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, especially 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, the giant 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.

News & Analysis

Maersk Line Triple E mega-ship Majestic Maersk
24 Mar 2014
The millennia-old insurance principle called general average, which pools the cargo and hull liabilities in a marine disaster, won’t work in an age when container ships of up to 18,000 20-foot equivalent units might be lost.
The 13,800-TEU CMA CGM Corte Real made its maiden call at the Port of Long Beach in November 2013. There were more than 10,000 container moves during its four-day stay. Photo courtesy Port of Long Beach.
21 Feb 2014
Mega-ships and carrier alliances could prove to be the financial savior of the container shipping industry, but they are also straining the operations of marine terminals and motor carriers.
Mega-ship Majestic Maersk
19 Feb 2014
The global container ship fleet this year is expected to grow at the slowest rate in a decade, but large and small shipping lines continue to order more new ships than the forecast growth of global container cargo can fill over the next two years, especially on the Asia-Europe trade.
03 Feb 2014
United Arab Shipping Co. today said it has exercised an option for six additional 14,000-TEU container ships, taking its total order book to 16 vessels worth more than $2 billion.
20 Jan 2014
China Shipping Container Lines has upgraded the capacity of five ships on order at Hyundai Heavy Industries from 18,400 TEUs to 19,000 TEUs, the South Korean shipyard said today as it began construction of the first of the world’s largest container vessels.
Majestic Maersk in Copenhagen
27 Dec 2013
What follows are our picks for the top 10 stories of 2013. Do you agree? Disagree?



In my 42-plus years in the industry, I’ve seen many variations of what we now call alliances — joint services, slot-charter arrangements, vessel-sharing agreements, alliances and now mega-alliances — and more no doubt will follow.


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.