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World's Largest Container Ship Transits a Suez Canal in Transition

The HMM Algeciras, which is billed as the world's largest container vessel, completed its transit of the Suez Canal during its maiden voyage from South Korea and China to Rotterdam and Europe.The transit was an important symbolic event for the Suez Canal as it faces economic and operational challenges to its historic role in the shipping world.

The 24,000 TEU-class containership was built at the DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering)’s Okpo shipyard in Geoje, Korea, and delivered to HMM in April 2020. After loading containers in Busan in South Korea, and Ningbo, Shanghai, and Yantian in China, the vessel departed on May 8, 2020, carrying a record 19,621 TEUs. Registered in Panama, the ship has a length of over 1,300 feet, and is deployed on the Far East Europe 4 service route. 

After passing through the Suez Canal, the HMM Algeciras is sailing to Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp, and London, and returning to China and South Korea via the Suez Canal and Singapore. The significance of the transit was underscored by Admiral Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) who oversaw the operation. The Suez Canal Authority said that it assigned its highly experienced pilots to the transit, as well as providing the required navigation aids, escort tug boats, and real-time monitoring of the transit from the Main Traffic Control Office, and various traffic control stations.

The transit was made through what is referred to as the New Suez Canal, a hallmark project completed by the Suez Canal Authority that added a more than 20-mile new navigation channel, referred to as the south channel, that runs parallel to the historic route. Opened in 2015, the new passage was part of a program to widened and deepened areas along the canal and to make possible more two-way traffic. The result was to cut more than three hours from the transit.
Admiral Rabie highlighted the new canal as part of their efforts to increase efficiency and handle more large vessels similar to the HMM Algeciras