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

20 Jul 2017
Pacific Northwest ports believe the true competitive edge will come from faster cargo velocity at the terminals.
17 Jul 2017
A 13,200 TEU vessel that is the largest ever to enter the Port of New York and the US East Coast passed under the newly-elevated Bayonne Bridge Monday afternoon.
10 Jul 2017
“There aren’t many other takeover candidates left on the shelf.”
04 Jul 2017
“With the big ships now, speed and flexibility are as important as reliability of service,” Gary Fast, associate vice president of international transportation at Canadian Tire, told the JOC Canada Trade Forum in Toronto.
29 Jun 2017
A key issue is which ships are allowed to enter the port first if there are several waiting.
28 Jun 2017
“I’m afraid some of the terminals will suffer catastrophic economic failure over the next few years.”

Commentary

Recent industry comments suggest carriers are being cautious in ordering new capacity — new ship orders are down substantially versus 2015 — and also will be cautious on capacity as alliances roll out their service networks. This is leading a number of observers to suggest that the container market gradually may be returning to equilibrium.