Santa's big helper

Thousands of families all over Europe will be opening Christmas presents delivered from the Far East on the maiden voyage of the huge ship dubbed “SS Santa”.

The MS Emma Maersk is the largest container vessel in the world, carrying over 11,000 shipping containers filled with much of Europe’s holiday shopping list.

And much of the cargo on this real-life replacement for Santa’s sleigh is insured at the world’s leading specialist insurance market – Lloyd’s.

“London is at the heart of the cargo insurance sector and Lloyd’s has a core of specialist underwriters who have been in this class of business for many years,” says Phil Levers, divisional director of HSBC Insurance Broker’s Cargo Division.

The Maersk is a quarter of a mile long - nearly twice as long as the Titanic - and is powered by the world’s biggest diesel engine, which weighs a staggering 170,000 tonnes. Designed to be environmentally friendly, its hull is covered with a special paint which reduces friction in the water making it more fuel efficient.

Levers says that such new and bigger vessels can have a benefit for cargo owners and insurers alike.

“There is little doubt that we are now seeing a new breed of bigger vessels,” he explains. “There are more due to be built, and as development work continues higher levels of safety will be incorporated, making them a better risk for the underwriters.”

Neil Smith, Marine, Aviation and Transport Manager at the Lloyd’s Market Association, says: “As ships become bigger and more sophisticated, and the goods they are carrying more diverse and valuable, the marine industry and the insurers which back them meet the challenge on a daily basis.”

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