Mega-Ships

Mega-Ships

The rise of ‘mega-ships’ (often defined as ships with a capacity greater than 10,000 TEUs) took place in earnest during the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. In their search for greater fuel efficiency and economies of scale, the world’s container carriers increasingly ordered larger and larger vessels, especially for use on the Asia-Europe trade lane.

Until the development of mega-ships, carriers that sought to service the East Coast of North America with the earlier generation of ‘post-Panamax’ ships needed to transit the Suez Canal because those vessels were too big to sail through the Panama Canal. 

With the gradual introduction of the mega-ships, the average capacity of container ships deployed on the Asia-Europe trade lane has become especially large.

Despite the cost-effectiveness of mega-ships, some major North American ports have faced the challenge of mitigating the bottlenecks at marine terminals that result from container exchanges involving such massive volumes of cargo.

At sea, other sorts of challenges may stem from the fact that there are so many containers on these huge vessels. Several high-profile (even deadly) fires on mega-ships have highlighted the dangers of packing so many containers onto a single vessel, while driving up related insurance costs. In addition, the enormous capacity of such mega-ships often raises the probability that dangerous goods may have been loaded aboard.

Several fires on board container ships have been caused by hazardous or flammable cargo that was misdeclared. One of the most common culprits is calcium hypochlorite, used to treat drinking water and swimming pools. While this chemical may be carried on board ships, there are stringent guidelines regarding how it should be carried. Some less scrupulous shippers have misdeclared it as fertilizer or as other more stable compounds in order to avoid paying a higher freight rate.

Alerted to such risks, ship operators, insurers and regulators are increasingly focusing on the chemicals, batteries and other goods that can trigger or feed a fire.

