Global shipping business Maersk Line is buying10 container vessels that will be the largest ships in the world, with an option for 20 more.
The new 'mega-ships' will be built by Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) for delivery between 2013 and 2015, and will have a capacity equivalent to 18,000 twenty-foot containers.
They will be known as Triple-E, based on the three main purposes for their creation: economy of scale, energy efficiency and environmental improvement.
At 400 metres long, 59 metres wide and 73 metres tall, the Triple-E will be the largest vessel of any type known to be in operation.
Maersk Line says it is buying the ships - at a cost of USD190 million per vessel - to position itself to profit from an expected 5-8 per cent growth in trade from Asia to Europe, "and to maintain its industry leading market share in the trade".
As well as setting a new benchmark for size; the vessels' CO2 emissions will be 50 per cent less per container moved than the industry average on the Asia-Europe trade.
A waste-heat recovery system will save up to 10 per cent of main engine power, equal to the average annual electricity consumption of 5,000 European households, according to Maersk. The Triple-E class travels 184km using 1kWh of energy per ton of cargo.