Maersk gambles on order for world's biggest ships.
The firm's pounds 1.9bn order amounts to a huge gamble on market growth and finding enough cargo to fill such ships.
It comes in the wake of container lines - including Maersk - having had their worst year in 2009.
Eivind Kolding, Maersk Line chief executive, said the order for 10 new container ships was needed to meet anticipated growth of five to eight per cent in the container shipping market. The $1.9bn order for 10 triple-E class ships is with Daewoo Shipbuilding, of South Korea. They will each have a capacity of 18,000 TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units - the size of a standard container). Their dimensions are 1,300ft (400m) long and 190ft (59m) wide.
These new ships take on the title of the world's biggest from Maersk Line's own E-class ships, which carry 15,500 TEUs.
If Maersk Line takes up its options for a further 20 vessels, the order will be the biggest one ever placed.
These new bigger ships would offer significant economies of scale, said Mr Kolding.
Announcing the order in London, Mr Kolding said: "The cost of operating these ships will be 26% less per container moved compared with ships operating today."
The new ships will sail at only 19 knots, rather than their predecessors' speed of 23 knots.
This "slow steaming" is to reduce fuel and carbon emissions.