Maersk Triple E-class container ship

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Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller.jpg
Triple E-class container ship Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller
Class overview
Builders: Daewoo Shipbuilding
Operators: Maersk
Preceded by: Mærsk E class
Building: 4
Planned: 31
Completed: 27
Active: 27
Laid up: 2
General characteristics
Type: Container ship
Tonnage: 165,000 DWT
Displacement: 55,000 tonnes (empty)[1]
Length: 400 m (1,312 ft)
Beam: 59 m (194 ft)
Draft: 16 m (52 ft)
Decks: 4
Propulsion: Twin MAN engines, 32,000 kilowatts (43,000 hp) each
Speed: Design cruise: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) Max: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Capacity: 18,340 TEU
Notes: Cost $185 million[1]

The Maersk Triple E-class container ships comprise a family of very large container ships of more than 18,000 TEU.

With a length of 400 m (1,312 ft), when they were built they were the largest container ships in the world, but were subsequently surpassed by larger ones such as CSCL Globe.[2][3]

In February and June 2011, Maersk awarded Daewoo Shipbuilding two US$1.9 billion contracts ($3.8bn total) to build twenty of the ships.

The name "Triple E" is derived from the class's three design principles: "Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved". These ships are expected to be not only the world's longest ships in service, but also the most efficient container ships per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) of cargo.

The ships are 400 metres (1,312 ft) long and 59 metres (194 ft) wide. While only 3 metres (9.8 ft) longer and 4 metres (13 ft) wider than the Mærsk E class, the Triple E ships are able to carry 2,500 more containers. With a beam of 59 metres (194 ft), they are too wide to traverse the Panama Canal, but can transit the Suez Canal.

One of the class's main design features is its dual 32-megawatt (43,000 hp) ultra-long stroke two-stroke diesel engines, driving two propellers at a design speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). This class is by design slower than its predecessors, using a strategy known as slow steaming expected to lower fuel consumption by 37% and carbon dioxide emissions per container by 50%. The Triple E design helped Maersk win a "Sustainable Ship Operator of the Year" award in July 2011.

Maersk plans to use the ships to service routes between Europe and Asia, projecting that Chinese exports will continue to grow. European-Asian trade represents the company's largest market; it already has 100 ships serving this route.

Orders and history[edit]

In February 2011 Maersk announced orders for a new "Triple E" family of container ships with a capacity of 18,000 TEU, with an emphasis on lower fuel consumption.[4] They were built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in South Korea; the initial order, for ten ships, was valued at US$1.9 billion (2 trillion Korean Won);[5] Maersk had options to buy a further twenty ships.[6] In June 2011 Maersk announced that 10 more ships had been ordered for $1.9bn,[7] but an option for a third group of ten ships would not be exercised.[8] Payment of the ship is "tail-heavy": 40% while the ship is being built, and the remaining 60% paid on delivery.[9] Deliveries were scheduled to begin in 2013.[10] Maersk negotiated a two-year warranty, where the standard is one year.[1]

Prior to 2010 many Maersk container ships had been built at Maersk's Odense Steel Shipyard in Denmark, but Asian builders had become more competitively priced.[11] Maersk had approached several different builders in Asia, having ruled out European shipbuilders on grounds of cost, and Chinese on technological grounds.[12][13] DSME builds three Triple-Es at a time, and it takes little more than a year to produce a ship.[1]

Investment in more efficient ships helped Maersk win the "Sustainable Ship Operator of the Year" award from Petromedia Group's on-line publication in July 2011.[14]

In 2015 Maersk ordered an additional series of 11 Triple E-class ships, due to be delivered from 2017 onwards. The First ship is the Madrid Maersk. She went on her maiden voyage to antwerp. [15]


