Mega-Ships

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

The 12,500-TEU MSC Fabiola broke records when it first called at California ports in 2012.
West Coast ports will spend the coming year in much the same way they spent the past year: preparing for big ships operated by big carrier alliances.

News & Analysis

15 Oct 2014
A record number of ship deliveries will combine with declining scrapping rates and mid-single-digit growth in volume to extend the gap between container ship supply and demand through 2015, according to a leading maritime research consultant.
CMA CGM Corte Real calls at the Port of Long Beach.
07 Nov 2013
LONG BEACH, Calif. — The arrival in Long Beach this week of the CMA CGM Corte Real, with a capacity of 14,000 20-foot containers, will produce a new North American record for cargo-handling as more than 10,000 container moves will take place during the vessel’s stay.
MSC Beatrice at the Port of Long Beach
25 Oct 2013
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together this year will spend more than $1 billion for deeper channels, taller cranes, terminal automation, intermodal connectors and environmental enhancements, and most of the record spend is being driven by bigger ships.

Commentary

The port bottlenecks that flow directly from the profusion of big ships truly hit home this year, with cargo delays being felt from Asia to Latin America, traced back to the bigger ships calling at ports ill-equipped to handle them.

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.