Shippers’ Voice has asked if the continued introduction of ever-larger ships brings any benefits to exporters, importers and others who actually pay the bills.
Dr Andrew Traill, Managing Partner, says the recent celebrations surrounding the introduction of the first few of eight 13,800 TEU ships by CMA-CGM will not necessarily be shared by the line’s customers.
"I know big ships have economies of scale and ship owners reap big cost savings from them; but rather like slow steaming, I suspect many shippers doubt that they will ever see any of the apparent savings themselves."
Dr Traill points out that very few ports are able to handle ships of this size, making transhipment onto smaller vessels or longer overland road and rail journeys inevitable. This adds time, cost and potential security and damage issues.
"Large hub ports will often be hundreds of miles away from the cargo’s origin or destination. Think back to that time you flew with one of those low-cost airlines only to find yourself at an airport barely in the same country as your holiday, and you can imagine just how annoying this can be."
Dr Traill admits that there are good and efficient feeder services or rail connections but transhipment inevitably adds time, which is also a cost to shippers.
"So, while the lines boast of their amazing savings they can make with their big new shiny ships, spare a thought for everyone else that has had to fork-out more cash as a consequence."
He challenges the shipping lines to explain exactly how the shippers will benefit from larger ships.