Supersized ships are creating a cargo crisis

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Mammoth container vessels dominate shipping lanes around the world. But is bigger always better? More capacity might mean cheaper prices for customers but as Eve Johnosn reports, for shipping companies it’s bad news for the bottom line.

Supersized ships are creating a cargo crisis

In the global shipping industry – bigger isn’t always better.

At more than 1300 feet – the Majestic Maersk is longer than an aircraft carrier –

and just five years ago was the joint-largest container ship on earth.

But today, it’s not even in the top ten.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRENDA GOH, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING:

“These mega-ships have been a double-edged sword. On one hand, they represent some of the best technology the industry has to offer. But on the other hand they have created a problem for both ports and shipping lines alike. Some ports around the world are too small to accommodate them, and now must invest in expensive expansions. Also the industry is facing a problem of overcapacity – part of which has been blamed for the recent collapse of South Korean shipping line Hanjin Shipping.”

Today there are 45 vessels as big as the Majestic…

and dozens more being built.

But analysts say the world doesn’t need more mega-ships right now –

It already has more containers than cargo companies can fill

For shippers, that’s bad news for the bottom line…

But it doesn’t mean they’re changing their strategy.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRENDA GOH, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING:

“The big question is – will these companies stop building? But the consensus out there seems to be probably not, because these big ships are the pride of every shipping company. It represents the best technology, it represents the ability to finance such ships.”

That’s echoed by the Captain Dick Danielsen…

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CAPTAIN OF THE GIANT VESSEL MAJESTIC MAERSK, DICK S. DANIELSEN, SAYING:

“If you’re going to be a captain and the company asks you, do you want to be on our biggest ship in the fleet, everybody would be proud. If they don’t admit it then I think they’re lying.”

Danielsen hopes he’ll be getting behind the wheel of an even bigger ship before he retires.

Tags : crisis, Cargo, Creating, ships, Supersized

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