A ship larger than an American aircraft carrier was just launched and has started making U.S. port visits. In total, the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin is 20 stories tall and can transport over 18,000 shipping containers. To put it into perspective, the ship is larger than the Empire State Building, a previous holder of the title world's tallest building. A custom port loading crane as well as docking area was built in order to accommodate such a large ship. Many U.S. ports are too small to handle these monster container ships, so ships of this magnitude have traditionally not been common in the area.
[Image Source: POLB]
Constructed in China, and owned by the French shipping company CMA CGM, the ship is one of multiple foreign origins. Most recently, the ship moored at the Port of Long Beach, one of the few American ports that could handle the ship. It isn't just having a spot big enough for the Benjamin Franklin, ports also need cranes capable of lifting several ton containers 10 stories in the air.
As cargo and container ships continue to grow larger, it has many port authorities pushing for increased funding to improve harbors. Most recently, the Long Beach Port secured US$4.6 Billion to build a large "middle terminal" capable of handling a ship even larger than the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin as well as other improvements. Having a bigger port means that larger ships can call that port home, increasing exports and imports, therefore increasing income.
The maximum load capacity of the container ship has a volume is 590,000 cubic meters, or 235 Olympic swimming pools. It takes a crew of 26 men to run what is essentially a small town, complete with its own waste recycling system.
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At max power the ship can achieve 21 knots of thrust "equivalent to that of 11 Boeing 747-400 engines (3,000 KNewton)," according to CMA CGM. Over 23 meters of the ships length is taken up by the engine, capable of supplying the necessary power. As the shipping industry grows, the need for transporting more cargo in one trip increases in demand. The engineering of these monster ships will continue to grow more impressive and already the market has led to the production of the world's largest engine.