The largest container ships can be deployed only in high-volume Asia-Europe trade lanes with large ports on each end. Maersk Line claims
that it is the biggest carrier in Asia. It has 22% market share to North Europe. That means it ships around 55,000 TEU per week from Asia.
He said: “If you deploy 25,000 TEU ships, you have enough cargo for a basically two strings. That’s not a competitive product. You need to be able to offer five or six sailings per week.”
“Unless the market really starts to grow very very fast, I don’t think you're going to see 25,000-TEU ships anytime soon,” Skou said.
Maersk is about to order new ships for the first time since 2011 when it bought 20 Triple Es, then the world’s largest vessels capable of transporting the equivalent of 18,000 20-foot containers.
Skou said a decision would be made between April and June with the likelihood that more Triple Es would be ordered, possibly slightly modified to take up to 20,000 containers. Maersk has said it needs the new ships to help it maintain its market leadership up until the end of the decade.