Designs for vessels in excess of 20,000 TEU had become quite advanced, according to Andrew Penfold, project director at Ocean Shipping Consultants.
“We have been working closely with ship classification society Lloyd’s Register and can confirm that there is no technical reason why ships cannot go above 20,000 TEU – and we have had very serious discussions about vessels of 22,000 TEU.
“After that, there may be a pause in ordering greater vessel sizes, although I would imagine it will ultimately resume again,” Penfold said while speaking at the Container Supply Chain conference session Cat TOC Europe in Rotterdam.
Maersk Line’s head of network and procurement in north Europe, Hans Augusteijn, said the dimensions of the recent Maersk order of eleven 19,630 TEU vessels were due to the carrier’s assessment of where demand and supply on Asia-Europe trades was heading.
“The reason that Maersk Line has decided to order vessels of 19,630 TEU size is that it was appropriate to keep up with the market growth,” he said. “But we didn’t want to go beyond that because we wanted to grow in line with how we expect the trade to grow.”
He added that issues with berth productivity at terminals were also a mitigating factor, in that although average berth productivity had increased globally in terms of the gross number of crane moves per hour, these increases had not kept pace with increasing vessel dimensions.
Penfold noted that as had previously been the case, an increase in vessel sizes inevitably led to more containers being exchanged in a single vessel call, and that larger vessels would place even further pressure on terminals.