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.

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

CMA CGM Corte Real
09 Jul 2014
West Coast ports can breathe a sigh of relief after the rejection of the P3 Network by China’s Ministry of Commerce — a single operational entity won’t have the huge leverage they feared in negotiations over port calls and terminal charges.
10 Mar 2014
Many U.S. East Coast and Gulf ports will struggle to handle the larger container ships the P3 and G6 carrier alliances likely will deploy on trans-Atlantic routes, according to Drewry Maritime Research.
Acting Long Beach Port Director Al Moro and JOC senior editor Peter Leach.
25 Feb 2014
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.
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.

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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.