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

When the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin pulled out of Los Angeles in late December after an unprecedented effort by the port community to work the largest container ship ever to call at a North American port, no one was prouder than the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

News & Analysis

12 Jan 2017
In late 2016, JOC.com spoke with the Port of Los Angeles' Christopher Chase about getting the details right when it comes to handling mega-ships.
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.
01 Apr 2016
DP World-operated Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminals at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust on Friday hosted the MSC Cristina, reportedly the largest container ship ever to call Indian shores.

Commentary

Recent industry comments suggest carriers are being cautious in ordering new capacity — new ship orders are down substantially versus 2015 — and also will be cautious on capacity as alliances roll out their service networks. This is leading a number of observers to suggest that the container market gradually may be returning to equilibrium.