Bigger Ships will make fewer Port Calls

by Mark Millar on 2013-02-28

CMA CGM Marco Polo

The maritime session at the Asian Logistics and Maritime conference in Hong Kong specifically explored the Ocean Freight Sector, with Eric Ip, Deputy Group Managing Director of Hutchison Port Holdings questioning the economic and business benefits from increasingly bigger vessels.


The latest 12,000+ TEU vessels, and soon-to-arrive 18,000 TEU ships, present challenges for terminal operators who need larger berths, bigger cranes and deeper water in order to accommodate these increasingly large container ships – “bigger ships will make fewer port calls”.

According to Andy Tung, CEO of OOCL, the intra-Asia trade is now the world's largest ocean freight segment, representing some 62% of global total container volumes. He commented that for each single long haul container move, for example Asia to USA or Asia to Europe, there are likely two-to-three short haul intra-Asia container moves.

Mr Nazery Khalid, senior fellow at the Maritime Institute of Malaysia gave a lively presentation on maritime mega trends, reinforcing that the containerised shipping sector is dependent on derived demand. Volume fluctuations are primarily driven by external drivers such as population growth, outsourcing trends, emerging new economic powerhouses, factory locations, global recession and financial crisis, rising awareness of climate change, need for environmental protection and fluctuations in the oil price.

The shipping sector therefore needs to respond and react to these macro-economic drivers, whilst balancing the supply and demand of vessel capacity and related port capabilities.

The discussion confirmed how containerised ocean freight is at the heart of the majority of 21st century global supply chain ecosystems.  Hong Kong and Singapore are the leading maritime centres in Asia, both blessed with strategically significant geographic locations and long standing histories as international trading hubs and maritime centres, which has resulted in best-in-class capabilities in logistics and supply chain management, based around enviable competencies in people, facilities and technology.

Logistics and Maritime practitioners and communities around the region must work together to address new challenges in The Asia Era and solve how best to embrace new technologies and ever larger vessels.

Industry thought leader Mark Millar has been engaged by clients as Speaker, MC, Moderator or Conference Chairman at more than 260 events in 20 countries and is recognized by the Global Institute of Logistics as “One of the most Progressive People in World Logistics”; mark@markmillar.com