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China launches world’s largest container ship


MSC Gulsun, the world’s largest container vessel by carrying capacity, set sail from north China’s port city of Tianjin on Monday, heading for northwestern Europe, China Daily reported.

With a maximum load of 224,986.4 tonnes, MSC Gulsun is capable of transporting 23,756 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), according to Jonathan Zhu, managing director of Greater China for the MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the operator of the ship.

The vessel, 399.9 meters long and 61.5 meters wide, is scheduled to arrive in northwestern Europe after visiting various ports including Qingdao, Shanghai, Algeciras, Gdansk, Kaliningrad and Rotterdam, the report said.

Its cargo during the maiden voyage include steel, furniture and chemicals, said Yu Lei, general manager of China Ocean Shipping Agency Tianjin Co. Ltd.

Zhu said the ship chose to start its maiden voyage at Tianjin Port, as it is an important gateway port of northern China that boasts broad waterways and good berthing condition, the report said.

With trade links with over 180 countries and regions, the port now plays an important role in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. Its container throughput reached 8.33 million tonnes in the first half of this year, a year-on-year growth of 6.7%, higher than the average growth of Chinese ports.

The ship was built by Samsung Heavy Industries, the shipbuilding affiliate of Samsung Group of the Republic of Korea.

According to Ship Technology, MSC Gulsun also features Samsung Heavy’s latest technology Svessel, a smart ship system that analyses navigation data to suggest the most appropriate sea route according to pricing and safety measures.

Samsung Heavy also said that the vessel is structurally designed so that it can easily adapt to become a liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship in the future, making it an eco-friendly cargo ship, the report said.

The South Korean ship manufacturer has had another five ships of a similar style ordered at Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, which are scheduled to be delivered by February 2020.

A spokesman from Samsung Heavy said the company is ready to lead the burgeoning mega-ship market, Port Technology reported. “On the basis of a wide range of test facilities including the world’s largest towing tank and our outstanding researchers, SHI has led the market to increase the size of containerships.

“We will continuously secure the leading position in the mega containership market by vigorously targeting ultra-large containerships surpassing 20,000 TEU that are expected to be ordered in the second half of this year.”