Shipspotting 101 – Container Ships

Containerships are one of the most common vessel types to call on Halifax. While these vessels can be measured by their dimensions, the most common unit of measure is the TEU – Twenty foot Equivalent Units.

This is the count of the Number of 20′ containers that can be carried on a ship. Containers are typically 20, 40, 48 or 53 feet in length, and can vary slightly in height.

Post Panamax

These are ships too large to Fit through the Panama Canal. The Largest Vessels that can fit Are called Panamax. Halterm has been dredged to 50′ to accommodate these vessels.

APL Coral is a Post Panamax vessel that frequents Halifax. these vessels are usually larger then 6000teu. Currently the largest Scheduled visit is just over 9000TEU.


For Container ships,  965′ long, 106’wide. Draft 39.5′ and a 190′ Airdraft. the Airdraft of the 2 Harbour bridges is 50m, 7m less then panamax, though most ships have a lower mast. these ships are in the 4000-6000 teu range.

OOCL Antwerp is Typical of the Panamax vessels we get. She Comes in at 5888TEU. These vessels were up untill recently the majority of the container ships comming into port.


Seawaymax vessels are 740′ long, 78′ wide, and have a draft of 26.51′ and a airdraft of 116′ they are typically sub 3000teu, and can make it into the great lakes. Maersk Calls on Halifax (And Montreal) with a set of 2902TEU veseels.

The presence of container guides in the holds typically differentiates Container ships form general cargo. The Guides are easy to see on the AFL New England (Now trading as WEC Majorole) And the Stadt Cadiz (below) Compare the 2747 TEU Stadt Cadiz to the 700 TEU AFL New England.

The Stadt Cadiz also carries cranes. this is common, and allows ships to service unequipped ports. If overhead cranes are available, the ship mounted ones are simply swung out of the way. The Melfi Iberia blow shows how versatile container traffic can be. with flat pallets, you can ship entire trucks, buses and trailers.

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