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

The 13,000-TEU MSC Cristina, pictured at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, is the largest ship to ever call at an Indian port, and the completion of dredging at JNPT will make calls of similar vessels more common.
09 Aug 2016
India’s busiest container handler this week launched phase two of a dredging project to handle mega-ships.
20 Apr 2016
The much-anticipated launch of a weekly service with six mega-ships, each with a capacity of almost 18,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, to Long Beach and Oakland is being delayed, having fallen victim to the extremely low freight rates freight rates in the trans-Pacific trade.
20 Apr 2016
Mega-ships have a detrimental impact on supply chains by reducing capacity for just-in-time production and forcing factories to increase safety stocks, according to the transport procurement head of a major global shipper.
06 Apr 2016
Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines is negotiating with Hyundai Heavy Industries to purchase up to three mega-ships with capacities of 14,500 twenty-foot-equivalent units.
05 Apr 2016
A group of customs brokers and forwarders has urged the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission to ask more questions before granting container lines’ requests to form vessel-sharing agreements for “super-vessels.”
04 Apr 2016
Container lines’ “big ship obsession” could be about to end as they run out of profitable trades on which to deploy them, according to Drewry Maritime Research.

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.

More Commentary

Video

JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett and Port of Virginia Chief Sales Officer Tom Capozzi got together at the 16th TPM Conference discuss the Port of Virginia’s ability to handle mega-ships efficiently, capacity expansion efforts, and future prospects of trade with Cuba.
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.
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.