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

Hapag-Lloyd's Hamburg Express container ship
14 Sep 2014
Container freight rates will stabilize and may trend upward over the next few years despite the existing overcapacity of vessel space because of the expansion of existing carrier alliances and the creation of new ones, according to Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd.
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.
MSC Fabiola at the Port of Long Beach, Calif.
24 Oct 2013
West Coast ports today are capable of handling the water and landside demands that the current generation of big ships are making on their infrastructure, but they must spend billions of additional dollars to accommodate even bigger container ships that will call there in the next few years.
CMA CGM Othello transiting the Suez Canal
16 Oct 2013
SHENZHEN, China — Container rates will be even more volatile over the next 12 months, as liner consolidation is unlikely and the proposed alliance between the top three carriers will only make the trio and others more competitive with pricing, said an executive consultant at Alphaliner.
The Cosco England is Cosco's largest ship with a capacity of 13,400 20-foot-equivalent units.
11 Oct 2013
The 13,400-TEU Cosco England has made its maiden call at the U.K.’s Port of Felixstowe.
NYK Arcadia at Global Terminal in Bayonne, N.J.
11 Oct 2013
Global Terminal in Bayonne, N.J., this week handled a ship with capacity of 9,300 twenty-foot-equivalent units, reportedly the largest container ship to call at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Commentary

Other than last week’s stunning collapse of the P3 Network, there’s arguably no hotter issue in the container shipping world than port productivity.

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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.