RLL Container Report - 26 July 2017
From: John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd. Email: email@example.com Date: 26 July 2017
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island
The number of containerships of 13,000 teu or above deployed on the Asia-US West Coast trade has nearly doubled since the start of 2017. The huge investment in Ultra Large Container Vessels of 18,000 teu or more has had a dramatic effect on the trade from the Far East to Europe. Now, as the 10 to 15,000 teu vessels are reallocated to other trades, the full impact is being felt in ports around the globe. Container ports on the West Coast of the USA report a near doubling of 13,000+ teu vessels deployed on routes out of Asia rising from 21 to 36 by the end of May.
One direct consequence has been a reduction in the total number of vessels calling at US west coast ports. This, in turn, has raised a few logistical problems at the US terminals. Although Canada and USA have a long coast line looking out on to the Pacific Ocean, there are in fact relatively few ports of call suitable for these larger vessels. This contrasts with the situation in Europe, where several ports are capable of receiving the even larger box carriers. All the main European ports also have extensive road, rail, feeder and barge operations that can easily and quickly distribute laden boxes to local receivers.
Most boxes off-loaded at West Coast ports are destined for the large population centres around the New York Island and the Mid-West, including the Chicago metropolitan area, which sits on the shore of Lake Michigan. This is home to no less than 10 million people, all eager to purchase the latest technology and fashions from manufacturers in the Far East. Chi-town is over 3,000 km from the container terminals in Los Angeles and even further away from the main Canadian terminal at Vancouver. This means that although the vessels they receive are smaller than those calling at European ports, the terminals on the West Coast are having to handle greater numbers of containers from each vessel that calls. This puts a strain on the port infrastructure as well as well as the employees and the distribution network of trucks and trains.
Contrast this with the English port of Felixstowe, which handles the giant box carriers serving the Far East trade with the United Kingdom. Felixstowe recently received the OOCL Hong Kong, the world’s largest boxship with a capacity of 21,413 teu. The Edwardian seaside town, which sits on the River Orwell, is home to less than 30,000 inhabitants and is located a mere 150 km from the British capital and its population of 8.5 million. From the port of Rotterdam to the Ruhr Area with its population of 5.1 million is a mere 200 km and can be served by road, rail and barge. It is an even shorter distance from the French port of Le Havre to the bright lights of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The Ile-de-France region, which includes the French capital, is by far the largest urban region on continental Europe. Of course, the old continent has had at least two thousand years to establish its major cities and transport infrastructure. Our American cousins are still on a steep learning curve.
John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd.
26 July 2017
Copyright ©, 2017, John Keir