Too Big to Fail Will Sail
June 28, 2013 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Today, Danish shipping line Maersk took delivery of the new World's Largest Ship from Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The M/V Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, a 165,000 metric ton container vessel, that is too big (particularly with her 48 foot loaded draft) to call on most North American ports, employs novel design and operating strategies to radically lower shipping costs. First in the new "Triple E" class of 20 similar ships on order by Maersk, the Mc-Kinney Møller will initially support container trade between Asian and European markets.
"The M/V Maersk’s principal achievements lie in benefits invisible to all but accountants, naval architects and environmental experts, but the cumulative results are outstanding. Triple-E vessels will travel 184 kilometres using 1 kWh of energy per ton of cargo, whereas a jumbo jet travels half a kilometre using the same amount of energy per ton.

The savings are the result of a unique hull design, an energy-efficient engine, a waste heat recovery system, which uses exhaust gas to produce extra energy to help propel the ship, and a vast economy of scale. Combined, these factors denote that the Triple-E will emit 20 percent less CO2 (per container moved) compared to the Emma Maersk and 50% less than the industry average on the Asia-Europe trade lane."
The big ship will also, by design and intent in an era of expensive fuel and likely European regulatory caps on CO2 emissions for ships, be a slightly slower ship than previous bulk container carriers, with a top speed of just 23 knots, and a usual cruising speed of 21 knots.
posted by paulsc (67 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I still don't really understand why these ships aren't using some sort of nuclear propulsion.

I mean I get the realities of securing such systems, but it would seem to be the most rational and cost effective propulsion system for large ships as evidenced by the US militaries extensive use of the technology.
posted by sourbrew at 7:06 PM on June 28, 2013


Nuclear-powered ships are hideously expensive. In general, the fact that the US military uses a technology is very poor evidence to prove something is cost effective.
posted by ssg at 7:13 PM on June 28, 2013 [21 favorites]


Previously.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:16 PM on June 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nuke power is expensive.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:19 PM on June 28, 2013


Gasoline, by way of illustration, has a kWh equivalence of about 33 per gallon.

So if you consider that a car and passengers weigh about 2 tons, a Prius starts looking like a gas guzzler at 50MPG = 80km per gallon = 160km per gallon per ton = 160km per 33kWh per ton = 4.8km per kWh per ton.

Going the other way, if your Prius at 2 tons could get the same fuel efficiency as this tanker, you'd be looking at an EPA sticker of 184 km per kWh per ton = 92km per kWh (for 2 ton vehicle and passengers) = 92km per 0.03 gal = 3036km per gal = 1900MPG.

And that's how we are able have Dollar stores in North America where 90% of the product is made on the other side of the planet.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:22 PM on June 28, 2013 [52 favorites]


Post-Panamax container ship breaks in two.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:22 PM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


From Wikipedia: Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller was the son of a Danish father, Arnold Peter Møller – founder of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group – and an American mother, Chastine Estelle Roberta McKinney.

No word on just what exactly the deal is with that weird hyphen in Mc-Kinney. Is that a Danish thing, or just a personal affectation?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:23 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


a Prius starts looking like a gas guzzler at 50MPG

This is why we need nuclear powered cars.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:27 PM on June 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's much worse for the Prius / better for the container ship in your comparison, seanmpuckett. The fuel cost for the container ship is per ton of cargo, not including the ship itself. For the Prius, you are more likely to have about 1/10th of a tonne on board.
posted by ssg at 7:28 PM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Honestly i always assumed the military used them solely because of the fact that they can

A. Go 20 years without refueling. If some sort of massive world conflict or disaster happened, they could be out and in service basically indefinitely without any concerns of needing fuel for the ship, or possibly even water if they have shipboard desalination plants. They'd basically only need food for the crew and other supplies.

B. Generate large amounts of electricity to power on shore installations if needed

I could probably bullshit up a few more, but none of them have anything to do with cost.

I'd bet they did the math and over the service life of this ship it was probably cheaper to use combustion-based power. Maybe nuclear would have been slightly better, but is there even a regulatory structure in place to allow civilian nuclear ships? How much money and lobbying would it cost to make them legal? What's to stop america or other countries from banning them in their ports? etc etc etc.

