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

APMT hopes that new cranes able to handle some of the largest mega-ships afloat, pictured, will help transform Pecem, Brazil, into a regional container hub.
21 Jul 2016
APM Terminals and port owner Cearaportus hope to turn the Brazilian Port of Pecem into a regional east coast South America hub.
12 Feb 2016
APM Terminals plans to retrofit at least five cranes at its Pier 400 terminal at Los Angeles to make them capable of handling fully laden mega-ships of up to 20,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units.
09 Feb 2016
A dozen tugboats pulled a mega-ship out of the mud of the Elbe River so that it could call at the Port of Hamburg, illustrating the pressure such gargantuan ships place on ports and rescue crews.
08 Feb 2016
Rather than being a loss for the Port of Oakland, the pending departure of Outer Harbor Terminal will be an economic plus to the port complex because it will concentrate more revenue-producing container volume into fewer marine terminals in order to fund their growth, Executive Director Chris Lytle said at the weekend.
04 Feb 2016
China Shipping Container Lines’ mega-ship Indian Ocean has run aground in the Elbe river roughly 19 miles from the Port of Hamburg, according to the German newspaper Die Welt.
22 Jan 2016
After near-unprecedented congestion rocked the Port of Virginia in 2015, the 50-foot-deep port says it’s ready to handle brisk volume growth coming via the larger vessels soon to move through the expanded Panama Canal — and do so efficiently.

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.