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Largest container ship ever to dock in Belgium arrives at port of Antwerp

Posted on April 26, 2023

Early on Friday morning, one of the largest container ships of all time, the MSC Tessa, arrived in Antwerp. But exactly how big is it?

The container ship is 400 metres long – good for four football fields in a row, or about 70 metres atop the Eiffel Tower. This, however, does not make the ship unique in length: a similar container ship was launched back in 2014.

Still, the MSC Tessa stands out due to the number of containers it can carry.

While its length may be similar to some other ships, MSC Tessa is considerably wider than most container ships; Its 61.5m width means the ship can carry up to 112 more containers than the previous record ship in the Port of Antwerp.

As the construction of container ships is becoming more efficient, more containers fit on the boats. Next month, the record set by the MSC Tessa will already be broken again when the MSC Loreto comes to Belgium with more than 200 additional containers.

“I do not know how much bigger ships can get before one gets stuck,” Christa Sys, professor of Maritime Economics at the University of Antwerp (UAntwerpen), told VRT, adding that the ships are flirting with the limit.

“If you have bigger ships, everyone also has to follow with investments,” said Thierry Vanelslander, also a professor at UA. “The port and docks have to be expanded. Extra dredging sometimes has to be done so the ship definitely does not run aground.”

Especially equipment such as the cranes at the terminal need to be adapted. According to experts, this means that it is unclear whether we can expect even larger ships in the port of Antwerp in the coming years.


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