Large Container Ships

What would happen if the Emma Maersk did an MSC Napoli?

Craig Eason writing in LLOYDS LIST Friday 19 October 2007

WITH owners building container vessels of 10,000 teu and designers laying out plans for a 16,000 teu ship, salvors have again raised concern over industry ability to deal with a giant boxship casualty.

Addressing the Lloyd’s List boxship conference in Hamburg, Ian Jackson, salvage officer with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said that if one suffered a similar fate to the MSC Napoli, European countries might be unable to cope. “We had to look hard to get hold of reach stackers and cranes to lift the containers off the ship and land them,” he said.

MSC Napoli ran into trouble in January this year while in French waters on passage to South Africa. A co-ordinated response between British and French authorities saw the vessel escorted to Portland, off the English south coast, and the vessel deliberately grounded to reduce environmental impact.

“It is a success story, but if something like this happens to one of the very large containerships around northern Europe, there is nowhere such large container numbers can be landed,” Mr Jackson said. “Ports like Southampton, Felixstowe and Rotterdam are already full with regular freight.” He urged the industry to consider the problem as demand for super post-panamax vessels steamed ahead.

When built in 1992, the MSC Napoli was the largest containership in the world, an accolade now held by the Emma Maersk, which can be expected to carry more than 7,000 containers through the English Channel. It took four months to remove MSC Napoli’s 2,318 containers, a task made easier because of good weather. 

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