CMA CGM Marco Polo

The World's largest containership

396 meters long / 16,000 TEUs


The CMA CGM MARCO POLO towing exercise hour-by-hour

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10:00 – The RIAS meets up with the CMA CGM MARCO POLO

The CMA CGM MARCO POLO headed for the Mediterranean and the Malta hub at the end of its tour of the ports of Northern Europe before setting course for China. The vessel then paused for 4 hours in order to participate in the exercise.

The exercise began at 10:00 with the helicopter winching off ten staff from CMA Ships and the French Navy, and at 12:30 two people were transferred onto the container vessel from the Abeille Bourbon by Fast Rescue Boat.

12:30 – The 80m long Abeille Bourbon takes on the 396m CMA CGM MARCO POLO

The CMA CGM MARCO POLO simulated an Engine Propulsion failure and took up a position beam on to the wind. Her large wind profile ensured a rapid drift of approximately 1.5 to 2 knots.

The Abeille Bourbon then began its rapid towing maneuver.

13:00– The CMA CGM MARCO POLO is towed

The tug approached before throwing her line and have it fast on board of CC Marco Polo. This is a dangerous maneuver in bad weather because the ships involved need to be close to each other. The exercise validated the efficiency of the emergency towing system, SMIT BRACKET, situated on the prow and the stern of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO.

Despite the 12,144 M² of wind-exposed hull of the vessel, the Abeille’s and Marco Polo’s crew took only 20 minutes to make fast this giant of the seas, and the towing operation began at 13:30 with the Abeille Bourbon setting a speed of 6.7 knots.

15:00– This exercise, the first ever of its kind, ended in success

The Abeille Bourbon stopped towing at 2 PM, and the towline was cast off one hour later. The operations had lasted for over 4 hours.

“The crews of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO and Bourbon as well as the Navy and evaluation teams cooperated well and the operation was carried out safely. This exercise will supply us with useful feedback which will help us to to improve the safety of vessels off the French coast” said Dominique Balmitgère, Deputy Vice President SSE.


On 5 November, the CMA CGM Group took delivery of the biggest vessel in its fleet and currently the world’s largest (capacity) containership, the CMA CGM MARCO POLO capable of carrying up to 16,000 TEUs.
With this blog, you will find out all about the vessel as well as many interesting aspects of a merchant fleet: from building the vessel, to training those who sail on her, the goods carried and the technical innovations to protect the environment.