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

The 12,500-TEU MSC Fabiola broke records when it first called at California ports in 2012.
West Coast ports will spend the coming year in much the same way they spent the past year: preparing for big ships operated by big carrier alliances.

News & Analysis

Cosco Philippines
31 Aug 2014
Cosco Container Lines (Cosco) is placing an order for five 14,000-TEU vessels as it continues with an aggressive tonnage scrapping programme to revitalise both its fleet and its flagging profits.
Container stacks say "18000" at the opening of Berth 5/6 at Container Terminal Burchardkai. Photo copyright HHM / Zilski
26 Aug 2014
German terminal operator Hamburger Hafen und Logistik (HHLA) has unveiled a new berth capable of handling the largest container ships at its Container Terminal Burchardkai at the Port of Hamburg.
Edith Maersk
25 Aug 2014
The persistent congestion clogging major gateway ports in the U.S. and Europe is raising a debate about whether it’s just peak-season volumes causing delays in import shipments or the inability of ports to handle the sharp growth in container ship sizes.
Cranes
14 Aug 2014
Container terminals in gateway ports around the world, already suffering from congestion caused by mega-ships, may not be able to keep up with their ever-increasing size because of limits on crane technology and the lack of yard space.
Construction underway at APT Terminals Izmir
12 Aug 2014
APM Terminals Izmir ordered three ship-to-shore quay cranes and 10 rubber-tire gantry cranes from ZPMC for its new container terminal at Turkey’s port of Petkim.
12 Aug 2014
Bulk and tanker shipowner Scorpio Group said today that it will enter the container ship market by helping to build the l

Commentary

Other than last week’s stunning collapse of the P3 Network, there’s arguably no hotter issue in the container shipping world than port productivity.

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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.