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

Mega-vessels are still making mega-waves across the container shipping industry — from carriers, ports and terminal operators to shippers and insurers — as shipyards churn out increasing numbers of historically large vessels.

News & Analysis

08 Feb 2016
Rather than being a loss for the Port of Oakland, the pending departure of Outer Harbor Terminal will be an economic plus to the port complex because it will concentrate more revenue-producing container volume into fewer marine terminals in order to fund their growth, Executive Director Chris Lytle said at the weekend.
04 Feb 2016
China Shipping Container Lines’ mega-ship Indian Ocean has run aground in the Elbe river roughly 19 miles from the Port of Hamburg, according to the German newspaper Die Welt.
22 Jan 2016
After near-unprecedented congestion rocked the Port of Virginia in 2015, the 50-foot-deep port says it’s ready to handle brisk volume growth coming via the larger vessels soon to move through the expanded Panama Canal — and do so efficiently.
21 Jan 2016
This year’s capacity growth will be the lowest ever recorded for the global container shipping fleet, according to Alphaliner, welcome news for an industry already buried under a deluge of excess vessels that cannot be filled.
Port of Los Angeles, Gene Seroka at PPNA 2015.
19 Jan 2016
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.
Port of Virginia's John Reinhart at PPNA 2015.
19 Jan 2016
Port of Virginia's John Reinhart on their strategy of making many smaller improvements for a lasting, sustained change to operations to expand with the industry.

Commentary

In many respects a success story, the Port of Los Angeles' handling of the mega-ship Benjamin Franklin was the culmination of huge investments in dredging, facilities and systems. But the story looks different from another perspective.

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Video

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.
Port of Virginia's John Reinhart on their strategy of making many smaller improvements for a lasting, sustained change to operations to expand with the industry.
South Carolina Ports Authority CEO and President Jim Newsome sat down with JOC.com Executive Editor Mark Szakonyi on the sidelines of JOC.com’s annual Port Performance North America Conference in December to discuss the Port of Charleston’s strong performance in 2015, the port’s future prospects amid slowing global trade, and the steps it's taking to handle mega-ships that will soon call at East Coast ports.