Deployment of bigger container shipping vessels to the United States East Coast ports is yet to take place as carriers take their time to reshuffle their vessel schedules.
Despite the removal of infrastructural obstacles that prevented bigger ships from entering East Coast ports, including the expansion of the Panama Canal and the most recent raising of the Bayonne Bridge at the Port of New York and New Jersey in June 2017, there have been no major changes in vessel sizes from Asia to the East Coast so far, according to CargoSmart.
An analysis of the impact of the Bayonne Bridge raising on the vessel size distribution of vessels berthed at the US East Coast ports immediately after passing through the Panama and Suez canals from May through July showed that no mega vessels visited New York-New Jersey as their first port of call after passing through the Panama Canal in June or July.
“Other than Houston, we did not see a change in the vessel size distribution at each of the ports from June to July,” the shipment management software solutions provider said.
Furthermore, when compared sizes of vessels transiting the Panama and Suez canals, heading for the US East Coast, the largest capacity of vessels that passed through each of the canals remained steady.
The largest capacity vessel heading to the US East Coast and Gulf ports that passed through the Panama Canal was 13, 208 TEUs, while the largest capacity vessel from the Suez Canal was 10, 100 TEUs.
“If carriers are planning to deploy larger vessels from Asia to the US East Coast, it may take more time to adjust schedules and deploy the vessels,” CargoSmart said.
During the first half of the year, amid continued strong demand – inbound for the East Coast North America (ECNA) volumes from Asia were up 8% versus 5% to WCNA, Drewry said.
The shipping consultancy believes that the demand growth and the completion of the Bayonne Bridge raising project, will drive carriers to add even more of the larger ships, with the obvious candidates being the sub-14,000 TEU units still serving in the Asia-Europe trade.
In the Asia-North Europe trade alone there are still about 80 such vessels, of which a large number will need to find new homes as more Ultra-Large-Container Vessels (ULVCs) arrive from shipyards, according to Drewry.