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, especially 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, the giant 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

CMA CGM Corte Real
09 Jul 2014
West Coast ports can breathe a sigh of relief after the rejection of the P3 Network by China’s Ministry of Commerce — a single operational entity won’t have the huge leverage they feared in negotiations over port calls and terminal charges.
01 Jul 2014
Beneficial cargo owners and harbor trucking companies that consistently experience long turn times at container terminals may want to fire their ocean carriers.
10 Jun 2014
Container ships with capacities of 10,000 TEUs or greater are more likely to be delayed at European ports than smaller vessels.
22 May 2014
The Georgia Ports Authority board this week approved $86.5 million to buy four new ship-to-shore cranes and 20 new rubber-tired gantry cranes to allow the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal to accommodate bigger ships and provide faster handling.
Seaspan CEO and co-chairman Gerry Wang
12 May 2014
In an interview with JOC’s Greg Knowler, Seaspan CEO and co-chairman Gerry Wang discusses changing container carrier priorities, mega-ships and why the shipowner welcomes downturns.
Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller
23 Apr 2014
What is today a small club of carriers operating or having ordered 18,000-TEU ships or larger is likely to grow, but not necessarily overnight, as carriers intensify their focus on reducing costs without regard to greater market or infrastructure implications.

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.