The title of “biggest containership in the world” is changing rapidly at present, with a queue of giant vessels leaving far eastern shipyards and loading their maiden cargoes. Members of the public have been able, care of the media, to marvel at the CSCL Globe , which has been on her maiden north European rotation and has been making headlines wherever she arrives. It is good to have these positive pictures of shipping, after too many of the opposite recently, what with death and disaster elsewhere in the world.

There is, however a lot of challenges represented in handling these “mega” ships, as has been evident recently with a string of severe storms tracking across the North Atlantic to test European sea defences. Not for the first time, very large containerships were prevented by the weather from entering port, while in Rotterdam , ships broke their moorings and required tugs to keep them alongside on their berths, while shredded lines were re-established.

These huge ships, with their enormous windage from containers piled up to nine high on deck, have been suffering in these circumstances. Mooring bollards have been ripped out of quaysides, or off the decks of ships by the stresses involved. There is little shelter to be had in these exposed berths, and while the lines will tend to be high-tech and not give way, something has to give in such conditions.  Car carriers, empty tankers and bulk carriers have also been blown around the place, to the consternation of harbourmasters and shipmasters alike.

The worry is that the weather forecasts are generally accurate in terms of the wind strength and direction, they have put out all the lines possible in the circumstances in anticipation and it still is sometimes proving inadequate. The best possible seamanship, short of keeping ships out at sea rather than letting them into port in the first place, has in some cases not been enough. And these ships are still getting bigger.

Author: Michael Grey                     Source: