Giant Headaches

Last week, “” began a report with this headline: “2010: Year of the megaship as new deliveries break record”, and the author of the report proceeded to feed us the usual baloney.

“The number of containerships above 7,500 TEU delivered this year reached 61 units”, he began, “a total not seen since 2006, yet surpassing that year in tonnage delivery as 29 of those ships in 2010 were 10,000 TEU or more while only two were in 2006.

“China Shipping Container Line (CSCL) will receive the first 14,000 TEU ship, with six units planned for delivery in 2011 starting from January and two more units due in 2012. CSCL could launch a new Europe string before the end of the year, potentially with another partner, reported Paris-based Alphaliner …” –

In an earlier commentary we wrote: “The Asians call 2010 ‘The Year of the Sea Giants’, because so many of the container ships delivered in 2010 were 10,000-TEUers or more. Remember this, though,” we reminded you, “Those vessels were ordered as far back as 2006 when the ‘corporate fanning of feathers’ held sway.”-

So there you have it. Back in 2006 everything was rosy. Carriers proceeded to order like there was no tomorrow. When one guy placed orders for 7,500-TEU vessels, his opposite number in a competing shipping line would upstage him by ordering 8,000-TEU ships.

And the boss man of yet another shipping line would raise the bar and order 8,500-TEU vessels. And so it went.

But there was a tomorrow. In fact, the handwriting was already on the wall back in 2006, but the only thing on the walls of those CEOs were mirrors – for feather-admiring, of course. They didn’t care too much about research, or history, or anything like that. That was for their underlings.

Too bad. A slew of articles had been written over the years about the Jahre Viking, the Seawise Giant, the Happy Giant and the Knock Nevis, and if those boss men had done their homework they’d have known that those were the names of not four different vessels, but just one single ship. It was the largest cargo ship ever built. It displaced 564,763 tons and was more than 1,500 feet long. It was never delivered to its original owner, however, because the man discovered that maybe “bigger” isn’t “better” after all, and after changing hands repeatedly, and finding a niche as a floating storage site off Qatar, Knock Nevis was finally sold for scrap. But service underway? Nope. It was too big.

CSCL has stated that it plans to launch “a new Europe string … potentially with another partner …” – which goes to prove that there isn’t enough product to fill a mega ship. Vessel Sharing, therefore, is one of two options available to carriers because of this lack of foresight. And the other option?

Most of the new “giants” will soon be joining Knock Nevis in the Bangladesh scrap yards.