NSW Ports has welcomed to Port Botany two of the largest capacity container vessels to arrive in Australia, making history twice in one week.

The Maersk Skarstind (IMO 9740457, flagged in Liberia) arrived at Port Botany Patrick Terminal on Thursday 4 July while MSC Elma (IMO, flagged in Portugal) arrived at the same terminal on Saturday 6 July.

Each vessel is capable of carrying around 9400TEU each and are 300metres long, 48 metres wide, with air draft of about 50metres.


Originating from East Asia, Maersk Skarstind is run by A.P Moller Maersk on the ‘Boomerang’ service and is to call at all major Australian ports before leaving Australian waters on 17 July 2019 and returning to South East Asia.

The Maersk Skarstind has a total container capacity of 9472 TEU and is also the first ‘twin island’ box ship to arrive in Australia.

A special design is aimed at increasing navigation visibility and cargo loading capacity for 9000+ TEU ships by separating the wheelhouse and accommodation block from the engine room and funnel area. 

MSC Elma at berth in Sydney. Credit: NSW Ports

Meanwhile the MSC Elma, operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company on the Australian Express Service from Europe, has a total container capacity of 9411 TEU.

Having arrived on Saturday it is to depart Port Botany on Tuesday 9 July, stopping at Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle before returning to Singapore, Colombo and Europe. 

MSC Australia and New Zealand managing director Kevin Clarke said the increase in the size of vessels arriving into Australia reflected positively on the Australian export and import markets.

Maersk Skarstind at berth in Sydney. Credit: NSW Ports

“The overseas demand for premium Australian products, goods and raw materials continues to be high, whilst at the same time Australian consumers continue to buy imported goods in large quantities,” Mr Clarke said.

“MSC is responding to this demand by deploying vessels capable of shipping the increased export and import volumes to and from all key international markets.”

New South Wales Ports chief executive, Marika Calfas, also noted the trend towards larger ships.

Marika Calfas (centre) is looking to a future of larger ships. Credit: NSW Ports

“While most ships calling into Australia are around 4500 TEU, container vessel sizes are increasing due to the steady increase in the international container freight task and the consolidation of freight by shipping lines to achieve economies of scale,” Ms Calfas said.

“With a natural deep water shipping channel, 12 container vessel berths and a short transit to and from berth facilities, we are pleased to welcome these large vessels and expect to see more visit Port Botany in the future.”