It was only a matter of time before Maersk EEE would lose its crown as “the biggest” container ship. Orders by China Shipping Container Lines and United Arab Shipping Co in the past couple of months have added at least an extra 400 teu over the Maersk record breakers.
The race to build megaships is making ports follow suit. Mega-cranes and mega-yards are sure to follow. Is this race to “mega” sizes really justified by economic developments and trade trends? It is an important question, because supersizing vessels and ports requires tremendous amounts of money and given the length of time to construct each one it’s a very high bet on a distant future.
The case of both the lines and the ports hinges on the fact that not all of their competitors will be able to sustain that level of investment, thus providing them with the long term competitive advantage. But their real bet is that the historical cycles of trade will be consistently repeated into the future. In that “post-great depression” scenario, the recovery would favour nations connected by the established East-West trade links and support the trend to mega-sizing the ships and ports.