News & Analysis

14 Nov 2019
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam unveiled an international trade plan to boost exports by 50 percent in the next 15 years, a key initiative since laden exports fell between January and August for the second consecutive year.
05 Sep 2017
The significant number of mega-ships set to enter Asia-North Europe by the end of 2018 has resulted in capacity upgrates on many services on the trade.
16 Aug 2017
After chasing market share during the rate wars of 2016, Maersk Line is now concentrating on maintaining profitability in the recovering market.
14 Aug 2017
The huge container ship that ran aground while leaving the Port of Antwerp, obstructing access to Europe's second busiest port, has been refloated.
28 Jul 2017
Sponsor Video: Collaboration from vessel to terminal to rail and onward comes naturally, GCT Canada's Chris Ng said, because, as in football, no one wants to fumble the ball.
26 Jul 2017
Sponsor: Making BCO partnerships centric with the terminal strategy is vital, says Jeremy Ford, APM Terminals' head of commercial.   
20 Jul 2017
Pacific Northwest ports believe the true competitive edge will come from faster cargo velocity at the terminals.
17 Jul 2017
A 13,200 TEU vessel that is the largest ever to enter the Port of New York and the US East Coast passed under the newly-elevated Bayonne Bridge Monday afternoon.
10 Jul 2017
“There aren’t many other takeover candidates left on the shelf.”
04 Jul 2017
“With the big ships now, speed and flexibility are as important as reliability of service,” Gary Fast, associate vice president of international transportation at Canadian Tire, told the JOC Canada Trade Forum in Toronto.
29 Jun 2017
A key issue is which ships are allowed to enter the port first if there are several waiting.
28 Jun 2017
“I’m afraid some of the terminals will suffer catastrophic economic failure over the next few years.”
27 Jun 2017
The passage under the newly raised Bayonne Bridge in the Port of New York and New Jersey of half a dozen ships that could not have made it before the raising of the bridge marks the opening of a new era for the port.
07 Jun 2017
The Seattle-Tacoma alliance will purchase an additional four cranes to enable its ports to better handle mega-ships.
23 May 2017
According to analysts, low freight demand, overcapacity, and the consequent tightening of profit margins has placed shipbuilding on a sort of hiatus, but it won't last.
18 May 2017
Roughly $4.6 billion is needed at East and Gulf coast ports to remedy pinch points in harbor infrastructure.
25 Apr 2017
Authorities on Tuesday removed the height restriction on certain ships going under the Bayonne Bridge in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
05 Apr 2017
Authorities are planning to investigate the cause of a fire that broke out in the bow of a 13,800 twenty-foot e
12 Jan 2017
In late 2016, JOC.com spoke with the Port of Los Angeles' Christopher Chase about getting the details right when it comes to handling mega-ships.
15 Dec 2016
South Africa’s national ports authority, Transnet, said it will shortly release a multi-billion-rand tender for maritime construction works at the country’s primary container port.
14 Nov 2016
A global shippers group is questioning whether the savings container lines enjoy through the deployment of mega-ships, alliances, slow steaming, and consolidation are being fairly shared with importers and exporters, urging for a new commercial contract between shippers and liners.
04 Nov 2016
The port of Liverpool on Friday officially inaugurated a new deep-sea container terminal as it works to create a new ocean trading gateway to re-jig the national supply chain.
As newer mega-ships such as the MSC Maya, pictured, continue to enter service on the Asia-Europe trade, ships with capacities of as many as 13,000 TEUs will have to find new deployments on less busy routes.
31 Oct 2016
Container lines face “huge” headaches as they seek routes to deploy vessels made redundant on the Asia-Europe trade lane.
24 Oct 2016
Multiple calls by large vessels on certain days of the week, known as vessel bunching, are straining the equipment and labor resources at US ports and presenting a growing threat to productivity at container terminals.
19 Oct 2016
Los Angeles and Long Beach have served as a laboratory for creative measures to cope with the growing container volumes and the surges of cargo from mega-ships that have also challenged other US ports.
30 Sep 2016
US ports so far have been doing a reasonably good job loading and unloading mega-ships within the required berthing windows, but carriers’ relentless deployment of ever-larger vessels will soon catch up with terminal operators.
30 Sep 2016
Colombo International Container Terminals this week hosted the MSC Maya, reportedly the largest container ship ever to call Sri Lankan shores.
Feeder vessels take cargo delivered to transshipment hubs and gateway ports by mega-ships, such as the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, pictured, to smaller ports unable to handle such behemoths.
16 Sep 2016
CMA CGM is outsourcing some of its global feeder operations in a move rival carriers likely will follow.
13 Sep 2016
Container traffic at the port of Salalah, operated by APM Terminals, surged in the first half of the year.
07 Sep 2016
HHLA, the largest terminal operator in Hamburg, Europe’s third-largest port, has exercised an option for three more ship-to-shore cranes.
The APM Terminals facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, will be able to handle ships with capacities of 13,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units upon completion of the new investments.
31 Aug 2016
APM Terminals is to invest millions in a new berth at its Port Elizabeth terminal in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
29 Aug 2016
An 11-year high tide combined with beach erosion to shut down South America’s busiest port and cast doubt on plans to dredge deeper so the port can handle larger ships.
The 13,000-TEU MSC Cristina, pictured at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, is the largest ship to ever call at an Indian port, and the completion of dredging at JNPT will make calls of similar vessels more common.
09 Aug 2016
India’s busiest container handler this week launched phase two of a dredging project to handle mega-ships.
30 Jul 2016
Ports in the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Northwest are planning feverishly for the larger cargo surges they know will occur in the coming years from big ships operated by powerful carrier alliances.
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.
The 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, pictured in San Francisco Bay during a call to the Port of Oakland in February, could be one of the mega-ships the Ocean Alliance plans to deploy to the U.S. West Coast.
19 Jul 2016
The Ocean Alliance plans to deploy the largest ships ever seen by U.S ports on the trans-Pacific trade.

Commentary

The Port of New York and New Jersey will face multiple-port competition for discretionary cargo in the decade ahead and with the head of the seaport departing, that intensifying competition calls out for a leader with operating experience.