How much can a container ship hold?

When people see a container ship in person for the first time, they are often surprised at its enormous size. Even the smallest container ships will look massive compared to a person standing on the dock. According to Alphaliner, the world's TEU capacity is 15,899,687 with TEU being a 20'std container equivalent. Maersk, the largest shipping company in the world, has a full capacity of 2,536,335 TEU in its fleet. Last year Maersk introduced a new class of vessels called triple E that can hold 18,000 TEU which is 16% larger than a vessel that is the next size down. These types of ships range up to around 437 yards (400 meters) long and 64 yards (59 meters) wide. It is comparable to 4 football fields in length so the enormity is overwhelming. It was not always this way though. When container shipping first began, they did not have the technology that they have now. The most a ship might handle would be significantly less than the current standard size vessels. Not only were they retro-fitted to accommodate the new standard container sizes, but they could only hold a certain amount of weight. Even now, one of the largest concerns of building larger container ship sizes is how it will make it around the world. In fact, as new container ships are designed and built there can be setbacks. In 1996, Maersk introduced the Regina Maersk which broke all kinds of records at the time, but it was rumored that Maersk was unable to fill it to capacity in the beginning due to the weight and the water displacement in the sea near the ports. If they were to fill it completely without fixing it, the ship would have hit the ocean floor. Whether this is true or not, the shipping industry has been pushing ahead in technology to constantly out due itself and ships are larger than ever.