Section of a Triple E-class ship, under construction
Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller docked on the Aarhus harbour (2013)
Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, passing through Suez
Mathilde Mærsk on the river Elbe in the August 2015
Maersk Triple E class
No. Ship Yard number IMO number Delivery Status
1 Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller 4250 9619907 July 2013[16][17] in service
2 Majestic Mærsk 4251 9619919 July 2013 in service[18]
3 Mary Mærsk 4252 9619921 August 2013 in service[19]
4 Marie Mærsk 4253 9619933 September 2013 in service
5 Madison Mærsk 4254 9619945 October 2013 in service
6 Magleby Mærsk 4255 9619957 November 2013 in service
7 Maribo Mærsk 4256 9619969 January 2014 in service
8 Marstal Mærsk 4257 9619971 April 2014 in service
9 Matz Mærsk 4258 9619983 June 2014 in service
10 Mayview Mærsk 4259 9619995 June 2014 in service
11 Merete Mærsk 4262 9632064 August 2014 in service
12 Mogens Mærsk 4263 9632090 September 2014 in service
13 Morten Mærsk 4264 9632105 October 2014 in service
14 Munkebo Mærsk 4265 9632117 January 2015 in service
15 Maren Mærsk 4266 9632129 March 2015 in service
16 Margrethe Mærsk 4267 9632131 April 2015 in service
17 Marchen Mærsk 4268 9632143 May 2015 in service
18 Mette Mærsk 4269 9632155 May 2015 in service
19 Marit Mærsk 4270 9632167 June 2015 in service
20 Mathilde Mærsk 4271 9632179 June 2015 in service
21 Madrid Mærsk 4302 9778791 April 2017 in service
22 Munich Mærsk 4303 9778806 June 2017 in service
23 Moscow Mærsk 4304 9778818 July 2017 in service
24 Milan Mærsk 4305 9778820 September 2017 in service
25 Monaco Mærsk 4306 9778832 November 2017 under construction
26 Marseille Mærsk 4307 9778844 under construction
27 TBA 4308 9780445 under construction
28 TBA 4309 9780457 under construction
29 TBA 4310 9780469 under construction
30 TBA 4311 9780471 under construction
31 TBA 4312 9780483 under construction
Source: Equasis,[20] grosstonnage[21]


Majestic Maersk in Copenhagen in September 2013, shortly after entering service. Maersk opened the ship up for public tours for four days. At the time this was the longest ship in service of any type.
Kayakers under the twin-skeg stern
Photo of Majestic Maersk showing the rear decks, partially populated with containers.


  • Capacity: 18,270 TEU[22][23]
  • Length: 400 metres
  • Draft: 14.5 metres
  • Beam: 59 metres
  • Height: 73 metres
  • Optimum speed: 19 knots (35 km/h)
  • Top speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)[24]
  • Deadweight: 165,000 tonnes
  • Engines: Twin MAN 8S80ME-C9.2 engines, 8-cylinders, 800 mm bore, 3450 mm stroke, rated at 29.7 MW @ 73 rpm each, with fuel consumption of 168 g/kWh[25] (21,200 gallons per day)[26]
  • Propellers: Twin propellers, with 4 blades, 9.8 m in diameter[27]


Unlike conventional single-engined container ships, the new class of ships has a twin-skeg design: it has twin diesel engines, each driving a separate propeller. Usually, a single engine is more efficient,[12] but using two propellers allows a better distribution of pressure, which increases the propeller efficiency more than the disadvantage of using two engines.[28]

The engines have waste heat recovery (WHR) systems; these are also used in 20 other Mærsk vessels including the eight E-class ships. The name "Triple E class" refers to three design principles: "Economy of scale, energy efficient and environmentally improved".[22]

The twin-skeg principle also means that the engines can be lower and further back, allowing more room for cargo. Maersk requires ultra-long stroke two-stroke engines running at 80 rpm (versus 90 rpm in the E class);[29] but this requires more propeller area for the same effect, and such a combination is only possible with two propellers due to the shallow water depth of the desired route.[13][27]

A slower speed of 19 knots is designed, compared to the 23–26 knots of similar ships.[13] The top speed would be 25 knots, but steaming at 20 knots would reduce fuel consumption by 37%, and at 17.5 knots fuel consumption would be halved.[24] These slower speeds would add 2–6 days to journey times.[30]

The various environmental features are expected to cost $30 million per ship, of which the WHR is to cost $10 million.[12] Carbon dioxide emissions, per container, are expected to be 50% lower than emissions by typical ships on the Asia-Europe route[31] and 20% lower than Emma Maersk.[32] These are the most efficient container ships per TEU in the world. A cradle-to-cradle design principle was used to improve scrapping when the ships end their life.[33]

The Madrid Maersk and subsequent ships in the series use electric motor-generator sets to improve operation.[34]

Dimensions and layout[edit]

Some of the longest ships ever built.

The ships are the world's longest currently in service.[35][36] A few larger ships have been built, but they were all oil supertankers and have now been scrapped;[36] Seawise Giant was the largest of all.[37][38] The Triple E series and its competitors often leapfrog each other for capacity as the types are updated with new ships larger than their sisters. For a while, Madrid Maersk with 20,568 TEU had the world's largest capacity until superseded by the 21,100 TEU OOCL Hong Kong.[39]

The hull is more 'boxy' with a U cross-section compared to the V-shape of Maersk's E class; this allows more containers to be stored at lower levels so, while the Triple E class is only 3 m (9.8 ft) wider and 4 m (13 ft) longer, it can carry 2,500 (16%) more containers. The Triple E class can carry 23 rows of containers compared to 22 of the E class, which makes better use of the reach of current terminal cranes.[12]

The deckhouse is relatively further forward, whilst the engines are to the rear; similar to CMA CGM's Explorer class of containerships, also built by Daewoo.[40] The forward deckhouse allows containers to be stacked higher in front of the bridge, further increasing capacity while maintaining forward visibility sufficient to comply with SOLAS regulation V/22.

