The Maersk Triple E is the largest ship currently in service at 400 metres long, carrying 18,270 20 foot containers and costing $190 million each to build. Using using slow steaming and a host of advanced technologies they lower fuel consumption by 37% and carbon dioxide emissions by 50% per container. Over just two years, 2013 to 2015 Maersk are taking delivery of 20 of them.
This is capitalism at work. Maersk have to compete against lots of other shipping companies in order to look after the customer, which ultimately is you. To do so requires huge amounts of enterprise, investment, risk taking and hard work. The result is that your television, your game console, your washing machine and your telephone all cost a lot less to buy. The cost of bringing them half way round the world has become trivial. Socialism could never, ever have done this because they always punish success.
Up until relatively recently goods were shipped in their own packaging, this was massively inefficient and led to huge pilferage in transit. The ISO standards for containers were published between 1968 and 1970 and led to an explosion in their usage, rapidly replacing old shipping methods, because they reduced costs enormously and carried their goods intact from the door of the manufacturer to the door of the customer. Our modern society would be impossible without this typical capitalist invention.
In the UK our Luddite unions carried out large numbers of industrial actions to try and prevent containerisation. This was like King Canute trying to stop the tide. And they were happy for the British consumer to continue to pay excessively high prices. Because of this intransigence new ports were built for containers and the old ports were forced to close. The Luddite union members lost their jobs. A typical story of the damage trade unions do to Great Britain and to their members. They really are the enemy.
One fundamental of capitalism is competition, other people trying to take your business away from you by looking after the customer even better than you are doing. So it is with container shipping. Maersk’s competitors have seen the Triple E and are determined to do even better. China Shipping Container Lines has ordered 5 ships with a capacity of 18,400 20 foot containers from Hyundai Heavy Industries, bigger than the Triple E class. United Arab Shipping Company has ordered 5 slightly larger ships and 5 ships even larger than the Maersk E Class. And so it will continue, with the world’s customers being the winners.