Regular mega-ship calls power Colombo growth

Regular mega-ship calls power Colombo growth

The MSC Maya, pictured, is just one of the many mega-ships that make regular stops at the Port of Colombo and have contributed heavily to the port's traffic growth.

Colombo International Container Terminals this week hosted the MSC Maya, reportedly the largest container ship ever to call Sri Lankan shores, as mega-ship calls power growth at the port of Colombo.


The 2015-built Maya is about 396 meters (1,299 feet) long and has the capacity to carry up to 19,224 twenty-foot-equivalent units. Such behemoths are arriving more frequently in the South Asian nation, and statistics collected by show CICT’s throughput in the first eight months of 2016 has increased 30.2 percent from the corresponding period last year to 1.29 million TEUs.

The Panama-flagged vessel has been deployed in the Geneva-based carrier’s Asia-North Europe Swan Service that calls Xingang and Qingdao, China; Busan, South Korea; Shanghai, Ningbo, and Yantian, China; Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia; Algeciras, Spain; Felixstowe, United Kingdom; Antwerp, Belgium; Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven, Germany; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Singapore; Hong Kong; and Yantian.

“There will be six more similarly classed ships to call on Colombo in the near future under the same service,” MSC Lanka said in a statement.

The mega-ship call adds further momentum to CICT’s rapidly rising throughput growth. CICT is a joint venture between China Merchants Holdings (International) and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, in which the Chinese group invested $500 million for an 85 percent stake under a 35-year concession contract.

"The arrival of the MSC Maya in Colombo is a perfect example for the rationale for a deep-water terminal of the scale of the Colombo International Container Terminal," said CICT chief executive officer Ray Ren.  

CICT, which began operations in August 2013, includes a 1,200 meter (3,937 feet) quay, an 18-meter alongside depth, 12 quay cranes, 40 rubber-tire gantry cranes, and an annual capacity of 2.4 million TEUs.

The terminal is the first phase of the 12-berth Colombo South Harbor Hub Project that will eventually have three terminals, each with a quay length of 1,200 meters, and a combined capacity of 12.2 million TEUs per year.

CICT booked a whopping 118 percent year-over-year jump in volume in 2015 thanks to calls from the latest generation of mega-ships, which included the 16,652-TEU MSC New York and the 16,020-TEU CMA CGM Marco Polo as they sailed the Asia-Europe trade lane.

That growth comes as India is preparing to build a deep-water, green-field hub port at Enayam near Colachel in Tamil Nadu meant to reduce domestic shippers’ increasing dependence on Colombo for mainline shipping connections, which creates additional logistics costs.

Colombo Port has the biggest share of the Indian transshipment cargo pie, accounting for 48 percent in fiscal year 2014 to 2015, according to India’s Ministry of Shipping.