A ship that can carry 39,000 cars...how large can they grow?
In November of 2014 the China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) Globe became the largest container ship in the world. With a length of 1,312 feet and a displacement of 184,605 Deadweight Tonnage (DWT) it is capable of carrying 19,100 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit). A mere 53 days after the CSCL Globe was launched it was surpassed in size by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Oscar.
The MSC Oscar which was launched in January of 2015 is 1,297 feet long (slightly shorter than the Globe) but displaces a massive 197,363 DWT and is capable of carrying 19,224 TEUs. This is the cargo equivalent of carrying 39,000 cars, 117 million pairs of sneakers or 900 million cans of dog food. The Oscar and its future sister ships of class would remain the largest in the world until at least 2017 when Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) of Japan will be launching a new class of vessels capable of transporting 20,150-TEUs.
The continuing growth in container ship sizes has come about because of the need to efficiently move the huge volume of goods that power trade between the Far East/Asia and the Western world. Indeed within the past thirty years container ships have moved from having a maximum capacity of around 5,000 TEUs to the present day capacity of the leviathans than cruise the ocean.
It is not expected that these behemoths will travel to the USA or Caribbean in the foreseeable future given the lack of infrastructure both in the water (turning basins, deep water channels and berths etc) and on land (cranes) to accommodate their large sizes within the region. Furthermore the size of those ships would preclude them from ever using the Panama Canal even after its expansion. Their expected routes would likely remain Chinese port cities such as Qingdao, Shanghai and Dalian and European port cities such as Rotterdam, Algeciras and Felixstowe.
The lack of those giants of the seas does not mean that the Caribbean Basin and Trinidad and Tobago would not still be well served by oceanic transport. Indeed, the Panama Canal expansion will allow for ships of sizes capable of carrying 12-13,000 TEUs (New Panamax) to traverse its length and enter the region from the Far East/Asia. This is a significant increase on the current Panamax size of ships of around 5,000 TEUs capacity.
Trinidad and Tobago, as an international energy player does see the presence of very large ships in our waters. In the second week of March 2015 apart from all the other vessels in port in the country there were the Eagle San Diego tanker (157,900 DWT) and the Hubert Fedry cargo vessel (180,643 DWT) also in Trinidad. Furthermore ships such as the Eva N Ore carrier at 218,293 DWT and the Al Gharrafa LNG carrier at 107,000 DWT also use the waters of Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidad and Tobago has a unique characteristic to shipping and connectivity which does not avail elsewhere within the region. The country is served by two international container ports as well as several other specialized ports and harbours located around the country. The containers ports within the country are ¬
1. The Port of Point Lisas (Plipdeco) which has six berths and the capability to handle ships of a maximum ship size of 656 feet (200m) and draught of 38 feet (11.59m). Aside from containers the Port of Point Lisas handles dry and liquid bulks, general cargo and breakbulk servicing. Plipdeco is visited by ships from CMA-CGM, Conti Lines, Crowley, European Caribbean Lines, Hamburg Sud, Hapag Lloyd, Maersk, Oldendorff, SeaBoard Marine, TBS Pacific Liner, Tropical, Zim and Spliethoff amongst others.
2. The Port of Port of Spain (PPOS) which has 8 berths capable of docking ships with a maximum LOA of 965 feet (294 metres) and a maximum draught of 38 feet (11.5metres). PPOS handles containers, breakbulk servicing, Ro-Ro car carriers, LCL and dry and liquid bulk cargoes. Port of Port of Spain is visited by ships from CMA CGM; MSC; CSAV; Hapag-Lloyd; Zim; Hamburg Sud; China Shipping; King Ocean and Marfret amongst others.
Apart from the two container ports, Trinidad and Tobago has an LNG Terminal on its southwest peninsula at the Atlantic LNG facility, a dedicated port serving its 175,000 bbl/day refinery at Point a Pierre and an offshore floating transhipment facility in the Gulf of Paria being operated by Oldendorff Carriers.
While the development of the Trinidad and Tobago marine industry to accommodate very large container ships such as the EEE Class from Maersk as well as the Oscar and Globe sized ships is far from imminent, Trinidad and Tobago still remains an attractively positioned location for maritime logistical connectivity with the presence of numerous ports and harbours as well as facilities to handle very large bulk carriers thus allowing international trade to flourish.