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.

News & Analysis

Maersk Line Triple E mega-ship Majestic Maersk
24 Mar 2014
The millennia-old insurance principle called general average, which pools the cargo and hull liabilities in a marine disaster, won’t work in an age when container ships of up to 18,000 20-foot equivalent units might be lost.
21 Mar 2014
Ocean container lines and the shipowners that lease ships to them are suspending new ship orders for fuel-efficient mega-
Port of Hong Kong
13 Mar 2014
The Port of Hong Kong got a much needed boost in its capacity to handle container mega-ships...
11 Mar 2014
United Arab Shipping Company’s decision to exercise an option for a sixth 18,000-TEU vessel simultaneously highlighted the growing importance of size as ocean carriers seek to cut unit costs and increased the pressure on rivals to scale up to mega ships.
10 Mar 2014
Many U.S. East Coast and Gulf ports will struggle to handle the larger container ships the P3 and G6 carrier alliances likely will deploy on trans-Atlantic routes, according to Drewry Maritime Research.
Acting Long Beach Port Director Al Moro and JOC senior editor Peter Leach.
25 Feb 2014
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.

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Commentary

In my 42-plus years in the industry, I’ve seen many variations of what we now call alliances — joint services, slot-charter arrangements, vessel-sharing agreements, alliances and now mega-alliances — and more no doubt will follow.

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.