Can you imagine the stupid ass shitstorm that would rile up among ignorant PETA-type "activists" in an RE:RE:RE:FWD OMG WE NEED TO STOP THIS way?
posted by emptythought at 7:35 PM on June 28, 2013


In recent years, the Congress has shown interest in powering some of the Navy’s future destroyers and amphibious warfare ships with nuclear rather than conventional petroleumbased) fuel. At the request of the former Chairman of the Subcommittee on seapower and Projection Forces of the House Committee on Armed Services, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated the difference in life-cycle costs [PDF] (the total costs incurred for a ship, from acquisition through operations to disposal) between powering those new surface ships with nuclear reactors and equipping them with conventional engines.
The verdict? All in for the 56 new surface ships (other than Carriers) planned by the Navy:

Conventional propulsion: $128.5 Billion
Nuclear propulsion: $156.9 Billion

There's a bunch of assumptions explained in the PDF (life cycle fuel costs, disposal, rising oil costs, changing borrowing costs, etc).

It has to pencil even worse for civilian cargo. Plus, insurance may not be available. Cripes. Imagine if one of these leaked into the LB/LA Harbor?

Nice to see the Euros clamping down on carbon emissions in trade this way.
posted by notyou at 7:36 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you think this is cool you should look up the Shell Prelude floating natural gas extraction/liquefaction ship. It is more than THREE TIMES as big and deserves its own FPP.
posted by miyabo at 8:05 PM on June 28, 2013


Whenever I think about Maersk I think about Spook Country.
posted by limeonaire at 8:24 PM on June 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Shell Prelude floating natural gas extraction/liquefaction ship.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:13 PM on June 28, 2013


"... It is more than THREE TIMES as big and deserves its own FPP."
posted by miyabo at 11:05 PM on June 28

As far as I'm concerned, Big is generally Cool, because BIG!!! I hope somebody does do an FPP about that Shell monster, and in the meantime, thanks to KokoRyu for that link. But unlike special purpose vessels like the Shell ship, which basically never needs to dock at normal ports, is that cargo movers are highly dependent on shore and land infrastructure to support their operations. And the people in countries behind those port facilities only benefit from lower shipping costs if the big, efficient ships can come into their ports and do business easily and effectively.

Thus, what I find most interesting about the Triple E class, and other big, but general purpose, cargo ships now on the drawing boards, is two-fold. First, what they are doing to re-define the economics of world trade. Second, what the costs and pressures such behemoths will put on ports and other shipping infrastructure around the world will mean to empty pocket governments, economies needing jobs, and environmentalists.

Here in Jacksonville, FL, JaxPort (our local port authority) has been studying the costs of deepening our St. Johns River channel to accommodate such ships, and scratching heads about how it might cover the estimated $383 million chunk that would be the responsibility of local sources, after U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expenditures of $349 million. And still, that study only covers deepening our port and channel to 47 feet, rather than the 50 feet originally considered, due to environmental and cost issues rising from the need to blast bedrock for miles of the river bed, to achieve such deepening.

In a similar situation, Philadelphia recently began efforts to deepen its channel to 45 feet, by just dredging operations. But, at 45 feet, Philadelphia will still be unable to dock fully loaded Triple E class ships, as will Houston, Mobile, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston, and many other East Coast ports looking for Federal and private sector bond dollars to deepen local ports, as much as seems environmentally and economically feasible.

And even if ports, major canals, and ship channels are artificially widened and deepened, you have to look at near shore ocean conditions when considering how practical handling such big vessels will really be. Off our own Northeast Florida coast, and up into Georgia waters, the ocean shelf slopes gently out to sea for miles, such that more than 20 miles out, the depths are only 60 to 70 feet. That's not a lot of water under the keel of a fully loaded Triple E, and local structures and natural bottom features, which have heretofore been of little consequence even for U.S. aircraft carriers, will be navigation hazards for such big vessels.
posted by paulsc at 9:15 PM on June 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


Combined, these factors denote that the Triple-E will emit 20 percent less CO2 (per container moved) compared to the Emma Maersk and 50% less than the industry average on the Asia-Europe trade lane.

