Dredging opens port to bigger ships

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Since the completion of the channel dredging program in November 2009, larger ships have been calling at the Port of Melbourne, providing several advantages to everyone. The capital invested in the ships, the fuel used, the crewing costs and port charges are all lower for one ship than two carrying the same quantity of cargo. Any drop in operating costs reduces the cost to importers, which leads to savings for consumers. Pollution of the atmosphere by one large engine is also less than from two smaller engines.

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Recently, records have been set for the largest container ship into the port, but deciding which was the largest depends on how this is measured. The record for the ship with the greatest length to enter Swanston Dock goes to the Archimidis, but the Xin Fei Zhou, which berthed at Webb Dock outside the river, was longer. The ship with the largest gross tonnage is the MSC Elma (gross tons is a measurement of the volume of the ship) but the Maersk Skarstind is the largest by deadweight tonnage (deadweight is a measurement of the mass of the cargo a ship can carry). Both measurements are made using a specific formula. 

Maersk Skarstind also has the largest container capacity measured in TEU, or twenty-foot-equivalent units. A standard container is 20 feet long, though a large number of containers are 40 feet long. Ten years ago the largest container ships coming to Melbourne carried around 4000 TEU, which is less than half the capacity of Maersk Skarstind.

The details of the four ships are:

Archimidis 318m length 43.2m beam 89,776 gt 103,717 dwt 7943 TEU 

Xin Fei Zhou 335m length 42.8m beam 90,757 gt 102,379 dwt 8528 TEU 

MSC Elma 299m length 48.0m  beam 96,816 gt 110,103 dwt 9411 TEU

Maersk Skarstind 300m length 48.0m  beam 93,702 gt 111,614 dwt 9472 TEU

We are also seeing larger capacity tankers. In 2009 the record was around 80,000 metric tons but it has now reached 129,868 metric tons.


President, Peninsula Ship Society

T: Maurie Hutchinson 9787 5780

E: [email protected]

The Peninsula Ship Society meets at Hastings Yacht Club on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10am. Visitors always welcome.

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