Following the recent announcement that CMA CGM are set to deploy six mega-ships to the US West Coast, sceptics have said that the real test will come when USWC ports will need to handle more than one mega-ship simultaneously, which has been previously argued will not happen until 2017, according to the Journal of Commerce.
This issue is intensified over the readiness of labour workers, as a result of the dispute in early 2015, despite ports such as Long Beach recently seeing eight consecutive months of volume increases.
Robert McEllrath, President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said: “We have to do a good job here so that cargo stays on the West Coast. If you sit with [a] labourer and you sit with management, you can work it out.
“They had nine gangs on that ship and produced more than 30 moves an hour. That’s really good and bodes well for management and labour, and that’s the way we have to continue to work.”
McKenna concluded: “It’s a testament to what we can do when we work together.”
US ports announced previously that they were scrambling to ramp up infrastructure in order to prepare for the surge in traffic coming through the Panama Canal when it is completed on June 30, 2016.
However, this may not be enough if mega-ships begin to make regular calls into the US, and could require a major reshuffle in labour, as well as infrastructure development.