Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in Korea is building the world’s biggest boat—The Triple-E. A.P. Moller-Maersk is one of DSME’s customers, and Maersk needs 20 Triple-Es at $185 million each. And so, production is underway. The size of these boats is no small shrimp, as Drake Bennett describes (“Building the World’s Biggest Boat” Bloomberg Businessweek, 9/9/13–9/15/13, pp. 44–50):
“[These Triple-Es are] 1,312 feet long, 194 feet wide, and weigh 55,000 tons empty. Stand one on its stern next to the Empire State Building, and its bow would loom over the heads of those on the observation deck; a single link from its anchor chain weighs 500 pounds.” (p. 46)
And speaking of size, how about those propellers? They are colossal:
“In a back lot of the yard is a row of gleaming, four-bladed Triple-E propellers. They’re 32 feet in diameter and were fabricated at the Mecklenburger Metallguss foundry in Germany, the molten metal poured into molds at 2,174F and then cooled for 10 days.” (p. 49)
The improved engineering for massive size and the specific geometric design to facilitate larger cargo holds are what increasingly make overseas shipping cheap, easy, and efficient. The Triple-E is the epitome of this truth:
“Much of the efficiency will come simply from going slower. . . . The Triple-E is designed to cruise at 16 knots. Building a ship for slow steaming meant the engines could be less powerful and the hull wider, allowing for more containers. . . . The company considered 500 different hull forms.” (p. 48)
The Triple-E design and engineering incorporated many mechanisms to improve energy efficiency. For example, the excess heat from the massive engines is used to power a secondary steam turbine to generate electricity. That electricity helps power the propellers, crew quarters, and cargo refrigeration.
The technical engineering and the magnitude of the vessel are amazing. Equally amazing are the logistics of making it all happen on a schedule. Each Triple-E takes over a year to build. With overlapping production lines for the next 30 months DMSE will complete a new Triple-E every six or seven weeks.
It seems to me these ships are as seaworthy as the Ancient Mariner ever was!