Steamship Sunday – Containership Emma Mærsk

Steamship Sunday

Containership Emma Mærsk

(Hat tip: Max B.)


The containership Emma Mærsk entered service in 2006, the first of eight “E-class” containerships ordered by the Danish Mærsk line. At the time the “E-class” ships entered service, they were the worlds’ largest containerships. In 2010, Mærsk placed orders for a total of 21 “Triple-E class” containerships that are even larger.

Emma Mærsk was built at the Odense Steel Shipyard in Denmark. She christened in a ceremony on 12 August 2006, after Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller’s late wife, Emma. She sailed on her maiden voyage on 8 September 2006 from Aarhus, Denmark, calling at Gothenburg, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Algeciras, the Suez Canal, and arriving in Singapore on 1 October 2006. She sailed the next day for Yantian in Shenzhen, China then on to Kobe, Nagoya, and Yokohama, Japan. She returned via Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Tanjung Pelepas, the Suez Canal, Felixstowe, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Gothenburg and finally back to Aarhus, arriving on 11 November 2006. While Mærsk operates ships between the U.S. West Coast and China, Emma Mærsk only operates between northern Europe and Asia.


Emma Mærsk appeared in headlines in the U.K. prior to Christmas 2006, when she was dubbed SS Santa because she was bound for the United Kingdom from China loaded with Christmas goods.

She is longer than the current Nimitz-class aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy, but rather than having a crew that numbers well into the thousands as aircraft carriers do, her crew is only 13 men. Her bridge is as high as the top floor of a ten story building.


Here are her “vital statistics”:

170,794 Gross Tons
55,396 Net Tons

Length: 397 m (1,302 ft)
Beam: 56 m (184 ft)
Draught: 16.02 m (52.6 ft)
Depth: 30 m (98 ft) (deck edge to keel)
Propulsion: 81 MW (109,000 hp) Wärtsilä 14RT-Flex96c 14 cylinder diesel engine plus 30 MW (40,000 hp) from five Caterpillar 8M32 diesels.
Speed: 25.5 knots (47.2 km/h; 29.3 mph)

14,770 containers of which 1,000 can be refrigerated units.
1000 TEU (reefers)

Crew: 13, with room for 30


She is powered by a Wärtsilä-Sulzer 14RTFLEX96-C engine, the world’s largest single diesel unit at the time of her construction. Fuel consumption is 14,000 litres (3,600 US gal) of heavy fuel oil per hour. At economical speed, fuel consumption is 1,660 gal/hour. Exhaust heat recovery and cogeneration improve operating economy. Some of the exhaust gases are passed through a steam generator which then powers a Peter Brotherhood steam turbine and electrical generators. This creates an electrical output of 8.5 MW, equivalent to about 12% of the main engine power output. Some of this steam is used directly as shipboard heat. Five diesel generators together produce 20.8 MW,[35] giving a total electric output of 29 MW. Two 9 MW electric motors augment the power on the main propeller shaft.


Two bow and two stern thrusters provide port maneuverability, and two pairs of stabilizer fins reduce rolling. A special silicone-based paint keeps barnacles off of the hull. This increases her efficiency by reducing drag. The paint is credited with lowering the water drag enough to save 1,200 tons of fuel per year. The ship has a bulbous bow, a standard feature for cargo ships.




Add yours →

  1. Wow, such a huge ship with all those engines and only 13 people on the crew. I’m trying to figure out in my head how that works out on a rotating watch.


    • Hi, Yogi! Great to see you here again!
      Yes, it does boggle the mind to think they run this huge ship with a crew of only 13! When I lived in the Bay Area, I often saw the Mærsk containerships at the Port of Oakland and marveled at their size. They are some 200 – 300 feet longer than a Nimitz-class carrier.


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