100 years in Brazil for Maersk

CO2_targetIt was 100 years ago today when Maersk Line – the world’s biggest private-sector shipping company – began to trade with Brazil for the first time. Steamship Laura Maersk reached Brazil’s shores on 19 February 1913, docking at Paranagua first – nearly seven weeks after the ship was launched on 1 January 1913. 

“The importance of Brazil to Maersk Line has changed significantly since 1913, we have gone from 2,800-tonne bulk cargo ships to a fleet of SAMMAX 88,237-tonne container cargo ships and we have played a key role in helping the food industry establish itself as a major global player,” said Peter Grangaard Gyde, CEO of Maersk Line Brazil. “But this is just the beginning, we are now helping our customers transport commodities from grains to metals via door-to-door container delivery, providing Brazilian producers access to new markets by opening trade routes across our global services network,” he added.

In February and March 2013, Maersk Line will be launching its 15th and 16th SAMMAX vessels – short for South America Maximum, which completes deliveries on 16 new ships costing USD 2.2bn. The last remaining ships to be launched are the Maersk Lamini and the Maersk Labrea. The ships are specifically designed to be the largest ships that can safely enter Brazil’s ports. The gearless ships largely transport poultry, meat and fruit today. The first SAMMAX to arrive in Brazil was the Maersk Lima in June 2011. The SAMMAX has a draft of 13.5m and a length of 299.9m. The ships carries 7,450 TEU, has 1,700 reefer plugs, travels at a speed of 22.5 knots – more than three times faster than Laura Maersk, and has 51,909 BHP, or 38,889kW. The crew compliment is 28 versus 25 for the Laura Maersk.

Looking back

On that historic day, way back in February of 1913, Laura Maersk carried 2,800 tonnes of cargo with just four hatches; the engine had three cylinders, 1,400 HP and a speed of up to eight knots. In terms of size, she was just 14m wide, 97.7m long and 6.15m deep. With a crew of 25 that included four engineers, Laura Maersk was built to trade with Brazil and was known for transporting bulk cargo such as grain, timber and coal at the time.

It was not for another 81 years when Maersk Line’s first-ever container ship Maersk Santos arrived at Santos port in 1994, representing the start of a new era for Maersk Line in Brazil. In 2000, for example, the beef industry used only open cargo ships; today they have completely migrated to refrigerated container cargo to transport goods worldwide. This same trend is now starting with the grain, fertilizer, mineral and metal industries.

The arrival of Laura Maersk and Maersk Santos highlight some of the key changes in Brazil’s evolving global trade story. Today in the latest trend, metal and fertilizer producers, like beef companies more than 10 years ago, are increasingly turning to containers as a means of reaching new markets for the first time.