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            may 21, 2018

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Alliances will make 13,000-TEUers workhorses of the transpacific


Ports on the east and west coasts of North American are preparing to handle 13,000-TEUers as carriers in new alliances settle on what is to be the workhorse of the seas, says industry consultant David Arsenault.
"The sweet spot now is 13,000 TEU," said Mr Arsenault, president of Logistics Transformation Solutions and former president of the Americas at Hyundai Merchant Marine.
Addressing the Harbour Association of Industry and Commerce in Long Beach, Mr Arseneault said that under the restructuring of the global vessel-sharing alliances carriers in the Pacific have established a hub-and-spoke networks.
Under the system, big ships are filled at load-centre ports or transshipment ports then call at ports in the Americas, Mr Arsenault said, reported IHS Media.
This means fewer, but bigger ships call at North American ports, discharging in some cases twice as many containers as were discharged from the smaller panamax vessels, placing greater demands on vessel, yard, and gate operations at the terminals.
While shippers do not consider vessel sizes in their booking decisions, bigger ships can create congestion, said Steve Hughes, vice president of Centric Parts, an auto parts importer.
Recently, the 20,568-TEU Madrid Maersk began service in the Asia-Europe trade. It is the first of 11 so-called second-generation Triple-E class ships that will enter service for Maersk.
Maersk has nine 15,226-TEUers on order, a sign of what is to come as four carriers - Evergreen, Maersk, MOL, and OOCL - take delivery of nearly a score of 20,700 TEUers this year, according to IHS Markit Maritime & Trade.
While the 18,000 to 21,000-TEUers will be deployed on the Asia-Europe route their arrival will prompt the re-assignment of the 13,000 - 15,000-TEUers to the transpacific, Mr Arsenault said.
With the Panama Canal expanded to transit 13,000-TEUers and New York-New Jersey's Bayonne Bridge increasing air draft to accommodate same size ships, mega ships will become commonplace in freshly dredged American ports.
Carriers have no choice but to deploy bigger ships in the major east-west trade lanes because the reduction in per-slot cost costs of $400 to $500 are so compelling, he said.
Carriers that do not enjoy the economies of scale of the big ships will not be able to compete in the transpacific, Mr Arsenault said.

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