World's largest container ship MSC Tessa delivered, made in China

The megaship can load up to 24,116 TEU containers at once.
Can Emir
MSC Tessa
MSC Tessa


The MSC Tessa mega ship from the China State Shipbuilding Corporation has been delivered to the Mediterranean Shipping Company

The mega ship can load up to 24,116 TEU containers at once, stacked up to 26 deep, on a deck area roughly equal to four football fields.

The MSC Tessa has a length and width of 1,312.3 ft (399.99 m) and 202 ft (61.5 m), respectively, and can carry over 240,000 tons of cargo. It is the first vessel to surpass that record and the first to have a capacity of more than 24,000 containers.

Yet, it's interesting to note that it nearly matches the length and width of dozens, if not hundreds, of earlier record holders in this area, dating back to the Triple-E Maersk container ship from 2011 and beyond. However, when it is replaced, most likely by the MSC Irina or MSC Loreto, which were both ordered by the same client, those ships will hold a few hundred more containers but won't be any bigger physically.

The Seawise Giant supertanker, the largest ship ever built, was 1,504.1 feet (458.45 meters) long and 225.07 feet (68.6 meters) broad. This proves that the size limit isn't at the production end. Incidentally, the Iraqi Air Force sunk the Giant in 1988. It was miraculously rescued and refurbished to return to service by 1991, and it remained in operation in some capacity until the end of 2009.

Unlike supertankers, which can discharge cargo through a large hose, container ships cannot. Machines like the MSC Tessa often have upper-size constraints set by dock facilities. These limits will likely remain in place until enough ports worldwide develop the land infrastructure to handle something larger.

18000 container capacity

The ships' designs must be significantly optimized to fit more and more on board as total tonnage and container capacity increase. It makes it all the more astonishing to learn that shipbuilders have increased capacity by just under 34 percent in the twelve years since the Maersk Triple-E held the top spot with its 18,000 container capacity.

As you might expect, considering the numbers involved, efficiency is a priority for MSC Tessa. Its main contribution in this area is an "air lubrication" system that uses bubbles to minimize drag and, according to CSSC, can cut emissions by as much as 4 percent. It's still a marine diesel, though, and it's unlikely that anything in the world of zero emissions will ever get close to these behemoths as long as no viable alternatives have been demonstrated.

By August, MSC anticipates three more identical ones, and CSSC reports that the second of four has already finished sea trials. Offshore Energy estimates that MSC spent about $600 million on the four ships.

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