Endless Growth in Container Ship Sizes to Be Stopped?

The increase of containership sizes driven by the need to create greater economies of scale seems to be an endless process. Vessels of more than 21,000 TEU are presently on order. However, the further effects of lower slot costs lessen as ships get larger. Hence a further increase in ship sizes would not significantly reduce transport costs anymore and therefore hardly induce any additional containerised cargo. In contrast the necessary efforts to prepare the ports for ships of ever-increasing size are growing over proportionally with every additional metre of draught and/or beam. The objective of the paper is to question whether all size-related costs for infrastructure and suprastructure measured at both ends, which are necessary to accommodate mega vessels would still leave an overall positive balance. Costs of fairway deepening and widening and other infrastructure measures are put into relation to the actual savings per slot out of the economies-of-scale effect provided by operating ever bigger vessels. It is shown that an ongoing increase of containership sizes, e.g. in the Europe-Far East trade, does not bring any further benefit, neither for the ports and their terminals nor even for the lines itself! It is an amazing mechanism that all stakeholders act rationally but the overall effect for all of them (including the public) has turned into negative. The results may pave the way for a closer cooperation among ports, e.g. within the Hamburg-Le Havre range. Ports and terminals may see the opportunity to escape the spiral of ongoing efforts for deepening und widening the fairways and installing ever bigger gantry cranes by agreeing on a joint policy with regard to maximum ship size.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 256-264
  • Monograph Title: Proceedings of the International Forum on Shipping, Ports and Airports (IFSPA) 2015: Empowering Excellence in Maritime and Air Logistics: Innovation Management and Technology

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01609704
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9789623677967
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 8 2016 3:22PM