Monday 15 May around nine in the evening the MOL TRIUMPH, one of the biggest containerships in the world, made fast in Hamburg at HHLA Container Terminal Burchardkai (CTB). The new flagship of Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) is the first vessel with a loading capacity of over 20,000 TEU in the Port of Hamburg. Some 10,000 TEU will be loaded or discharged at CTB for the MOL TRIUMPH that is provisionally scheduled to leave the Elbe conurbation again at four in the morning on May 18.
“It is an amazing moment to have the MOL TRIUMPH here in the Port of Hamburg,” says Jan Holst, Director North Europe for Mitsui O.S.K. Lines in Hamburg, on the arrival of the mega-ship. “Our shipping line has been really exerting itself, working towards this moment for the last three years. It makes you feel really proud when it actually happens.”
Previously, MOL’s biggest containerships had a capacity of some 14,000 TEU. “So, this is naturally a quantum leap for us in terms of volume, challenging the whole organisation. In Europe we have taken on staff in each port, 13 in Hamburg alone,” Holst adds.
Why MOL decided to build a class of six 20,000-TEU ships, is obvious for Holst. On the one hand competitiveness and economy of scale play a role. On the other, you have to be an attractive alliance partner. “You achieve that in part by deploying comparable ship sizes within the shipping alliance. Then you are able to offer unified liner services.” For the eco-balance ship-size plays an important role too: Through the considerably higher loading capacity, linked to state-of-the-art environment technology, the MOL TRIUMPH shows a reduction in fuel consumption per container of approximately 25 to 30 percent and lower CO2 emissions in comparison with a 14,000-TEU containership.
Sailing under "THE Alliance" shipping consortium, like her sister-ships, the MOL TRIUMPH will be deployed in the FE2 service between Asia and Europe. The FE2 offers a fast direct service between China and SE Asia with the western Mediterranean and northern Europe. For example, the transit time eastbound between Hamburg and Hong Kong lies around 33 days, westbound between Singapore and Hamburg 24 days.
Not only for the shipping line, but also for the Port of Hamburg, a ship like the MOL TRIUMPH is a challenge. “I would like to thank all those involved, starting with the Harbour Master’s office, the pilots and HHLA, for their excellent preparation,” stressed MOL’s North European boss. “Thanks to their professional cooperation the MOL TRIUMPH reached the Port of Hamburg safely and without problems.”
In advance, at the nautical centre, the first call and turning manoeuver in front of Waltershof basin were simulated. Hamburg Harbour Master Jörg Pollmann, pilots’ representatives, an MOL nautical coordinator and their Hamburg port agent - United Shipping Agency - played out the most varied of scenarios, to guarantee nautical-technical safety during the first call of the MOL TRIUMPH.
The MOL TRIUMPH reached the Port of Hamburg punctually, with the maximum permitted draft. There the vessel made fast at HHLA Container Terminal Burchardkai, berth 5/6. “HHLA is pleased that with the MOL TRIUMPH it can handle and clear the first 20,000-TEU containership in the Port of Hamburg at its Burchardkai terminal. This first call underlines the successful relationship with our longstanding customer MOL,” says Jens Hansen, Executive Board member and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA).
By Thursday some 6,000 TEU will be discharged and 3,500 TEU loaded. These quantities of cargo that have to be handled and moved on within the shortest possible timeframe, demand a superhuman effort from the terminal operator. “In recent years, HHLA, through investments in gantry-crane technology and storage capacity, has prepared with the objective of clearing mega-ships like the MOL TRIUMPH,” Hansen explains.
HHLA Container Terminal Burchardkai possesses two high-performance berths of the type required for clearing the new 20,000-TEU containerships. The Hamburg operator’s mightiest container gantry cranes are deployed on the job. Their booms extend over the entire 24-box width of the mega-vessels. Thirteen cranes of this type are in operation at CTB.
Up to nine of these container gantry cranes will operate in parallel on the MOL TRIUMPH. In seven shifts, each eight-hours long, HHLA terminal staff will be working: crane drivers, ship planners, van-carrier drivers, organizers, supervisors and many more – virtually non-stop on the vessel. In total, HHLA has planned around 470 staff shifts, so that the MOL TRIUMPH can keep to its sailing schedule, leaving Hamburg again punctually.