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

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

19 Nov 2014
Ports are set to dominate container shipping strategy with the focus on terminal productivity and capacity expansion, industry analysts said at the JOC Group’s Port Performance Conference Europe in London.
19 Nov 2014
The new ocean carrier alliances set to launch in 2015 will operate more reliable schedules, removing a major factor behind the congestion that has plagued major container ports this year, marine terminal operators said at the JOC Group’s Port Performance Conference in London today.
17 Nov 2014
The Asia-North Europe trade faces a “huge” impact from the influx of more than 50 ultra-large container vessels over the next 15 months, Drewry shipping consultants say.
13 Nov 2014
Maersk Line CEO Soren Skou said today the world’s largest container line will likely order more Triple-E ships over the next six months.
15 Oct 2014
A record number of ship deliveries will combine with declining scrapping rates and mid-single-digit growth in volume to extend the gap between container ship supply and demand through 2015, according to a leading maritime research consultant.
Hapag-Lloyd's Hamburg Express container ship
14 Sep 2014
Container freight rates will stabilize and may trend upward over the next few years despite the existing overcapacity of vessel space because of the expansion of existing carrier alliances and the creation of new ones, according to Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd.

Commentary

The port bottlenecks that flow directly from the profusion of big ships truly hit home this year, with cargo delays being felt from Asia to Latin America, traced back to the bigger ships calling at ports ill-equipped to handle them.

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.