Upon further review …

At Port Industry Day in June of 2000, Conrad Everhard, who was serving as Moderator, began warning us of the downside aspects of megaships. He reminded those in attendance that massive and costly dredging projects will be required in order to accommodate these giant vessels, and that those projects would require public funding. This public funding would amount to nothing less than an outright subsidy for those shipowners building and operating those vessels, he said, and he accurately predicted the increase in traffic tie-ups and the increased pollution generated by that traffic.

About a year later, at a Washington briefing sponsored by the AAPA, James Hartung cautioned that dredging deep-water ports to be used as “king-ports” by these megaships, in a hub-and-spoke system of operation, would “… decrease the efficiency of the marine transportation system and skew the economic benefits”. We never pay any attention at all to these local fellows, though. The real maritime authorities are the international spokesmen whose occasional pronouncements provide all the logistical guidance and advice we could ever need. They know their stuff.

Indeed they do. Just this week, in a FINANCIAL TIMES article summarized by an Asian reporting service and forwarded to us by e-mail, here’s what’s being said:

“Future Need of Mega Container Ships Questioned.

“Doubts have been raised about the future need for so-called mega container ships, capable of carrying more than 8,000 TEU.

“The doubts come at a time when industry insiders expect vessel capacity to increase faster than cargo volumes, the FINANCIAL TIMES reported.

“While giant container ships, which came into service in 2004, are expected to ‘revolutionize container trade between Asia and the US and Europe’, some shipping executives and analysts have questioned the apparent economies of scale offered by such vessels.

“The introduction of these large container ships will require shipping lines to reorganise their services to reflect the longer times these vessels will have to spend in port, the report stated.

“To maintain current schedules, such vessels will have to sail faster to make up for the extra time in port. To achieve this, ‘even with modern, fuel-efficient engines, this is likely to mean extra spending on fuel’.

“The article added that ultimately savings will depend on vessels operating with capacity loads.”

[Even though we ignored the words of Mr. Eberhard and Mr. Hartung, it appears as though the overseas authorities were listening very closely.]