Blog > Science and Transportation > Supersize ships being built to feed our consumer appetites RSS

Supersize ships being built to feed our consumer appetites

Raised Garden Beds in the Eartheasy Store

Join the Eartheasy Community

Sign up for our Newsletter:

* indicates required

Walmart commissions fleet of giant ships to speed consumer goods from China.

By Posted Nov 22, 2010

Walmart is betting heavily that consumer demand for goods made in China will remain strong for many years to come.

The Emma Maersk, shown in these photos, was launched as the third of a planned fleet of five new “supersize” cargo ships, designed to transport goods across the Pacific in just 5 days. Two more ships are commissioned to be completed in 2012.

These ships were commissioned by Walmart to move goods from China faster and more economically than presently possible with standard merchant vessels. The new “super-size” ships can each carry an incredible 15,000 containers! The full crew is just 13 people on a ship longer than modern aircraft carriers which have crews of 3,000.

These new ships are designed for the sole purpose of moving goods from China to ports in the western US. With a 207′ beam, the ships are too wide to fit through the Panama or Suez Canals.

With a cruising speed of 31 knots, goods arrive 4 days before the typical container ship (18-20 knots) on a China -to-California run. 91% of Walmart products are made in China.

The Emma Maersk was built in five sections in five different shipyards. The completed sections were barged to one location and then welded together. The command bridge is higher than a 10-story building and has 11 cargo crane rigs that can operate simultaneously unloading the entire ship in less than two hours.

Additional info:
Country of origin – Denmark
Length – 1,302 ft
Width – 207 ft
Net cargo – 123,200 tons
Engine – 14 cylinders in-line diesel engine (110,000 BHP)
Cargo capacity – 15,000 TEU (1 TEU = 20 cubic feet)
Crew – 13 people
Construction cost – US $145,000,000+
Silicone painting applied to the ship bottom reduces water resistance and saves 317,000 gallons of diesel per year.

A documentary in March, 2010 on the History Channel noted that all of these containers are shipped back to China, empty. Yep, that’s right. We send nothing back on these ships.


This is our reality now, but what if we consumed fewer Chinese products, and if we couldn’t find a product made in North America to buy, we just didn’t buy it – is this possible? Imagine how our environment and economy could change. What are your views on this, readers?”


Posted in Science and Transportation Tags , ,
  • Jamal

    Bigger people, bigger ships.

  • paul

    man, the Chinese are raking it in. and Walmart of course.

  • huma

    this is very helpfull and nice article. i understand it easily. i love your blog, please do continue.

  • LL22

    That's one crew member for every 100' of boat. And these ships work in three shifts, so a third of the crew is sleeping at any given time.

  • Reed

    The U.S. is now addicted to cheap imports; working class and poor Americans wouldn’t be able to live the way they do if prices went up. Walmart is capitalizing on this by building these super ships. This is Business 101.

  • Guest

    We're not shipping them back empty – we're shipping them back filled with our money! figuratively speaking, of course. We're exporting wealth, and importing junk which occupies our minds for a while until it breaks, and resides in our landfills where eventually it contaminates our ground water.

    When I consider a purchase, I ask myself "is this a WANT or a NEED?" And if it's a WANT, I usually don't buy it. I'd rather keep my money.

  • charles

    we did this dont get me wrong wal mart was a good thing in the days but where else u gonna really shop i try to stay out of wal mart cause when i go in there i come out with something i could have done with out and thats just what they hoping you will do

  • Global Maritime

    Cargo ships have truly dominated the seas of today. Shipping is one of the leading industries right now, it is undeniable that shipbuilders and those involved in the trade (like global-maritime ) benefit a lot especially due to demand of consumerism. But more than that, companies responsible in building such super ships must consider the safety of the crew and the shipment. Thanks to technology, large ships are created with quality and assurance. I enjoyed reading your blog, it was very informational, thank you.

  • Ships run empty on trip back to China? Tells me something !

  • The whole United States/Canada political ideology is centered around maximizing corporate profits, not creating jobs. Besides, what American/Canadian wants to spend 40 hours per week making pencil sharpeners anyways? The logical thing to do is buy shares of Wal-Mart and Target.

  • Well said. Thank you!

  • lily714

    Yes of course. More than a few years ago the gas prices had gone up people were complaining. A radio talk show host suggested a date no one buy gas on that day. Enough people heard the show and didn’t buy gas that the next day prices went down. The radio host was so shocked and stated it had been a joke. So yes if we all didn’t buy goods from overseas for a week. A spokes person to get the word out then yes. We the people could make a big difference especially when it comes to their profit!
    I am sick of the p-poor quality of clothing and goods from overseas.

  • Darien

    Nobody gives a sh1t about the environment or saving fuel. SUVs and trucks just become the best selling vehicles in the US. Full speed ahead towards the end. Go USA!!!

  • gininitaly

    This video below shows how much pollution ships add to an already burdened planet… while the ships in this article won’t have the major sewage issue that cruise ships do, the whole ridiculousness of outsourcing manufacturing to 3rd world countries with no pollution laws in their factories and the transporting back and forth of goods…. just adds more garbage to the air, ozone layer, the plants, people and animals who breathe it. We are poisoning our very existence on Earth.

  • ezthere

    balance out? Not in our life time, the difference between the US and the rest of the world? Credit.. as for clean diesel or dirty diesel. It really matters not. Just cause you cant see it or smell it don’t mean its not there.. Humans now burn 96 million barrels of OIL a day. that increases 1 to 1.5 million barrels We live in interesting time.

Blog > Science and Transportation > Supersize ships being built to feed our consumer appetites