MSC Takes Delivery of the World's Biggest Ultra Large Container Ship

largest container ship delivered to MSC
MSC Irina escorted to sea on March 11 after delivery (Yangzijian Shipbuilding)

Published Mar 13, 2023 4:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) took delivery of its second ultra large container ship, and this time it is the world’s largest by carry capacity at 24,346 TEU. The carrier took delivery on two of the largest containerships, both surpassing the 24,000 TEU hurdle, on the same day in China as part of a wave of capacity growth coming to the container industry.

MSC Irinia was delivered to Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (BoCom) her registered owners which are chartering the vessel to MSC under a long-term agreement. The handover took place in Zhoushan, China the same day, March 9, as the MSC Tessa was delivered in Shanghai. The vessels both are among the largest capacity boxships and part of MSC’s expansion which will see more than a dozen of these ultra large vessels join the fleet in the coming months.

The first of the ships is due to depart this Friday, March 17, from her first port in China to begin a trip to Northern Europe. In an interesting development, the second vessel MSC Irina is not being placed on the same route. MSC’s schedule on its webpage shows the vessel entered service next week on March 21. She departs Qingdao on March 23, first proceeding to Busan, South Korea, and then back to five Chinese ports before departing for Singapore and the Suez Canal. Once she reaches the Mediterranean, the vessel goes to ports in Italy and Spain before proceeding to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and then back to Asia.

With a reported capacity of 24,346 TEU, the vessel is officially the largest yet built in the industry. The Shanghai-built MSC Tessa was the first over 24,000 from the Hudong-Zhonghau with a capacity of 24,116 but slightly behind the new OOCL Spain built by Nantong COSCO Kawasaki Ship Engineering Co. (NACKS) in Nantong, China with a capacity of 24,188. The differences come from slight changes in the loading patterns of the vessels as they all share very similar dimensions. Each is 1,312 feet long and has a beam of approximately 201 feet. They load containers up to 25 stacks.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which built the MSC Irina and five pending sisterships, highlights their unique design elements to improve the ship’s performance. They are calling the bulbous bow “invisible,” while all the ships are using air lubrication systems on the hull and are outfitted with large diameter propellers, energy-saving ducts, and shaft generation systems. MSC Irina and her sisters have a split double deckhouse design and adopt low wind resistance exterior design. The shipyard estimates the vessels will reduce carbon emissions by three to four percent and they are also fitted with hybrid scrubbers.

The vessels were also built quickly with the yard reporting they were in drydock for a total of just 144 days. Work began on the MSC Irina and a sistership MSC Loreto on November 29, 2021, with dock assembly beginning on June 7, 2022. They were floated for the first time on August 10 and floated out on October 29. A month ago, MSC Irina undertook her sea trials and then went to the Zhejiang Zhoushan Shipyard for final work before delivery.

MSC Irina departed the shipyard on March 11. A Zhoushan maritime patrol boat escorted her to sea on the first leg of her trip to Qingdao and into the record books.

Chinese officials highlight that the dual delivery on two of the largest containerships is a demonstration of the developing expertise in their shipyard. They said these vessels are helping to further break South Korea and Japan’s monopoly on the construction of these types of large vessels.