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.

Special Coverage

Walmart remained atop the list of the 100 largest US importers by a wide margin in 2019, while Koch Industries retained to the No. 1 export spot.

News & Analysis

29 May 2020
Spot container rates spiked from the previous week as retailers replenished diminished inventories and after capacity has been reduced through dozens of blank sailings in May.
29 May 2020
After spiking in March due to increased demand for essential goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic, truck detention has receded but remains a disruptive factor for truckers that can backfire on shippers when capacity is needed.
29 May 2020
Extensive capacity cuts on the Asia–Europe and Asia–Med trades are holding up container spot rates, and some carriers are even announcing rate increases in May and June.
29 May 2020
As intra-Asia volumes seek to find their footing amid COVID-19, the mounting war of words over China’s initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak could result in a shift of multinational manufacturing from China to other regional players.
29 May 2020
The main concern for US resin producers in 2019 was an increase in Chinese import tariffs, but that has been overshadowed by macro-economic concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
28 May 2020
With nine working tracks unveiled at the Port of Savannah’s Mega Rail Terminal Thursday, the Georgia Ports Authority is nearly finished with Norfolk Southern's portion of a large intermodal rail yard.
28 May 2020
Norfolk Southern Railway has begun on-dock rail service from the Port of Baltimore, replacing an offsite yard, as part of a larger effort to make intermodal more attractive to BCOs using the port.
28 May 2020
Spot truckload rates are inching up as the reopening of many businesses shifts cargo, and capacity, to the contract market. That’s tightening spot capacity as loads increase.
28 May 2020
Carriers say container booking cancellations, and the failure of importers and exporters to notify them of the cancellations, are contributing to supply chain disruptions during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
28 May 2020
The current round of government support appears to have re-kindled the debate over whether such influence is detrimental to the container shipping industry.
28 May 2020
The first offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes has been approved, but with an unexpected condition attached that project developers say severely dilutes the economic benefits.
28 May 2020
The addition of DP World to Maersk and IBM’s blockchain platform TradeLens is a feather in the cap of the still nascent container logistics network, bringing a string of more than 80 terminals and associated business into the fold.
27 May 2020
Containerized agricultural exports surged in the first quarter over the year-ago period when China’s tariffs on many US commodities crushed ag exports to China.
27 May 2020
Now in its second episode, this week’s JOC Uncharted delivers essential news and analysis to understanding the freight shipping world with a special focus on the future of US-China trade, tight air cargo capacity, and rising chassis tensions. Hear from Peter Levesque, president of Ports America, and the JOC editorial team on how the pandemic is reshaping supply chains.
27 May 2020
With the US imposing higher tariffs on goods from China, importers of household goods moved production to Southeast Asia last year, primarily Vietnam.
27 May 2020
The search for transportation’s fuel of the future is regaining the momentum built up in 2019, with high-profile initiatives launched in May to accelerate research into alternatives to fossil fuels.
27 May 2020
It was a solid first quarter for Zim, as the carrier managed to improve its profitability despite the growing impact of the coronavirus through the reporting period.
27 May 2020
A wave of government support measures and the rising threat of overcapacity speaks to the pain on the way, even if carriers have shown they’ve learned from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis not to pull punches when it takes to cutting capacity quickly.
27 May 2020
A Salesforce-based logistics software provider has established a critical goods network to link suppliers, buyers, and 3PLs that wouldn’t ordinarily be connected to one another.
26 May 2020
Produce shipments from western and southern US states provoked a refrigerated spot rate spike in May, and some truck shortages in California.
26 May 2020
Expeditors has acquired Fleet Logistics, pulling digital forwarding capabilities into the arsenal of the trans-Pacific’s largest non-vessel-operating common carrier.
26 May 2020
Forwarding software providers continue to link up to provide amplified value to logistics companies, the latest example being SimpliShip and Qwyk teaming to provide rating and quoting tools to an Asia-based forwarder alliance.
26 May 2020
PIL, which raised more than $550 million from the sale of box ships earlier this year, said it has agreed on a debt repayment holiday until the end of this year with most of its main lenders.
26 May 2020
Increased import tariffs on Chinese-made toys in 2019 caused some shippers to shift sourcing to Vietnam, accelerating the diversion of those cargoes from Los Angeles and Long Beach to ports on the East and Gulf coasts.
26 May 2020
Adrian Pinna, who retired this spring, had a style harkening back to what some consider the good old-days of container shipping, before a relatively young industry took on a more buttoned-up style.
25 May 2020
Blank sailings are making it difficult for ag shippers and truckers to make appointments for delivering export containers to marine terminals, and they are experiencing additional supply chain costs as well.
25 May 2020
Partnerships between digital freight brokers and TMS providers continue to be formalized, which should benefit shippers looking for extra sources of capacity in their core transportation planning and execution systems.
25 May 2020
With schools and retailers shut down across the country, imports this summer of back-to-school items and holiday season goods may be much lower than in prior years.
25 May 2020
The Marseille-based startup technology incubator’s newest cohort features a duo of companies aiming to automate the trade compliance and administrative work done by logistics providers on behalf of shippers.
25 May 2020
Walmart remained atop the list of the 100 largest US importers by a wide margin in 2019, while Koch Industries retained to the No. 1 export spot.
22 May 2020
Cargo owners argue the waiver on port storage fees will ease the the container backlog at Chittagong marine terminals, but some shipping agents disagree.
22 May 2020
As countries across Europe and North America begin to emerge from lockdowns that in some cases have been in place since early March, attention in the air cargo industry is shifting to the recovery phase.
22 May 2020
Nearly five months into 2020, US agricultural exporters say their main concerns are logistical issues such as blank sailings in the trans-Pacific, ocean carrier detention and demurrage charges, and supply chain disruptions due to “earliest return date” (ERD) mandates.
22 May 2020
Tightening truck capacity will collide with rising freight demand by 2021, flipping pricing power back to truckers next year, Coyote Logistics predicts, but consumer behavior is a wild card.
22 May 2020
Congressional representatives of New York and New Jersey this week sent a letter to House and Senate leaders in support of $3 billion in financial aid for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
21 May 2020
The massive demand destruction in the oil sector has triggered billions of dollars in capex cuts, shrinking the project cargo pipeline.

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.

Video



IHS Markit Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh shares his outlook for global economic and trade growth with attendees at the 18th Annual TPM Conference at a time of growing uncertainty surrounding fiscal and trade policy.



CEO and Executive Director of the Port of Virginia John Reinhart and JOC Executive Editor Mark Szakonyi discuss the year ahead at the Port of Virginia amid growing volumes and shifting transportation landscape.



Sponsored: Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero discusses big-ship ready improvements, in