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In August 2019, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) announced that one of its vessels and the world’s largest container ship, the MSC Gülsün, had completed its maiden voyage, arriving in Europe from Northern China. The ship is the first in a new class of 23,000+ TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) vessels that will be added to MSC’s shipping network in 2019/2020.
The MSC Gülsün was built in South Korea at the Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) shipyard in Geoje Island. The vessel sets a new container shipping standard, especially as regards to its environmental performance. At approximately 400m long and over 60m wide, it is the largest capacity container ship at 23,756 TEU. With big ships, less CO2 is emitted per container carried, allowing organisations that transport goods via MSC along the Asia-to-Europe route to lower their carbon footprints.

In keeping with its long-held values and strong maritime heritage, MSC—through the Gülsün and the 10 other vessels to come in the class—affirms its commitment to continue investing in the world’s busiest and largest trade lanes. The vessel comes with over 2,000 refrigerated containers, allowing safe and reliable transportation of food, drinks, pharmaceutical products, and frozen items from Asia to Europe and vice-versa. This is expected to boost trade between the 2 continents.

Ground-breaking Engineering and Innovation

MSC Gülsün and the vessels in its class were designed with environmental, as well as stability, efficiency, and safety-related features in mind. The energy efficiency levels of the ship is nothing short of remarkable, with the bow custom-designed to reduce hull resistance and thereby, increase energy efficiency. Effective application of innovative engineering helps the Gülsün minimise wind resistance, leading to lower fuel consumption.

Currently, ocean container shipping is more environmentally friendly than other cargo transportation methods, emitting lower CO2 per unit transported than trains, planes, trucks or barges. With the Gülsün’s better fuel economy and energy efficiency, MSC is firmly on track to meet the environmental targets set for 2030 by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of the United Nations. By doing so, MSC builds on the 13% improvement in CO2 emissions (per ton of cargo) that the company attained across its fleet between 2015 and 2018.

In compliance with marine fuel regulations that will be implemented in 2020, the Gülsün is fitted with a hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning System that meets the UN IMO standard. The system can be switched to low-sulphur fuel or adapted for LNG—liquefied natural gas—in the coming years.

Safety is Priority

To keep crew and the cargo they are transporting safe, the new class of vessels are fitted with double hull protection around the engine, along with a 3D hull condition assessment program. To improve the safety of travellers on the ship and further protect the cargo, a state-of-the-art dual-tower system has been installed for fire-fighting. The system is equipped with high-capacity pumps to boost effectiveness.

The Gülsün as well as her 10 sister ships are designed in step with recent developments in digital shipping. There is fast data transmission to the shore, and internet connectivity for smart containers; ensuring that shipping is more transparent, reliable, and enjoyable for customers.

Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) is expected to deliver 5 more vessels from this class, and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Maritime Engineering (DSME)—also in South Korea—will deliver the remaining 5.