The first Triple-E is scheduled to load its first containers on July 15 in Busan
Maersk Line's new Triple-E class containerships will have to operate below their 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity when they first enter service on the Asia-Europe route, as many port gantries aren't tall enough to handle the additional boxes able to be carried by the new ships, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"We will operate it as a smaller ship for the first few months while ports upgrade their cranes," said Lars Jensen, head of Maersk Line's Asia-Europe operation.
"You can't do much about this while the infrastructure is adapting to larger ships."
The first of the twenty Triple-E vessels Maersk Line has on order, the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller, is scheduled to load its first containers on July 15 in Busan, South Korea, and is expected to operate with an average of 14,000 containers.
Lars Jensen, head of Asia-Europe Operations, Maersk Line
In three to four years, companies will operate Asia-Europe with ships that can carry 14,000 containers and above
The company has stated that the Triple-E's will consume approximately 35 percent less fuel per container than "the 13,100 TEU vessels being delivered to other container shipping lines."
While it's not clear what impact the reduced capacity will have on the per container bunker cost, economist Marc Levinson said last month that, "if they're half-filled, they will lose enormous amounts of money."
"The Triple-E was designed to sail at full capacity," noted Jonathan Roach, a senior container analyst at London-based shipping brokerage Braemar Seascope Ltd.
However Maersk Line CEO Soren Skou said last month he is confident the ships will be filled, while Jensen has predicted that, while capacity on Asia-Europe routes is around 10 percent above demand, ultimately the biggest, most efficient box ships will put the smaller ones out of business.
"In three to four years, companies will operate Asia-Europe with ships that can carry 14,000 containers and above. Those who don't have these ships won't be able to compete," he says.