CMA CGM set to order series of record breaking 22,000 teu behemoths

CMA CGM will shortly put pen to paper for up to nine world-beating 22,000 teu class ships. Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) are the only two companies in the final running for this landmark order.

The order will be signed within the next fortnight and the record breaking ships are expected to feature LNG dual fuel engines.

At 22,000 teu, the new class of ships would beat out the current largest boxship afloat, the OOCL Hong Kong, which was delivered from Samsung Heavy Industries earlier this year, clocking in at 21,413 teu in capacity.

The order would also give Marseille-based CMA CGM a fight back in the global liner rankings. While it currently lies third in the world, Cosco Shipping’s move last month to acquire OOCL would see it usurp CMA CGM’s position by just 15,000 slots.

CMA CGM has yet to reply to questions sent by Splash earlier today. The line last ordered at HHI two years ago, signing for six 14,000 teu ships, while its relationship with SWS is equally firm. CMA CGM ordered the first ever 18,000 teu class ships in China at that yard with the vessels delivering in 2015.

Commenting on the Splash exclusive today, Lars Jensen, founder of Seaintelligence Consulting and a regular contributor to this site, argued that ship sizes were now becoming a “cosmetic” battle among leading liners.

“They might technically become the largest vessels in the world in terms of nominal capacitybut in reality it has more been a cosmetic battle recently, with the largest vessels in the 20,000 to 22,000 teu range constantly being incrementally tweaked to get a slight bit more efficiency out of them,” Jensen said, adding: “The maximum capacity is constrained by port infrastructure, and although a few ports are presumably ready for even larger vessels, the realistic view for many right now is that the current class of mega vessels will not grow in a quantum leap but, as you can see here, through incremental design improvements tweaking volume upwards slightly.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. stop the madness!
    I really wonder what kind of information circulates in the board rooms for such decisions to be justified.
    I have always thought that firms should compete to maximise shipper surplus via solutions of increased value added. Goes without saying that cost is a crucial component, yet in the case of a 22KTEU behemoth, it comes lower at the detriment of operational flexibility, so there goes the value of the service.

  2. No wonder Yildirim wants to sell his shares. This is madness from a company that cannot afford to buy these ships. The container industry is grossly over tonnaged and there is no sign of any growth in world trade.

  3. Shipping is acting globally but this is showing that competition of companies or conglomerates is destructive for the whole market when tonnage oversupply is already the problem of surviving in free capitalism in shipping.
    This is as well especially destructive concerning global environmental problems – to continue with building too many ships with the effect that more ships have to be scraped sooner or later to balance the market. And scraping means waste with a percentage of toxic stuff, dissipation of resources (cause recycling won’t be high enough) often in places with unethical working conditions etc. etc.

  4. Outraged comments at this apparent stupidity are noted and at first glance I had to agree. However, on the reasonable premise that the directors of CCM CGM are not suicidal lunatics, just what is their strategic analysis and growth projection in terms of the current and future container markets? Does anyone have any ideas please apart from the usual BS provided in corporate news releases to eager journalists? My MSc Maritime Studies students at NTU in Singapore, along with the rest of the world, would love to know.

  5. Dear Robert — loved yr comment – I would suggest yr NTU students see the follow up story we did the following day re Ocean Alliance looking to fight 2M for market share as part of the rationale for this mega order

  6. You know there are interesting times on the horizon when the addiction to building ships is the talking point rather than the sector itself.

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