The next generation of carrier ships will run on cleaner fuel and less of it. They will transform to optimize performance under different conditions and be more versatile than ever, revolutionizing the way we ship. Explore the latest designs in the gallery below.

Click here to launch a gallery of the newest, most efficient carriers that have been thought up.

Maersk Triple E

Once it is completed, the $190-million Maersk Triple E will be the world’s largest and most efficient class of container ships. Its 1,312-foot-long, U-shaped hull will hold 18,000 containers—about 2,000 more than the next biggest ship. Whereas most container ships are propelled by a single diesel engine, the Triple E has two. But even traveling at 19 knots, it will require only half as much fuel to deliver its cargo, in part because of recovery of engine waste heat. South Korea based Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering will complete the first 10 for Maersk by 2015.

Quantum 9000

The Quantum 9000, now just a concept from the Norwegian ship standards firm DNV, would be the first container ship to run on liquid natural gas, or LNG, the cleanest available marine fossil fuel. Making the switch would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent, and sulfur oxide emissions by 95 percent. The Quantum 9000 would be “midsized”—that is, big enough to carry nearly 9,000 containers in its 1,030-foot-long hull but still small enough to fit through the soon-to-be expanded Panama Canal.

NYK Super Eco Ship

When the 8,000-container NYK Super Eco Ship arrives at a port, it splits into four segments. The middle two units dock, and the forward and aft sections reconnect and move on to pick up two new, fully stocked middle sections. The 1,158-footlong Eco Ship concept, designed by Japanese shipping line NYK, would get most of the power needed to drive its electric propellers from container-size LNG fuel cells that the crew can swap out or add like cargo. Solar cells blanketing the entire upper decks and sides and eight retractable telescoping masts with lightweight airfoil sails provide the rest.


German logistics engineer Volker Rosenkranz proposes the CargoXpress, a 200-container catamaran that transforms into a sailboat at sea and into a highcapacity loading crane when docked, making it perfect for short hauls between small ports. In favorable winds, the 203-footlong superstructure flap would open like a clam shell to serve as a giant sail-wing; solar cells would give the electric-motordriven propellers an extra boost of clean energy. At port, the superstructure would extend a cantilevered crane over the dock to transfer containers directly from ship to shore.


The four-masted 377-foot-long Ecoliner from Dutch shipbuilder Fair Transport B.V. may be the first of a new fleet that uses sails for primary propulsion. Unlike traditional sailing ships with crisscrossing lines and rigging, the Ecoliner has four freestanding sails, each of which electronically rotates to achieve the best angle. When there’s not enough wind, a diesel-electric engine kicks in to power a propeller. The Ecoliner, which can transport 200 containers using up to 90 percent less fuel than a similar-sized conventional vessel, could haul its first load by fall 2013.