The Triple E-class vessels are operated by a crew of 13, while the even larger Globe class requires 31 on board.[41]

When the class was ordered, no port in the Americas could handle ships of their size.[42] Suitable ports include Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Qingdao, Yantian, Hong Kong, Tanjung Pelepas, Singapore and Colombo in Asia, and Rotterdam, Gothenburg, Wilhelmshaven,[43] Bremerhaven, Southampton, London Gateway, Le Havre, Felixstowe, Gdańsk, Antwerp and Algeciras in Europe. The ships will be too big for the New Panamax-sized locks on the Panama Canal,[42] and their main route is expected to be Asia-Europe (through the Suez Canal).[44] The draft of the Triple E class is 14.5 metres (48 ft), less than the SuezMax requirement of 55.9 ft (17.0 m) at 59 m (194 ft) beam.[45] Handling equipment at ports was the main constraint on size, rather than the dimensions of canals or straits.[12] The container port handling speed can be 29 moves per hour in Tanger-Med,[46] or 37 in Rotterdam (215 per ship).[47] Anchor and mooring winch systems are being supplied by TTS Marine.[48]


A computer-generated image of a ship underway

Maersk plans to use the ships on routes between Europe and Asia.[36] In 2008 there was a reduction in demand for container transport caused by recessions in many countries. This left shipping lines in financial difficulties in 2009, with surplus capacity. Some ships were laid up or scrapped. However, there was a sudden resurgence of demand for container transport in 2010; Maersk posted its largest ever profit,[49] and orders for new ships increased, leading to fresh concerns about future overcapacity.[50] The market was still characterized by overcapacity and decreasing prices for new ships in 2013. China Shipping Container Lines ordered five ships with a capacity of 18,400 TEU[51] from Hyundai Heavy Industries,[52] topping the Triple E class, with delivery from late 2014.[51] United Arab Shipping Company has ordered (also from Hyundai) five slightly larger ships and five ships larger than the Maersk E class.[52] Several other larger ships have been ordered by the industry.[53]

Slow steaming, as used by the Triple E class, is one way of managing capacity and reducing fuel consumption. The order for many big ships is a gamble on Maersk's part that Chinese exports will continue to grow.[36] Lack of market growth in the second half of 2012 caused Maersk to postpone a decision on how to use the Triple E class. Five Triple E-class vessels were to be delivered in 2013, with an impact sometime in 2014 with eight or nine Triple E-class vessels operating.[54] Maersk already uses approximately 100 ships on the Asia-Europe route, which is their most important.[30] SeaIntel expects about 46 ships with more than 10,000 TEU each to be delivered worldwide in 2013.[55] The construction of newer, larger ships has influenced development plans at ports such as London Gateway and JadeWeserPort in Wilhelmshaven (Germany),[56] and Algeciras and Tanjung had bigger cranes installed. The maximum number of TEUs carried in one trip was 18,024 in January 2015, in Algeciras, Spain.[57]

See also[edit]


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  9. ^ Pay on delivery Dagbladet Børsen, 22 February 2011. Accessed: 14 August 2011.
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  17. ^ "First Triple-E Vessel 'Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller' Delivered". SeaNews Turkey. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  18. ^ Annie Zhu. "Majestic Maersk Makes Maiden Call at Ningbo Port" Journal of Commerce, 20 August 2013. Accessed: 22 September 2013.
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  51. ^ a b "Vessel ordering mania – why?" Container Insight Weekly, 30 June 2013. Accessed: 1 September 2013.
  52. ^ a b "UASC places US$1.4B boxship contract" World Cargo News, 30 August 2013. Accessed: 1 September 2013.
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  56. ^ "UK: DP World to Spend USD 2.5 Billion on London Deepwater Gateway". Dredging Today. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  57. ^ "[1]"

External links[edit]

External media
Construction photos. More construction photos
Diagrams & comparisons
Official media library
Triple-E at Langelinie
On board at Gdańsk
MMM sailing under the Great Belt Bridge. Another gallery
Time-lapse video
MMM sailing under the Great Belt Bridge
Production video