Trans-Pacific in Mega-Ship Boom

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The trans-Pacific trade route could see a boom in the number of larger ships, following the introduction of the 17,859 TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, which will be the largest ship to call at the Port of Los Angeles on December 26, 2015, according to the Journal of Commerce.

Rodolphe Saade, Vice Chairman of CMA CGM, said: “The fleet of CMA CGM operates vessels from very small to very large, and we believe that together with the fleet of NOL, we will be in a position to deploy the largest capacities available to take advantages of capacities of scale.”

CMA CGM recently secured a deal to acquire Neptune Orient Lines for around US$2.4 billion, which, together with the recent Cosco-CSCL sign off, will boost the share of top four shipping lines from 41.5% to 47.2%.

Ron Widdows, a veteran in the shipping industry, said: “The peaking effect associated with large ships hasn’t happened yet. The amount of capacity coming is enormous and will play out over the next couple years, and the pressure these carriers will be under from a profitability standpoint will be significant.

“So the operational pressure that comes from that is going to start to play out. It will put more pressure on chassis, more pressure on trucks, a peaking of the use of the assets in an environment that is already very fragile.”

Despite the predicted boom in ship sizes along the trans-Pacific route, the on-time performance of the trans-Pacific was said to be worse than the Asia-Europe route in the last 12 months.

With the anticipated boom in container volumes, a number of US West Coast ports are spending heavily on infrastructure in preparation for the opening of the Panama Canal in April, 2016.

Larger ship sizes are pressurising ports globally, and are causing higher peak and dwell times, as well as rapid terminal obsolescence.

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