Giant of the sea sails into port

FELIXSTOWE: Under the cover of darkness, one of the behemoths of the waves slipped into the waters of Britain’s biggest port – a ship so big it can carry the cargo of 14,000 lorries.

The massive CSCL Star is one of the biggest container ships in the world, part of a new breed circumnavigating the globe every eight weeks carrying the goods we all need to live our lives, from food to clothes, electricals to toys, materials to vehicles.

Its 14,000 boxes – if unloaded and placed end to end – would stretch 53 miles from Felixstowe to Newmarket.

The ship, on its maiden voyage, was the ideal vessel to be the first to pull alongside Felixstowe port’s two new deep-water berths – after all, this was the size of ship for which they were designed.

As part of the trials of the new quay and its high-rise cranes, a limited number of boxes were removed before the vessel moved on to Trinity Terminal.

“It is very exciting to be moving into the testing phase of this major development,” said David Gledhill, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, which owns the Port of Felixstowe.

“There is an increasing trend towards ultra-large container vessels on many services operating between the Far East and Europe and it is essential the UK has the right facilities to accommodate these ships.

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“Berths eight and nine will give us that capability and, allied to the unrivalled distribution options available from Felixstowe, will consolidate our position as the UK’s number one port.

“There is a lot of equipment to be tested and we need to be sure that all the new systems are resilient before the terminal is formally opened.

“It is, however, great to see the first mega-vessel alongside the only UK terminal that can handle it fully laden.”

The new berths are 730 metres long. Phase two – which will be built in eight years’ time – will increase the quay length to 1,285 metres and will have another six cranes.

Built by Samsung Heavy Industries, and launched last month, the CSCL Star left Shanghai for Ningbo, then Yantian, calling at Felixstowe, before going on to Hamburg, Rotterdam, Hong Kong and back to Shanghai.

It is the first of five ultra-large container ships joining the CSCL fleet this year. Several container ships now carry more than 14,000 boxes but companies keep the official figures close to their chests.

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? The China Shipping vessel CSCL Star is 366 metres long and 51.2m wide.

? It has 20 rows of containers stacked across its decks.

? It can carry 14,100 standard-sized boxes, and has a speed of 26 knots.

? The cranes at Felixstowe are the largest in the UK and able to stretch across containers stowed 24-wide on a deck, while the yards behind the quay can hold 20,000 boxes.