MS Emma Maersk: Santa's giant helper arrives

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Groaning with gifts and dwarfing any Santa's sleigh, the world's biggest container ship docked in Britain yesterday on a maiden voyage to pick up and deliver thousands of tons of Christmas presents, decorations and food across the globe.

The 170,000-ton MS Emma Maersk, with 13 crew, left Gothenburg, Sweden, in September, calling at Yantian, China, Hong Kong and Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia. The vessel is the largest at sea, a quarter-mile long, 200ft high and powered by the biggest diesel engine ever built.

In the 11,000 containers are two million Christmas decorations and thousands of electronic goods, 12,800 MP3 players, 33,00 cocktail shakers, 150 tons of New Zealand lamb, thousands of frozen chicken and 138,000 tins of cat food. About 45,000 tons of goods are being unloaded at Felixstowe, then the ship sails for mainland Europe to deliver 8,000 containers. The journey from China to Europe was specifically to deliver Christmas stocks

Its owners, Maersk Line, said the ship could cover 200,000 miles a year - equivalent to around seven voyages around the world.