Maersk grabs the headlines with launch of Triple-Es

Never before has a cargo vessel been built under such a glare of publicity.

Today will see the first of Maersk Line’s Triple-E ships named at a ceremony in South Korea, an event that is certain to attract plenty of attention well beyond the maritime world.

Rarely do ships grab the headlines in the way that this newest arrival will as it enters service. Expect to see crowds of sightseers at every port of call.

From the moment former Maersk Line chief executive Eivind Kolding unveiled the .9bn order for a series of 18,000 teu vessels at a slick and glitzy press conference in London nearly 30 months ago, construction of these newbuildings has been followed every step of the way.

The ships even have their own website, while social media has been used extensively to raise their profile even more. The Discovery Channel will be broadcasting series on the Triple-Es later in the year.

The Danish line is no stranger to pioneering ship designs. Maersk was the first to break the 6,000 teu barrier with the 1996-built, 318 m long Regina Maersk. Nearly a decade later came the 397 m Emma Maersk.

But what a difference between the arrival of those two ship classes and the Triple-Es.

Those earlier groundbreakers, both built at AP Moller-Maersk’s former inhouse shipyard at Lindø in Denmark, were cloaked in secrecy.

Although Maersk Line said the cargo-carrying capacity of Regina Maersk was 6,000 teu, it was tightlipped about the deadweight. In reality, the nominal intake of the ship was about 6% larger than stated at the time, at nearer 6,400 teu.

Emma Maersk was officially declared at around 11,000 teu. Only relatively recently did Maersk Line admit what the industry already knew; that they can theoretically carry 15,5o0 teu. That helped to scale back the relative size of the Triple-Es, with Maersk able to say the additional capacity was fairly modest.