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.

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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

24 Sep 2015
The cascading of ever-larger ships from east-west liner routes to the north-south trades is the biggest problem confronting container shipping, according to an industry analyst.
10 Sep 2015
Cosco, China's largest shipping company, Wednesday ramped up its mega-ship ambitions by placing a $1.5 billion order for eleven 19,000 twenty-foot-equivalent unit container vessels, expanding its ultra-large containership orderbook from 11 to 20.
boardroom looking at massive container ship through windows, Sue design
15 Aug 2015
Mega-ships have come to dominate conversations in carrier boardrooms, halls of policy, and ports around the world as the industry contemplates and discusses the costs and benefits of these engineering marvels.
11 Aug 2015
Container ships greater than 10,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units calling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in July experienced significantly longer berth stays than the overall vessel average, with Long Beach also recording greater mega-ships arrival delays than the industry average, CargoSmart data has found.
31 Jul 2015
Although U.S. consumer spending is still lagging its potential this year, it is likely to pick up in the second half, but not enough to fill container vessels with the imports needed to support freight rate increases. That was the takeaway from Thursday’s JOC webcast on the Peak Season Shipping Forecast.
22 Jul 2015
The average port delay of mega-ships at five major European gateways in June was just half that of the overall average vessel delays at the ports, according to the surprising findings of a study by CargoSmart.


With much of our surface transportation infrastructure decaying and becoming functionally obsolete, we can’t wait 40 years for Congress to confront the threat posed to our economy by inadequate railways, tunnels, bridges and roads, including those connecting to seaports.

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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.