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.

Special Coverage

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

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.
08 Jul 2015
Maersk Line has signed a $1.1 billion contract for nine 14,000-TEU ships from Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, its third major order this year, as it accelerates a $15 billion investment program aimed at consolidating its ranking as the world’s largest ocean container carrier.
01 Jul 2015
The arrival of mega-ships is having a profound effect on port operations at all major U.S. gateways, but the biggest impact by far in terms of congestion is being felt in the two largest port complexes, Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey.
10 Jun 2015
The next generation of mega-ships is already in the planning stages, despite hesitation from some of the world’s largest shippers about their overall value and feasibility.
02 Jun 2015
Maersk Line today signed an order for eleven 19,630 TEUs container ships, in a $1.8 billion deal aimed at consolidating its ranking as the world’s largest ocean carrier.

Commentary

The port operation challenges associated with mega-container ships, which only will grow as dozens of these ships enter service in the next few years, is a key issue pointing to the likelihood that conditions at ports will get worse before they get better.

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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.