Last Updated on July 1, 2023
The Evergreen Ever Ace is currently the largest shipping container in the world. But how much do you know about this amazing ship? In this article, we’re going to share some interesting facts about the Ever Ace, and the container shipping industry as a whole.
Why are container ships so important for global trade?
Container ships are used to move cargo around the world. Because most goods are transported in shipping containers, the ships that move transport them between countries have to be large. A container ship can carry tens of thousands of containers at any one time.
The more containers that can be moved at one time, on one ship, the more efficient the freight system becomes. Transporting as many containers as possible on one ship can also save fuel.
Shipping containers have been in use since the 1950s. It seems strange now that cargo used to be moved around the word in any way other than in containers. Shipping Containers are secure, water-tight and incredibly strong. So when they started being used for international shipping their popularity snowballed.
Introducing the Evergreen Ever Ace – the biggest container ship in the world (for now)
The capacity of the Ever Ace is quite astonishing, with a capacity of 23,992 to 24,004 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit). So in theory that’s as many as 24,000 20ft containers! In reality, it is unlikely that there would be a time when only 20ft containers were loaded onto any ship. Containers are always a mix of 20ft containers, 40ft containers and several other variations.
The Ever Ace is around 400 metres long, which is the length of four football pitches, and 58 metres wide, which is roughly five times the width of a football pitch!
You already know that the Evergreen Ever Ace is the largest container ship in the world, but it might not hold that title for long. There are many similar ships in use around the world that might not be as large as the Ever Ace, but it probably won’t be long before a larger ship is built.
How are container ships built?
Many different companies build shipping container ships around the world, and when we look at the names of the builders, you might be surprised to learn that they are names you might recognise. For example, the Ever Ace was built by Samsung Heavy Industries. Other large builders include Hyundai and Daewoo. Like a lot of large companies in the world, the product you associate with the brand may not be the whole story. For example, Electrolux make a lot of money from salt mines!
The process of building these behemoth ships is complex and usually takes over a year from start to finish, and often much longer. The amount of steel and other materials required to build a ship is colossal. In fact, everything about the construction of shipping container ships is massive.
One of the most complex parts of any ship is the engines, and you might be surprised to know that a lot of cargo ships use diesel engines, although the type of diesel is different to the diesel you might put in your car. Imagine how big the bill would be if you filled up the tank of a shipping container at your local petrol station! The reward points from your loyalty card would be fantastic, but manoeuvring the ship back out of the forecourt would be a nightmare!
How might container ships change in the future?
The biggest change to the way container ships are built is likely to be around what fuels them. Diesel is a fossil fuel, and as such it pollutes and has a reputation for being inefficient. One option for an alternative power source might be the sun. Ships like the Ever Ace have a huge surface area that could be covered in solar panels, which in turn could drive electric engines.
As mentioned at the start of this article, the world of shipping containers operates on, and profits from improving efficiency. So if a fuel other than diesel is significantly cheaper then it is likely at some point we’ll see large ships move way from burning fossil fuels.
This article has been a brief introduction to the fascinating world of the Evergreen Ever Ace and other massive container ships. If you would like to learn more there are a great deal of great places online to look for more information.
So the next time you see a shipping container on the back of a lorry on the road, or even if you visit one of the huge British ports like Felixstowe, you might pause and give some thought to the huge scale of these fascinating ships.
Evergreen Ever Ace photo by Wolfgang Fricke, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons