The Ever Ace, the world’s largest container ship, has made its maiden call at the Port of Felixstowe, the UK's biggest container port. The Evergreen-operated vessel departed Qingdao, China in July, and she called in Rotterdam and Hamburg to offload a portion of her cargo before arriving at Felixstowe.
“We are delighted to welcome the Ever Ace on its maiden call at the Port of Felixstowe. Our relationship with Evergreen dates back to 1979 when Evergreen launched its first Asia-Europe service. The scale of growth since then has been nothing short of staggering; those first ships had a capacity of just 1,200 TEU, one-twentieth of the number the Ever Ace can carry," said Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Felixstowe. “It is particularly fitting that the arrival coincides with the start of London International Shipping Week, which promotes the best of the UK maritime sector."
The UK port has enough depth alongside its two biggest berths to handle the world's largest container ships. This autumn, a project to increase the depth of the main approach channel into the port will get under way. Undertaken by Harwich Haven Authority and due for completion in 18 months, the $165 million project will increase the depth of the channel from 48 feet to 52.5 feet. This will help to increase the tidal transit window for megamaxes like Ever Ace, which could theoretically draw up to 54 feet if fully laden.
In practice, with real-world loading conditions and offload-heavy calls at continental ports, vessels like Ever Ace typically have a much-reduced draft by the time of their arrival. When Ever Ace berthed at the Port of Rotterdam early this month, bystander video showed her stacked high with boxes and drawing about 52 feet; as of Monday, she was broadcasting a draft of 42 feet over AIS.
In July, work was completed to deepen Berth 7 at Felixstowe to 54 feet, helping to accommodate tidal fluctuations during loading and unloading. Further work to deepen Berths 6, 8 and 9 is scheduled for 2022.
The Ever Ace is the first of twelve 24,000 TEU container ships ordered by Evergreen. With a nominal carrying capacity of 23,992 TEU, she is one of the largest container ships in the world.