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    Sea TransportOwners Matters

    Entering the new era: Building mega-ships of 22000 TEUs and more

    All major container shipping carriers seem to be involved in a race to upgrade their fleets with new vessels of extended capacity compared to the existing ones.

    Latest orders concern ships with transport ability of over 22000 TEUs. Some of these “giants” are already on the water, while the largest shipyards in the world have their books filled with orders for more than 30 similar size vessels.

    But what is the reason that we move towards building such big vessels? Why do the analysts opine that shipbuilding will improve that much as to reach ships of half a kilometer long and capacity of 50000 TEUs in 50 years from now?

    One basic reason is the energy footprint of sea transport to the environment. By applying new technologies in engine construction and the implementation of evolving shipbuilding techniques, ships of this size are more efficient and eventually have lower fuel consumption. Quite a considerable number of companies are nowadays sensitive in regards to the energy footprint of their products. Carriers who focus on improving this factor are eventually preferred compared to those who do not. Ships of this size, due to the volume of cargo they transport, return a much better factor of CO2 emission per TEU.

    Economies of scale and reduction of sea transport cost is another major factor taken under consideration, if not the most important. Ships of 20-22 thousand TEUs reduce the sea transport cost, as with only one trip, there is increased quantity of goods transported, while the shipping cost, the port dues and other charges are spread to a higher number of containers.

    In correlation with the constantly increasing number of alliances or synergies and the use of the same shippping routes by competing companies, the reduction of the cost is considered a factor with huge influence on the profitability of the shipping lines. These huge ships are intended to be placed solely on the routes for which the capacity demand is constantly high and the profit margins are, generally, squeezed.

    Undoubtedly, a change of that size in container’s sea transport is a challenge for the future, though it’s also an opportunity for those who are prepared to face it. Such big ships – and even bigger in the near future – will dictate the need for ports that can respond to this size. Towards this direction, all major port operators globally are getting prepared for the sooner or later mandatory deepening of their terminals. Deep sea terminals will be a priority topic for the owners or port managers who will want to be part of the new era route planning. It will be mandatory for them to upgrade their cranes and get new stronger tug boats to cover the upcoming higher needs.

    Development is already here and the world map of container sea transport will be changed, since only the ports that are getting prepared will be able to welcome the new “sea giants”.
     
    Thanasis Panagiotopoulos
     
     
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