Christmas arrives as giant ship berths

THOUSANDS of people braved chilly temperatures to watch one of the biggest ships on the sea sail into Suffolk.The Emma Maersk - a container vessel a quarter of a mile long, 200ft high and as wide as a motorway - arrived at the Port of Felixstowe on Saturday night bringing 45,000 tons of Christmas goods to UK shops.

By Danielle Nuttall

THOUSANDS of people braved chilly temperatures to watch one of the biggest ships on the sea sail into Suffolk.

The Emma Maersk - a container vessel a quarter of a mile long, 200ft high and as wide as a motorway - arrived at the Port of Felixstowe on Saturday night bringing 45,000 tons of Christmas goods to UK shops.

The ship, thought to be the biggest afloat, began its round-trip in Gothenburg, Sweden, and has called at Yantian, China, Hong Kong and Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia, before reaching Britain.


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Her cargo includes toys, books, computers, Christmas crackers, decorations and food.

Six giant cranes were tasked yesterday with unloading 3,000 containers packed with Christmas goods, before the vessel moves on to ports in mainland Europe carrying another 8,000 containers.

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Crowds gathered on the beach at Felixstowe and at Shotley to catch a glimpse of the huge ship, which is on her maiden voyage.

The Emma Maersk is nearly 1,200 ft long, nearly 180ft wide and 200ft high (the height of a 12-storey building). By comparison the Titanic, launched in 1911, was about 800ft long, nearly 100ft wide and 175ft high.

Her main engine generates 109,000 horsepower - the equivalent of 1,156 family cars - and she can carry 11,000 20ft containers - the equivalent of a 71 kilometre (44m) long train.

Last month the Green Party warned of the environmental damage such giant ships could cause.

“The environmental costs of long-distance trade need to be properly taken into account,” said Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South East England.

“We must manage international trade in a way which is socially and environmentally sustainable, working towards global agreement on a raft of measures such as taxation on fuel and import tariffs designed to support home-grown businesses and offset the environmental damage caused by ships like the Emma Maersk plying international waters filled with MP3 players and plastic toys.”

But the ship's Danish owner, Maersk Line, said the vessel was “one of the most environmentally friendly” container vessels built.

Experts also say the emergence of the Emma Maersk is an indication of how the focus on global manufacturing has shifted from Europe and the United States to China in recent decades.

A port spokeswoman: “The Emma Maersk is the biggest ship we have ever had in Felixstowe by about 40%. She was guided in and moored without a hitch and we are absolutely delighted with the way the operation went.”

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