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.

News & Analysis

22 Jun 2016
Mega-ships are finding their way into the Asia-Africa and Asia-South America trades.
01 May 2016
Ports will have to compete for business as never before over the next decade, Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said.
container ship infographic
26 Apr 2016
As this infographic shows, container ships and the shipping industry have come a long way since the days of the Ideal X and the birth of modern containerization.
21 Apr 2016
The visionary Global Trade and Logistics Complex that will revolutionize the transfer of cargo between vessels and truck and rail transportation on the West Coast is taking shape in the middle of the Port of Oakland.
20 Apr 2016
The much-anticipated launch of a weekly service with six mega-ships, each with a capacity of almost 18,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, to Long Beach and Oakland is being delayed, having fallen victim to the extremely low freight rates freight rates in the trans-Pacific trade.
20 Apr 2016
Mega-ships have a detrimental impact on supply chains by reducing capacity for just-in-time production and forcing factories to increase safety stocks, according to the transport procurement head of a major global shipper.

Commentary

When the 3,351-TEU container ship Rena grounded off New Zealand in 2011, the cargo losses totaled $1 billion, and the salvage operation took seven months. The loss pales in comparison to what’s at stake as the latest generation of container ships approach 20,000 20-foot-equivalent units.

More Commentary

Video

JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett and Port of Virginia Chief Sales Officer Tom Capozzi got together at the 16th TPM Conference discuss the Port of Virginia’s ability to handle mega-ships efficiently, capacity expansion efforts, and future prospects of trade with Cuba.
At the 16th TPM Conference JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett and Norfolk Southern Railway Director of International Intermodal Randy Bayles discuss how the expansion of the Panama Canal has impacted how NS serves ports on the U.S. East Coast and the challenges presented to intermodal rail providers by container surges from mega-ships.
Port of Los Angeles' Gene Seroka on current status of preparations for mega ships as the opening of an expanded Panama Canal approaches in 2016. Seroka details projects such as the Alameda Corridor, planned to handle trains 50 years into the future, the repurposing of land into "peel-off" yards, and revolutionary technology platforms from the U.S. DOT to Uber-like operations for less-than-truckload shipping.