Designs for 22,000teu vessels are on the drawing board so terminals must be ready to handle them, according to senior port industry executive, Halfdan Ross.
The Managing Director of APM Terminals Crane & Engineering Services was speaking at the TOC Container Supply Chain Asia Conference in Hong Kong, where delegates discussed the challenges posed by next-generation ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs).
“While none have been ordered yet, studies have been completed on the feasibility of constructing containerships with a 22,000teu capacity,” said Ross.
“So planning for infrastructure support to accommodate such vessels is a very necessary exercise for any major hub port.”
He said that as at 1 February, there were 153 containerships on order with capacities in excess of 10,000teu – including 20 of the 18,000teu Triple E Class vessels ordered by Maersk Line, the first of which is expected for delivery next year. There are currently 121 vessels of 10,000teu capacity and above in service.
Ross added that more powerful cranes would be needed.
“There are issues of structural stiffness, weight, visibility and wind load which all must be taken into account with cranes of such dimensions, along with the question of upgrading existing equipment or installing new cranes,” he explained.
Improved engineering, camera-assisted and remote control crane operations were some of the solutions available, he said, although increased power requirements may also pose obstacles, particularly in emerging market areas where there were power generation or supply issues.
Ross told delegates: “The point is that ultra-large vessels are already in service, and even larger ships will follow. So the time to prepare the necessary terminal and quay infrastructure is now.”