Triple E – Biggest Container Ship in the World


As more and more goods are being transported from one continent to another, the prime method of transportation, container ships are also increasing in size. Currently the biggest container ship in the world, the Triple E, is being made ready to roam the seas. The ship will be operating on a route between China and Europe, transporting consumer goods to Europe and bringing back waste to China for recycling.

The giant ship, built by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding Corporation will be able to carry 18,000 containers, a number that could fill 30 trains, each a mile long. The new vessel is 400 meters long and has a weight of 165 000 tons.

Even though the Triple E is not the largest ship ever built, it will be the largest one currently in operation. The giant tankers of the 1970s and 80s were larger but most of them were scrapped after only short time in service.

The idea of transporting goods in standard containers came up in the 1950s. The first such vessel was just able to carry about 58 containers. Today’s new generation of container ships are so big that they can barely squeeze through the Suez Canal, but cannot make it through the Panama Canal. Even after the canal’s enlargement in the next few years, the biggest container ships will not be able to pass through. If container vessels get bigger they could even have problems passing through one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, the Strait of Malacca, between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra.


Maersk's Triple E - The Biggest Container Ship in the World

Maersk's Triple E - The Biggest Container Ship in the World - Maersk Line


Building such big ships creates other problems. Only very few ports around the world are ready to handle such giant vessels. They are faced with either making their harbour bigger and adjusting to the giants of the sea or watching these new container ships move on to other destinations. They will have to make harbours deeper and build new technology for loading and unloading ships as fast as possible. In addition, more space is needed to store containers, as well as better railway and road connections into the hinterland.

The world’s largest dock is being built in Antwerp, Belgium and will enable the city to handle Triple Es.  London is also building new docks east of the city.

The huge vessels are also a potential problem for the environment. While conservationists argue that more and more ships will contribute to global warming, the ship’s operators claim that such ships can carry more tonnage than before and therefore fewer voyages are needed. They are more energy efficient, but only if fully loaded. South Korea’s manufacturers state that the Triple E will reduce CO2 emissions by about 50%. It will travel at a slower speed and therefore save energy. The carbon footprint per ton of transported goods is estimated to be much lower.

Maersk, the Danish company that will be operating the Triple E has ordered 20 of the giant container ships, costing about 200 million dollars each. Many shipping experts think that the company is risking a lot and may lose money as more and more American and European companies are moving manufacturing plants back to their home countries.


Related Topics



  • adjust = make changes
  • argue = say that something is true even if many people do not believe it
  • barely = hardly
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • CO2 = carbon dioxide = gas that occurs when carbon is burned; it is one of the causes of global warming
  • connection = link
  • conservationist = person who wants to protect animals and plants
  • consumer goods = products that people buy for everyday use
  • container = a very large metal box, in which goods are packed
  • contribute = add to
  • currently = right now
  • destination = where something is going
  • dock = place where ships are loaded, unloaded or repaired
  • emission = when gas is sent into the air
  • energy efficient =to use as little fuel as possible
  • enlargement = expansion; when something is made bigger
  • environment = the world around us
  • estimate = to try to guess how big, long or fast something will be
  • even though = while
  • face with = have to manage
  • few = not many
  • giant = very big
  • goods = products
  • handle = deal with
  • harbour = port
  • hinterland = area of land that is further away from the coast
  • in addition = also
  • in service = here: in operation
  • increase = to get bigger
  • load = to put goods on a ship
  • make it = pass through
  • manufacture = make, build
  • manufacturing plant = factory
  • mile = 1.6 km
  • operator = company that runs a ship
  • pass = move
  • peninsula = piece of land that has water on three sides, but is connected to the mainland
  • port = harbour ; place where ships come to load and unload goods
  • potential = possible
  • prime = most important
  • reduce = lower
  • roam = sail across
  • route = path
  • scrap = to decide not to use something again because it is too old
  • shipping lane = paths that ships must follow
  • size = how big something is
  • squeeze = press
  • store = keep until someone needs them
  • therefore = that is why
  • tonnage = how much weight a ship can carry
  • unload = to move goods off a ship
  • vessel = ship
  • voyage = journey made by ship
  • waste = unwanted materials that are left over after you have used something
  • weight = how heavy something is