Now who would have thought that? The oldest radio programme in the world still running really did originate here in North …
PanMax, SuezMax, NOK Max! Who actually is this Max? It might really be better to ask: What is Max? Because in this case, these three letters are the short form for ‘maximum‘, indicating the maximum ship size for passing through a canal, namely the Panama , Suez or Kiel Canal, with NOK being the abbreviation of the original German ‘Nord-Ostsee-Kanal’ or ‘North Sea-Baltic Canal’.
Why am I going into all this? Well, there’s a series of four Kiel-Canal-Max newbuildings. This autumn the first one, the ‘Delphis Bothnia’ has gone into service. This containership is setting really new standards: With a length of 177.56 m, a width of 30.50 m and a capacity of over 1,900 TEU, she is the biggest feedership of all, specially designed for operating in the Baltic.
In contrast to the Panama Canal, for example, with the Kiel Canal it is much less a question of the lock measurements being the limiting factor, but rather the draft with a maximum of 9.50 m. Depending on the length and width of a ship, the permitted limit is reduced proportionally. This means, for example, that a freighter with a length of 160 m and a width of 27 m must be unloaded to achieve a draft of 9.50 m. Because of it larger dimensions, the Delphis Bothnia is only permitted a draft of 8.80 m during passage on the Kiel Canal. This means that she can pass through the canal when not fully loaded.
Despite incurring Canal fees and the obligatory pilot, the some eight-hour voyage through the Kiel Canal is worth it. On average the shipping companies save a good 250 sea miles for the voyage between the North Sea and Baltic in comparison to the Skagen route. This saves time and bunker. So, then it is not surprising that the Kiel Canal is the busiest man-made shipping canal in the world. Topping this you can add some 14,000 pleasure craft that use the canal annually.