World’s largest container ship at 396m long arrives in Britain on maiden call carrying thousands of Christmas presents
Marco Polo, the new giant of the waves, is five times bigger than an Airbus A380 or the size of four football pitches
Can carry more than 16,000 containers on board
Vessel is 51 times longer than superliner Queen Mary 2
14:31 GMT, 9 December 2012
There was no mistaking who ruled the waves today, as the world's largest container ship pulled into Southampton with thousands of Christmas presents on board.
Measuring 396 metres long – or the size of four professional football pitches – the CMA CGM Marco Polo made its maiden call to Britain packed full of goods from the Far East that will be distributed across the UK.
Locked away within the stacks of
anonymous steel containers is anything and everything from televisions to soft
furnishings and power tools to clothing.
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Christmas is coming: The world's largest container ship, the CMA CGM Marco Polo, arrived at Southampton with thousands of Christmas presents on board
The scope of the biggest man-made object to have ever moved across the planet is hard to comprehend: she is 51 times longer than the superliner Queen Mary 2 and more than five times bigger than an Airbus A380.
After unloading her cargo, this true monster of the seas will set sail again tomorrow afternoon, this time bound for Hamburg, Germany.
Nicolas Sartini, CMA CGM Group's
senior vice-president of Asia-Europe Lines, said the company launched the ship 'with great
Making waves: The Marco Polo arrived at Southampton early this morning
Visitors at Southampton Port catch a glimpse of the massive container ship
Bearing gifts: The ship is the size of four football pitches and can carry more than 16,000 containers
Chris Lewis, managing director of DP
World Southampton, which operates the terminal, said today marked 'the latest milestone' in the terminal's history.
He added: 'With the container industry changing, these new giants of the sea will soon be regulars at the terminal.'
Marco Polo is the first of the next generation of super-vessels destined to keep the wheels of international trade turning.
Even Cunard's flagship, the mighty 151,000-ton Queen Mary 2, a familiar sight in Southampton, would be dwarfed by the giant container ship.
The Marco Polo is also far bigger than the nuclear-powered French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, western Europe's largest warship.
Her length is equivalent to well in excess of 100 family saloon cars and the ship can carry more than 16,020 containers on her vast decks.
Built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of South Korea, the new ship boasts a vareity of environmentally-friendly technologies, such as an electronically-controlled engine that allows reduced fuel consumption.
With an improved hull design, the Marco Polo's CO2 emissions are much lower than the average cargo ship and a ballast water treatment system helps to prevent pollution.
Dwarfed: A port worker stands beneath the world's largest container ship
Locked away within the anonymous steel containers is everything from televisions to soft furnishings, power tools and clothing from the Far East
Feeling small: A boat moves alongside the Marco Polo, which is 51 metres longer than the Queen Mary 2
Ready to unload: More than 16,000 containers will be unpacked before the giant vessel leaves for Hamburg
Over the past 20 years, the size of container vessels has steadily increased.
In the 1980s, the average container carried just 1,600 containers, but the Marco Polo has increased that number tenfold.
Before the latest giant of the waves arrived on the scene, the Emma Maersk, which was built in 2006 and capable of carrying 15,550 containers, held the title of the world's largest container ship.
Southampton Port director Doug Morrison said:
'We have now placed ourselves on the map as a terminal capable of handling the world's largest container ship.
'We have all the right ingredients to continue being one of the most productive terminals in Northern Europe.'
But the Marco Polo might not hold on to her prestigious title for very long.
Another two container ships of similar size, each also named after famous explorers, are set to follow Marco Polo next year and will be
capable of carrying a massive 18,000 containers.
Heading west: The Marco Polo pictured in Hong Kong waters last week on its way to Britain
Looking ship-shape: An Egyptian woman took a photo of the cargo ship as it sailed through the Suez Canal last week
Passing through: An Egyptian man watches the world's largest container ship passing the port of Ismailia, 120 km north of Cairo
VIDEO: Aerial view of the world's largest container ship Marco Polo
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