Supersize ships being built to feed our consumer appetites
Walmart commissions fleet of giant ships to speed consumer goods from China.Posted Nov 22, 2010
Walmart is betting heavily that consumer demand for goods made in China will remain strong for many years to come.
The Emma Maersk, shown in these photos, was launched as the third of a planned fleet of five new “supersize” cargo ships, designed to transport goods across the Pacific in just 5 days. Two more ships are commissioned to be completed in 2012.
These ships were commissioned by Walmart to move goods from China faster and more economically than presently possible with standard merchant vessels. The new “super-size” ships can each carry an incredible 15,000 containers! The full crew is just 13 people on a ship longer than modern aircraft carriers which have crews of 3,000.
These new ships are designed for the sole purpose of moving goods from China to ports in the western US. With a 207′ beam, the ships are too wide to fit through the Panama or Suez Canals.
With a cruising speed of 31 knots, goods arrive 4 days before the typical container ship (18-20 knots) on a China -to-California run. 91% of Walmart products are made in China.
The Emma Maersk was built in five sections in five different shipyards. The completed sections were barged to one location and then welded together. The command bridge is higher than a 10-story building and has 11 cargo crane rigs that can operate simultaneously unloading the entire ship in less than two hours.
Country of origin – Denmark
Length – 1,302 ft
Width – 207 ft
Net cargo – 123,200 tons
Engine – 14 cylinders in-line diesel engine (110,000 BHP)
Cargo capacity – 15,000 TEU (1 TEU = 20 cubic feet)
Crew – 13 people
Construction cost – US $145,000,000+
Silicone painting applied to the ship bottom reduces water resistance and saves 317,000 gallons of diesel per year.
A documentary in March, 2010 on the History Channel noted that all of these containers are shipped back to China, empty. Yep, that’s right. We send nothing back on these ships.
This is our reality now, but what if we consumed fewer Chinese products, and if we couldn’t find a product made in North America to buy, we just didn’t buy it – is this possible? Imagine how our environment and economy could change. What are your views on this, readers?”