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

30 Sep 2016
Colombo International Container Terminals this week hosted the MSC Maya, reportedly the largest container ship ever to call Sri Lankan shores.
26 May 2016
Hyundai Merchant Marine has said its financial restructuring will allow it to acquire mega-ships.
24 May 2016
Redevelopment of the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 moved forward this week.
23 May 2016
At the 16th TPM Conference JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett and Norfolk Southern Railway Director of International Intermodal Randy Bayles discuss how the expansion of the Panama Canal has impacted how NS serves ports on the U.S. East Coast and the challenges presented to intermodal rail providers by container surges from mega-ships.
01 May 2016
Ports will have to compete for business as never before over the next decade, Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said.
container ship infographic
26 Apr 2016
As this infographic shows, container ships and the shipping industry have come a long way since the days of the Ideal X and the birth of modern containerization.

Commentary

When the 3,351-TEU container ship Rena grounded off New Zealand in 2011, the cargo losses totaled $1 billion, and the salvage operation took seven months. The loss pales in comparison to what’s at stake as the latest generation of container ships approach 20,000 20-foot-equivalent units.

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