Mega-Ships

Mega-Ships

Seeking efficiency and economies of scale, the world’s container carriers are increasingly ordering mega-ships capable of handling more than 8,000 20-foot-equivalent container units, with even larger vessels appearing particularly on the Asia-Europe trade lane. Shippers and carriers looking to reach the North American east coast with these post-Panamax ships must transit the Suez Canal because, as their name implies, they are too big to sail through the Panama Canal. But with Panama’s decade-long canal expansion project set for completion in 2015, many larger vessels will be able to add the Panama Canal to their route options. Ports around the world are preparing for the onslaught of these mega-ships, dredging harbors and investing in super-post-Panamax cranes that can reach across 22 or more rows of containers to expedite loading and unloading operations.

Special Coverage

But the ports should recoup much of their lost market share next year and beyond if they address their congestion and labor problems, speakers at the Port of Long Beach Pulse of the Ports breakfast said Wednesday.

News & Analysis

01 Jul 2015
The arrival of mega-ships is having a profound effect on port operations at all major U.S. gateways, but the biggest impact by far in terms of congestion is being felt in the two largest port complexes, Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey.
10 Jun 2015
The next generation of mega-ships is already in the planning stages, despite hesitation from some of the world’s largest shippers about their overall value and feasibility.
02 Jun 2015
Maersk Line today signed an order for eleven 19,630 TEUs container ships, in a $1.8 billion deal aimed at consolidating its ranking as the world’s largest ocean carrier.
Maersk container ship under construction
28 May 2015
The cost savings brought by mega-ships are decreasing and might not even be realized as container ships get ever larger, the International Transport Federation warns.
13 May 2015
Convinced that Oakland will return to normal operations by the end of May, port executives are looking ahead to the beginning of peak-shipping season this summer, and they will soon roll out a series of operational improvements to prepare for the next surge in cargo.
06 May 2015
The economics of the mega-ships of 18,000 20-foot-equivalent units that container lines are building and deploying may not be all they are cracked up to be. The savings that carriers are touting as the reason for ordering them may not be as great as advertised when all their costs are factored in.

Commentary

The port operation challenges associated with mega-container ships, which only will grow as dozens of these ships enter service in the next few years, is a key issue pointing to the likelihood that conditions at ports will get worse before they get better.

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Video

Acting Long Beach Port Director Al Moro talks about the ambitious projects to prepare the port for the big new container ships that are calling there. POLB and private investors are providing billions of dollars to build new rail lines and a huge automated container terminal, as well as to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which is too low for the new ships.