Thin is ‘In’!

We just heard that someone in the PA/NJ dredging debate was quoted as saying that a container terminal could never be built in the Delaware River region because container ships required dredging. Period. No dredging, no container ships. No container ships, no terminal. Period.

When Will Rogers heard an ill-informed comment like this, he would repeat it in a matter-of-fact way, and quickly add, “I only know what I read in the newspapers.” Nowadays, however, we say, “Don’t confuse me with facts”. It’s too bad that opinionated authorities like the one mentioned above wouldn’t look beyond the headlines. The astonishing size of today’s PostPanamax container ships has captured the attention of many people not just in this country but around the entire world. After all, bigger is better, as most everyone who reads the newspapers knows. But is it?

Consider the many problems facing those carriers who’ve purchased these giant boxships. We’ve listed some of the more serious ones in our Vol. XI, Art. 4 commentary (Too Big For Their Bridges), so we won’t repeat them here, but we will point out something that isn’t making headlines. Carriers are going back to the drawing board and ordering smaller and mid-sized vessels in greater numbers.

1. On December 4th, 2006, it was announced that Horizon Lines, Inc. had taken delivery of its first new container ship, the Horizon Hunter from the Hyundai Mipo Shipyard in South Korea. The Horizon Hunter is the first of five new, U.S.-flag, foreign-built, sister vessels being chartered under definitive long-term charter agreements. The ships have a capacity of 2,824 TEUs, and will be deployed between the U.S. West Coast with Guam and Asia.

2. On March 29th of this year it was announced that Hamburg’s Claus Peter Offen had ordered six 4,300 TEU vessels from Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea.,

3. On April 9th it was announced that Hamburg Sud will name the third in a series of six 3,752-TEU container ships ordered from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. at its Okpo shipyard in Korea. The vessel will be used in Hamburg Sud’s service between Asia, South Africa and the East Coast of South America, it was announced.

4. On April 12th it was announced that Seaspan Corporation has signed contracts to build four vessels, each with a capacity of 4,250 TEUs, at China’s Jiangsu New Yangzi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. The four vessels are in addition to the ten 2,500 TEU vessels Seaspan had already ordered from Jiangsu Yangzijiang.

5. On April 20th it was announced that Hanjin Shipping will charter five new 3,400 TEU container vessels to Danaos Shipping Co. The vessels will be built by Hanjin Heavy Industries and are expected to be deployed on Mediterranean and South American routes.

So will we see container terminals on the Delaware? Absolutely. Will dredging be required? Absolutely not. Will behemoths service these terminals? Absolutely not. [Take it to the bank.]