CMA CGM Jacques Saade Boxship Sets Second Record for Full Containers

record TEU load on containership
CMA CGM Jacques Saade in China on a prior trip (CMA CGM)

Published Apr 9, 2021 2:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

For the second time in six months, French shipping giant CMA CGM Group is claiming a record for the largest number of full containers loaded aboard a single vessel. The achievement comes as the industry prepares to build even larger boxships to realize the economies of scale and meet the increasing demand for capacity.

The ultra-larger containership CMA CGM Jacques Saade (236,538 dwt) departed the port of Singapore on April 8 carrying 21,433 fully-loaded TEU for the new world’s record. The calculation for the load exceeded by more than three percent the ship’s prior record set in October 2020 during its maiden voyage. The 1,312-foot vessel had departed Singapore on October 12 with a calculation of 20,723 full TEU, which at the time was noted to be about 10 percent below her nominal capacity.

The CMA CGM Jacques Saade’s capacity is listed at 23,112 TEU, with the TEU being a standardized measure in the industry. Most boxes used by shippers are two TEU in size and as such the value does not reflect the number of individual containers on board. The current figure likely means the ship is loaded to capacity with full boxes. According to CMA CGM, among the current cargo are electronics, machinery, and household goods manufactured in Asia and being delivered to Europe.

The effort to complete the loading of the vessel to this level is equally significant. In October, CMA CGM reported that over 4,000 movements by nine different cranes working in unison were required during the stopover in Singapore. “To carry so many containers we have to be able to stack them 10 or 11 high on the deck, giving rise to strict constraints linked to the vessel’s structure and, crucially, how containers are stowed,” explained Marc Olazabal, Operations Manager, E&W Lines, who directs the group’s operations. The vessel is designed to pile containers of over 10 tons in a 10-high stack and in total she is carrying more than 220,000 tons on each trip.

Before the CMA vessel, the world-record load was set in May 2020 when HMM Algeciras departed Yantian, China with 19,621 TEU of cargo on board. That surpassed the record of 19,574 TEUs held by MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC Gulsun, which was launched in the summer of 2019.

Also, while the CMA CGM vessel was in Singapore the ship, which is powered by LNG, bunkered for the first time in the port loading a total of 6,801 cubic meters of LNG. That is about a third of the vessel’s total capacity of 18,600m3 of gas. In March 2021, the first ship-to-containership LNG bunkering operation in Asia was undertaken loading 7,100m3 of LNG aboard another CMA CGM boxship, CMA CGM Scandola.

Built at CSSC’s shipyard in Shanghai, CMA CGM Jacques Saade is the first in a series of nine ultra-large LNG-powered sister ships, with six of them currently in service and three more expected to enter service this year. CMA CGM is currently expanding its LNG-fueled fleet to reach 32 vessels by the end of 2022.

These records however are likely to be eclipsed by newbuilds from ONE and Hapag which will have the ability to reach approximately 24,000 TEU. The size of the ultra-large boxships however has drawn increasing attention in the past few months both with the blockage of the Suez Canal and the large number of boxes lost overboard from multiple vessels crossing the Pacific during the winter. Experts are questioning the sea keeping quality of the ships, the challenges of maneuvering due to their size and massive wind area, and the loading practices of the ultra-large ships.