EXPERTS expect more wide-beam 14,000- to 15,000-TEU (Twenty foot equivalent) ships with 21-deck rows and 53.5 metre beams.
According to Alphaliner, the wider-beam ships are coming given the popularity of wide-beamed 8,500 – 10,000-TEUers.
How carriers propose to fill these ships remains unanswered. Yet newbuilding orders still roll in.
Freight rates are at historic lows as carriers almost pay shippers to take their freight, so where are the much-touted efficiencies of scale these giants boast of?
Perhaps, not until there is a temporary hiatus on newbuilding ordering among the top 20 ocean liners, to pull back from the lemming-like abyss.
According to Alphaliner, such ships would offer a draft advantage of 50 centimetres when compared to the current 14,000-TEU vessel designs with 20-container, deck rows.
A further advantage of the 21-row vessels is that they offer flexibility in drawing up cargo plans and raise the prospect of stowing higher deck loads of laden containers.
Then again, the new 14,000+ TEU wide-beam units would be too bulky to transit the expanded Panama Canal after it opens in 2016, being forced instead to take a longer, slower and more fuel-consuming Suez route.
A first order for wide-beam containerships with 21-deck rows was placed by Maersk, which ordered nine such vessels from Hyundai Heavy Industries, including options for up to eight sister ships.