April 01, 2024

The Future Container Ship Problem

John F.DiLeo

I don't want to scare all of you people who are sitting at home planning on ways to protect our bridges from crashes - either accidental of intentional... but please keep this in mind:

The Dali is not a big ship by today's standards. It's an average sized ship.

Containerships are measured in TEUs - 'twenty-foot equivalent units' - because almost all intermodal containers are either 20' or 40' long. (most are actually 40's).

The Dali is a 10,000 TEU containership, meaning that when fully loaded, it holds about 10,000 twenty foot containers. Since most containers shipped internationally are 40's, this means it holds about 5000 of them. In this case, the ship had just under 4800 containers at the time of the impact.

But many of the new builds coming out of the shipyards nowadays are massive ships that dwarf the Dali. The new ships are about 20,000 TEUs, double the size and capacity of the Dali. Some are even bigger. I think the biggest is about 24,000 TEUs, almost 2.5 times the size of the Dali.

Where am I going with this? Only to say that, no matter what precautions you hope for, it's critical to remember that ships keep on getting bigger, and there's no reason to assume we've hit the maximum size yet. Maybe in 10 or 20 years the average will be 30,000 TEUs. Maybe 40,000. I have no idea. Our ports couldn't handle ships that big today, but Singapore and Rotterdam could, and eventually more and more ports will be refitted to handle these bigger and bigger vessels.

And that's why I believe we have to make tradeoffs in life. I don't believe there's a way to secure a bridge like the Key Bridge against a crash with the size of containerships today or in the future.

I think we just just say, no more bridges outside of containership ports. Period.

Structural engineers and government types will say I'm wrong because they can design for any eventuality. Maybe they can. But in my opinion, the risk is too great.

We simply can't afford to keep throwing tax dollars we don't have at every crazy desire and hoping we can engineer our way out of it somehow.

Tim adds:

It wasn't just the bridge in Baltimore; it's been happening other places too.

But Isee no way they won't have a bridge like the FSK bridge OR will allow ships into the harbor that far.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:13 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
Post contains 416 words, total size 3 kb.

1 Assuming all youse guys are still watching this scene, did you see that they just discovered a high-pressure natural gas line under where that container ship is currently stuck? Just more fun...

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at April 03, 2024 11:16 PM (yndMF)

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