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June 06, 2017

Larger container ships in Asia-US West Coast trade nearly doubled in 2017

Market analyst Drewry reports that the number of containerships of 13,000 teu or above deployed on the Asia-US West Coast trade has nearly doubled since the start of 2017.

The recent influx of >13,000 teu ships into the Asia-WCNA trade coincides with the April 1 alliance restructuring that reduced the number of weekly services in the lane by one to 37. As more cargo is squeezed onto fewer weekly services terminals have to prepare for much greater peaks in container activity.

According to Drewry this problem is exacerbated on the USWC as ships often only call at a couple of ports, unlike in Europe, meaning those US ports have to handle a higher ratio of boxes per ship call.

Having a big import bias, as Los Angeles-Long Beach does - there were 2.4 times more loaded imports than loaded exports in 2016 - adds to the complexity as import moves require more exchanges between various equipment types, requiring more time, and more container terminal choreography than loading export containers.

A swifter rise in exports of late will have helped smooth operations somewhat, but imports remain dominant. After four months of 2017 total port handling at Los Angeles-Long Beach has thrived, growing by 8% to 5.1 million teu (see Figure 3). Loaded exports (1.14m teu) increased by 9%, while loaded imports (2.54m teu) were up by 6%, and empties (1.41m teu) rose by 10%.

Source: Drewry Container Insight Weekly