From the Desk of Capt. Jeff Monroe, MM, AMPE
THE AMERIMAX SHIP
Ports have been heavily focused on eliminating infrastructure limitations including terminal capacity, waterway depth and channel configurations, bridge heights, rail capacity, and roadway access. New cranes are arriving for the container trade on a regular basis. The question comes up “How big do we build?” Recently, the discussion of the AMERIMAX containership has come up. These ships are roughly the maximum size of the ships that can be handled in the new locks in the Panama Canal, but also reflect the general limitations of most of the largest container ports in North America. Coming in at just under 15,000 TEU’s and with a length of around 1,300 feet, beam of 170 feet, and draft of 50-52 feet, these ships are well-suited to the largest North American ports. It’s never just a matter of water depth; it’s also all of the other factors dealing with capacity. While some ships larger than that have called on North American ports, with capacities up to 18,000 TEU’s, most have come into ports short-loaded.
The question remains: where are the largest ultra-large container ships expected to call? So far, ocean carriers are putting them on the Asia-Europe routes. For North American ports, this may be an opportunity with expanded calls on each ship route for the largest container ports.
Here's the bottom line: While the focus should remain on eliminating infrastructure limitations, supersized ports may not provide the anticipated returns we all hope to achieve.