CMA CGM MARCO POLO “Round the World in 77 days”


Okpo,South Korea, November 12th, 2012. it is an important date for both the CMA CGM Group and the DSME Shipyard for it is today that the CMA CGM MARCO POLO, the largest container vessel in the world, is being named and officially joins the CMA CGM fleet.
A bottle of Champagne later, with her 24 crew members on board, she leaves the yard to sail to Ningbo, her first port of call in the FAL 1 schedule, day one of a 77 day voyage which will take her to North Europe and back.

Welcome on board!

Her crew has actually been on board for the past 4 weeks, testing her at sea, fine tuning the equipment, testing the 110.000 HP engine capabilities… They were kept very busy indeed as in less than 24 hours she will berth in Ningbo to load her first containers and everything must be shipshape. All crew members went through a thorough training course and deck officers worked on the Marseilles navigation simulator which faithfully reproduced their future environment. Her master, Captain Velibor Krpan told us,

I started as a 22 years old cadet on Croatia lineset vessels and joined CMA CGM in 2002 on board the 350 TEU CMA CGM ORAN. At that time, I never dreamt of one day being the Master of the largest container vessel in the world. Now, there is no great difference between the 13.800 TEU vessels and this 16.000 TEU vessel in spite of her additional 31 m length. Longer and broader than any other vessel in the fleet, she nevertheless requires constant attention particularly during port operations, berthing and leaving berth.

Under deck, by the engine, officers also went through special training to master the enormous Wartsila engine as well as high-voltage electric installations.

The calls segue into one anotherCMA CGM MARCO POLO

Ningbo, China, November 7th

The first container has been loaded on board and the CMA CGM MARCO POLO is now fully operative on the FAL 1 service, the Flagship of CMA CGM Services connecting Asia with Europe.

The master and the crew know that this first voyage will be different from all subsequent ones in as much as all along her itinerary, CMA CGM Offices and Port Authorities are eager to celebrate the opportunity of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO first call in their respective ports.
The Harbor Master offers Capt. Krpan a commemorative plaque, as is customary in the Merchant Marine and back to business. Less than 24 hours later, she sails off to her next port of call.

Shanghai, November 9th

The largest container ship in the world calls the largest container terminal, Shanghai which has just succeeded in becoming the # 1 container port in the world, taking over arch-rival, Hong Kong. Gorden GUO, CMA CGM China Vice President notes that “from January to September 2012, more than 250 vessels of the group called at Guangdong Terminal handling 0.75 M TEU” Shanghai is the seat of CMA CGM China which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012.

Xiamen, November 12th

CMA CGM MARCO POLO called at Xiamen XHDT Terminal, one of the three Asian terminals in which TERMINAL LINK, subsidiary of the CMA CGM Group, has invested, and is strategically located on the China Coast. During her call in Xiamen, the CMA CGM MARCO POLO will handle more than 1500 containers, a good omen for her forthcoming voyage.

Hong Kong, November 13th

The crew is ready, dressed up in its official uniform to welcome customers onboard. The CMA CGM Regional Office in Hong Kong which supervises CMA CGM activities in Asia from Japan to Bangladesh, had organized the first formal event of this inaugural rotation. The vessel is impressive and the crew is proud to guide the visitors in the depths of this giant. Claude Lebel who heads the Regional office said that

we were very proud to welcome the CMA CGM MARCO POLO in Hong Kong, a superlative vessel …our customers were impressed not only by her size, but also by her innovative design and technology.

After Hong Kong, the CMA CGM MARCO POLO called at the ports of Chiwan, the exit gate for the Pearl River Delta and its huge Industrial area and to Yantian. After the first week of this voyage, Ante Pezelj, the chief engineer, expresses his first impressions:

It is a great honor to be working on the biggest and most powerful engine ever built. The mechanics on the Group’s vessels is of a very high level! Electronically controlled to optimize fuel consumption and load power, it is specially designed for slow-steaming. The reduction in fuel consumption is significant (-3% on average). The engine is also fitted with a system to optimize the combustion and engine settings at low load. To master all these technologies, I had to do some specific training courses before embarking: a course on Wartsila electronic engines, a high voltage course, as the electrical switchboard is 6,600V, and another on Resources Management (managing technical and human resources

The vessel leaves Yantian and the crew can for the first time enjoy 3 days at sea in a row after the Chinese Tour which is always very tightly scheduled.

