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.
13 Jan 2016
A proposal by the Port of Long Beach to reduce the amount of time allowed for the storage of containers at marine terminals from four days at present to six work shifts has brought into sharp focus the congestion issues that cargo interests face not only in Southern California, but at all major gateways as they struggle to handle some of the largest container ships afloat.
13 Jan 2016
Maersk Line is still the world’s largest ocean carrier by capacity but its closest rivals, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM, posted higher fleet growth rates during 2015, according to Alphaliner.
11 Jan 2016
A record 214 new container ships were delivered in 2015, increasing the global fleet’s total capacity by 8.5 percent to 19 million 20-foot equivalent units by the end of the year, according to Alphaliner.
11 Jan 2016
The average size of container vessels deployed on the Asia-U.S. West Coast route will continue to steadily increase, but mega-ships such as the 18,000-TEU Benjamin Franklin are unlikely to be deployed on the trade in the short term, Drewry believes.
08 Jan 2016
The freight rate volatility that characterized 2015 has continued into the New Year with spot prices falling across the major east-west trades and led by Asia-Europe and Mediterranean routes that gave back a good chunk of last week’s gains.

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.