Shipping leviathans of the future....

Following on from my article regarding the 50,000 TEU vessels that McKinsey are predicting in the next fifty years, I decided to look a little more into the practicalities of such vessels. Please bear in mind that I am NOT a Naval Architect!


Given the current terminal infrastructure, vessels can only get longer, unless terminals are willing to invest in ever larger cranes. For me, this is unsustainable but let's have a look at the current situation.


Please Right Click the picture for the full image:

At present, the limitations on vessels are the outreach of the cranes, the height of the cranes and the draft of the terminal. The above profile would be the equivalent of todays 18,000 to 22,000 TEU vessels.


For a size comparison, the below image compares a 10,000 TEU vessel with an 18,000 TEU vessel:


Please Right Click the picture for the full image:



So far so good. The larger vessels can be used on mainline services, the smaller vessels can be used as feeder vessels. See also our article on Hub & Spoke


So far so good but this is where it starts to get trickier. Based on the above, the first thing to consider is pushing the vessel length up to 500m. Since the assumption is that these vessels will be autonomous, we can eliminate the need for a large accommodation. Instead, I have positioned a small bridge right at the forward end of the vessel for occasions where it may be that a pilot is required.


Please Right Click the picture for the full image:

By increasing the length and eliminating the accommodation, up to 8 or 9 additional bays can be added to the design. If we also push the under deck limits, we can add additional tiers there as well:


Please Right Click the picture for the full image:


This is where we begin to encounter the practicalities of operating a vessel of this size. By only increasing the length of the vessel, I have created massive torsion problems due to the beam to length ratio. My only realistic option is to make the vessel wider. Not only does this solve the torsion issue but it helps me to get to my 50,000 TEU capacity goal.


Having solved the torsion issue, I now have to address the terminal problems, namely outreach and crane height.


Please Right Click the picture for the full image:



As can easily be seen, with current crane designs, the shaded are of the vessel is now inaccessible to the crane. As mentioned in my last post, there is always the option of turning the vessel around during operations but this is time consuming, costly and potentially risky.


Below is a comparison of 10,000, 18,000 and proposed design of a 50,000 TEU vessel:

Please Right Click the picture for the full image:

As you can see, this is a massive leap in size. Longer, Wider, Deeper & Higher.

In our next article we will examine how terminal infrastructure will need to be re-invented if the above scenario turns out to be true.



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