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, especially 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, the giant 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

Maersk Line Triple E mega-ship Majestic Maersk
24 Mar 2014
The millennia-old insurance principle called general average, which pools the cargo and hull liabilities in a marine disaster, won’t work in an age when container ships of up to 18,000 20-foot equivalent units might be lost.
MOL Comfort. Photo courtesy gCaptain.
24 Jul 2013
As the first quarter drew to a close, 2013 was shaping up as a year of paradoxes....
Maersk McKinney Moller container ship, Triple E
09 Jul 2013
South Korea’s port of Busan is making preparations for the maiden call of a Maersk Triple E container vessel next week.
04 Jul 2013
Tumbling shipyard prices and easy credit are driving the recent surge in container ship orders at a time of industrywide overcapacity, according to consultant Drewry.
Evergreen container ship
03 Jul 2013
The top 21 ocean container carriers increased the combined capacity of their fleets by 6.3 percent in the past year amid slowing cargo demand, according to industry analyst Alphaliner.
The CMA CGM Jules Verne calls at the Port of Le Havre.
24 Jun 2013
The CMA CGM Jules Verne has made its maiden call at the Terminal de France in Port 2000 in Le Havre, France, as part of its first rotation on the French Asia Line 1 service, connecting Northern Europe with Asia.

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Commentary

In my 42-plus years in the industry, I’ve seen many variations of what we now call alliances — joint services, slot-charter arrangements, vessel-sharing agreements, alliances and now mega-alliances — and more no doubt will follow.

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.