Ports Must Adapt to Mega-Ships



Peter Mallin, Senior Project Manager; and Alex To, Senior Project Civil Engineer, Mott MacDonald, London, UK


Ever since the Emma Maersk containership was launched in 2006, mega-ships have not only grown in size and capacity, but have increased in number too. This is a trend that is set to continue. The trend is being driven by shipping companies, as the economy of scale of using larger ships on fewer journeys reduces the unit cost of shipping goods. These efficiencies are especially lucrative on the world’s long distance trade routes, predominantly between the Far East and Europe, but increasingly from South America and Africa too.
This increase in mega-ships will continue to impact on port operators. Historically, ships have always led the way in terms of technological advances, with port infrastructure adapting to these changes reactively. Bigger vessels reduce costs to shipping companies, but more complicated logistics and larger capacity infrastructures mean higher costs to ports. However, shipping companies have the luxury of being the customer, and will choose port stops according to the facilities and convenience they offer. If port operators don’t want to lose out, they need to adapt their assets to accommodate mega-ships…
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