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

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

01 May 2016
Ports will have to compete for business as never before over the next decade, Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said.
14 Dec 2015
ISELIN, New Jersey — The arrival in Los Angeles on Dec. 26 of the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, with a capacity of almost 18,000 20-foot container units, confirms the business case for automated terminals in Southern California and other major U.S. gateways, according to port planner Larry Nye.
14 Dec 2015
The brand new the 17,859 TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin will on Dec. 26 become the largest vessel to call at the Port of Los Angeles, ushering in the age of the mega-vessel on the trans-Pacific.
26 Nov 2015
South Korea's government plans to conduct research on ultra-large container ships, including the return on investment of the vessels, their impact on ports and the investment needed at terminals to handle them.
Port of Prince Rupert
25 Nov 2015
Brian Friesen spoke to JOC.com about the unique model of Canada's Port of Prince Rupert rail business, which is focused o
10 Nov 2015
The port of Felixstowe has officially inaugurated an extended berth that will enable it to simultaneously handle two mega-container vessels of more 18,000 TEUs capacity.

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

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.
Port of Virginia's John Reinhart on their strategy of making many smaller improvements for a lasting, sustained change to operations to expand with the industry.
South Carolina Ports Authority CEO and President Jim Newsome sat down with JOC.com Executive Editor Mark Szakonyi on the sidelines of JOC.com’s annual Port Performance North America Conference in December to discuss the Port of Charleston’s strong performance in 2015, the port’s future prospects amid slowing global trade, and the steps it's taking to handle mega-ships that will soon call at East Coast ports.