On August 26th, the Evelyn Maersk was the 100th ultra large container carrier (ULCC) to sail into the port of Rotterdam in 2010. A ULCC is a ship that can carry more than 10,000 TEU (unit measurement for containers). It was less than three years ago that the first vessel of this capacity went into service. In the meantime, such ships dock in Rotterdam every other day, on average.

Hans Smits, Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO: “The port of Rotterdam is ideally suited for these vessels with a length of around 400 m, now on the existing Maasvlakte and shortly also on Maasvlakte 2. After a sharp fall in container throughput during the crisis, this market sector is recovering surprisingly quickly: in the first half of 2010, almost 18% more containers were handled than in the first half of 2009.”

 At the moment, 42 ULCCs are in operation on the world’s seas. A further 145 of these giants are on order from shipyards. Maersk Line was the first shipping company to use ULCCs, in 2007. At the moment, the ULCCs of CMA CGM, Cosco, Hanjin and MSC also visit Rotterdam. Virtually all of the major shipping lines are investing in these vessels, because transport by container becomes cheaper as more can be transported at the same time.

The ULCCs always moor in Rotterdam at the ECT, APMT and Euromax quays on the Maasvlakte. Recently, the Port Authority decided to invest a further € 175 million in widening the Amazonehaven so that the southern side of the ECT terminal will also remain easily accessible in the future if increasing numbers of such mega ships come into operation.

The new container terminals on Maasvlakte 2 are extremely suitable for receiving these ULCCs, because, when designing the new terminals, the size of these mammoth ships was taken into account and because the new port area is located close to the sea, so that there are no limits to its accessibility, such as depth and tides.