LONG BEACH, Calif. — The arrival in Long Beach this week of the CMA CGM Corte Real, with a capacity of 14,000 20-foot containers, will produce a new North American record for cargo-handling as more than 10,000 container moves will take place during the vessel’s stay.
The vessel call also sends a message to ports on both coasts of what demands will be placed on their infrastructure beginning next year when CMA CGM joins Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. in the P3 alliance that is now awaiting regulatory approval.
Frank Baragona, President of CMA CGM (America), told a ceremony today celebrating the inaugural voyage to North America of the Corte Real that the vessel will transition to the Asia-Europe service. It will be replaced by 11,000-TEU ships, and it is likely that vessels of 11,000 to 12,000-TEU capacity will soon become the workhorses in the trans-Pacific trade to the West Coast.
Due to current water depth and infrastructure limitations on the East Coast, vessels of 9,000 to 10,000-TEU capacity appear better suited initially for those ports.
When the P3 Network begins operations in mid-2014, the member lines combined will deploy the largest vessels of any carrier alliance in the trans-Pacific, according to the consultancy Alphaliner.
The price of admission for ports intending to attract weekly P3 services will be quite high as big ships place big demands on the ports and the inland infrastructure serving the ports.
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The requirements include a water depth of 50 feet, skilled port pilots, ample berth space, quay cranes tall enough to work vessels with containers stacked on deck six to nine high, container yards adequately equipped with rubber-tired gantry cranes, intermodal rail access and gate operations capable of processing several thousand truck calls each day.
Vessels that cost $150 million or more must be turned quickly if carriers are to achieve an adequate return on investment, so they must be worked in about two and one-half days. Ed DeNike, chief operating officer at SSA Marine, said a vessel generating 10,000 container lifts can be turned in that amount of time, but it will require working the vessel three shifts per day, with six container cranes.
The P3 will be unique in that the alliance will be directed from newly created offices in London and Singapore. Services calling in North America will be directed from Singapore. Under this new arrangement, the individual lines will set strategic policy for the alliance, while the London and Singapore centers will direct the tactical operations of the liner services.