Port Kelang, Malaysia, November 19th

Port Kelang is key in CMA CGM strategy in Asia. It is CMA CGM # 1 port in volume, where all South East Asia and Bay of Bengal cargo is being transshipped. With nearly 2.4 M TEU handled in Port Kelang, CMA CGM represents more than 56 % of the port volumes. 20 main Line services call weekly Port Kelang fed by a network of 12 feeder services.
This port announces the end of the Asian calls and the vessel now leaves for quite a long sailing to join the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. 11 days at sea and the vessel will reach the mythic Suez Canal.

Sailing up the Red Sea, the CMA CGM MARCO POLO will soon join her convoy for the crossing of the Suez Canal, the mandatory causeway to reach the Mediterranean and Europe.
Contrary to the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal offers no particular nautical constraints, no locks, but requires an expensive toll-fee which should approximate 800.000 US$/passage for the CMA CGM MARCO POLO, an amount which weighs heavily on the bottom line of the Line which may justify, in particular circumstances, a return voyage by the Cape of Good Hope.

Tanger, December 6th

After Port Said, the CMA CGM MARCO POLO calls at Tangier, more precisely The EUROGATE Tanger-Med Terminal 2, and another Terminal of which TERMINAL LINK is a shareholder. In Tangier, she will discharge local cargo but also the DELMAS and CMA CGM boxes loaded in Asia and destined to the West Coast of Africa. The Tangier call illustrates the synergies within the Group and the optimization of loading opportunities
The vessel lefts the Mediterranean sea and sails toward Northern Europe, where the cargo is awaited.

Southampton, December 10th

After Tangier, The CMA CGM MARCO POLO sailed nonstop to Southampton, her first port of call in Europe, offering record transit times to our British customers. Flying the Red Ensign, she received a particular welcome in her “Home country”.

Hamburg, December 12th

The giant vessel sails back up the Elbe River to reach the port of Hamburg, the Hanseatic metropolis, our gateway to 20 ports in Scandinavia, the Baltic and Russia relayed by a network of 10 dedicated feeders. Entering and Leaving Hamburg, in addition to the welcome flotilla organized by the Port Authorities, she received the “Wilkomm Hôft” salute a tradition dating back to 1952 whereby every vessel approaching from the river Elbe coming from the estuary is being ceremoniously saluted with the Hamburg flag being lowered and the national flag of the vessel being hoisted. The welcomed vessel can in return dip her flag and blow her fog horn. For a large vessel such as the CMA CGM MARCO POLO, the national anthem of the registration country of the vessel is being played.

Zeebrugge, December 17th

Leaving Hamburg, she continued her itinerary, calling Bremerhaven, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge where a formal Christening ceremony took place. Mrs. Naila Saadé, the vessel’s godmother, broke the traditional bottle of champagne and wished all the best to the vessel and her crew.

Le Havre, December 19th

Her last port of call in Europe, berthing at Terminal de France, another Terminal in the portfolio of TERMINAL LINK, where she completed her loading to Asia. The vessel then left Northern Europe to sail back to the Mediterranean waters and called Malta, Khor Fakkan and Jebel Ali, before calling again in Port Kelang on January 17th. Her call coincided with the discharge of the 50 Millionth TEU handled at Westports Terminal since its opening in 1996, the 52th anniversary of Port Kelang Authority and the breaking of the 10 M TEU mark in 2012.

On January 24th, the vessel is back to Ningbo to start her second voyage...

Routine it is not, and never will be !

Are you aware?

  • Longer than 4 football pitches or 5.5 Airbus A380 aircraft;
  • Bigger than the Empire State Building (381m at the roof) or the Eiffel Tower (324m);
  • Engine as powerful as 1.100 x 100hp cars;
  • Power production for a town of 16.000 inhabitants, equivalent to a dozen wind turbines (14MW)
  • 16.020 TEU capacity, or 97km of containers end to end

CMA CGM MARCO POLO size comparison

1: Car(4m) — 2: Truck(30m) — 3: Airbus A380(72.72m) — 4: Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier(261.5m) — 5: Queen Mary II(345m)

WINTER 2017 / 2018