Supply chain associations have been talking about the carbon footprint for years now, after the EU regulations started taking a closer look at the entire lifecycle impact of products. That is, not simply the product itself, but also its raw material, manufacturing and so, its transportation. This seems to be one of the outcomes of those initiatives.

I wonder which are the 13 ports in the Northern Europe - Asia line this monster can visit?
posted by infini at 10:16 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the Maersk EE wikipedia page the ports that can be visited include:

Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Yantian, Hong Kong, Tanjung Pelepas, Singapore in Asia, and Rotterdam, Gothenburg, Bremerhaven, Felixstowe and Gdańsk in Europe.
posted by sien at 10:48 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


No word on just what exactly the deal is with that weird hyphen in Mc-Kinney. Is that a Danish thing, or just a personal affectation?

Couldn't find anything talking about this, but a little googling indicates the most common treatment of Scottish names in Denmark is with a space, e.g. "Mc Donald". There are some Danish surnames with hyphenated suffixes, which may be an influence. Otherwise, this appears to be a personal preference. Danes?

I'm more curious about how the dad came to be married to this American woman from Roaring Springs, Ky. -- there's precious little about her out there, not even a charming "met on a trans-Atlantic liner" kind of backstory. Anyway, I gravitate toward fish-out-of-water genealogies
plus, I was mugged by a guy with that last name.
posted by dhartung at 11:06 PM on June 28, 2013


No word on just what exactly the deal is with that weird hyphen in Mc-Kinney. Is that a Danish thing, or just a personal affectation?

It's named after a person whose name is also spelled with the 'weird' hyphen. It's a Danish thing (though not a thing that's consistent with all Danishified Scottish names).
posted by Dysk at 12:31 AM on June 29, 2013


While her enormous DWT is interesting, she is only half as "big" as most major commodity vessels (Suezmax/VLCC for tankers, Capesize and the so-called Valemaxes for bulk). She could actually put into many more ports than those listed, but the ports listed are the ones with container facilities that can also handle her draft.

Her most important stat, as a boxship, is her TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent) capacity which is a whopping 18,270. Now, nearly all of those will be 40"s, not 20"s and she has 600 reefer plugs as well (a further death knell for dedicated reefer vessels...)

And she was not expressly designed with slow steaming in mind; rather, slow steaming is the new norm and has been since 2008-9 when bunker prices went through the roof.

The bigger question within the industry in terms of emissions is which refineries are actually going to produce ultra low sulfur residuals to meet the new NOx and SOx standards. That remains entirely unclear at this point.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:35 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(The hyphen in Mc- names is effectively a pronunciation aid - without it, it would probably be parsed as Mm-kinney by most, especially in a pre-globalised world).
posted by Dysk at 2:46 AM on June 29, 2013


Nuclear-powered ships are hideously expensive. In general, the fact that the US military uses a technology is very poor evidence to prove something is cost effective.
How expensive is it? How much would it cost compared to powering these ships with 100% biofuel in a post fossil fuel world?

The problem with nuclear power is that the real cost tends to be all the safety equipment. If you didn't care at all about safety you could probably build a reactor pretty cheaply. I would imagine needing to be on a ship makes it a lot more expensive then something where you can increase safety by just piling on an enormous amount of steal and concrete.
A. Go 20 years without refueling. If some sort of massive world conflict or disaster happened, they could be out and in service basically indefinitely without any concerns of needing fuel for the ship, or possibly even water if they have shipboard desalination plants. They'd basically only need food for the crew and other supplies.
Are these container ships actually expected to last 20 years? I would bet they're build with as little material as possible, and at an optimal point on the cost/life/time-value of money curve. (i.e. do you buy a beater car for $1000 that will last one year, $10k for a car that will last 5 years (twice the cost per year) or a new $20k car that will last 25 years (80% cost per year) - it depends on how much you have to invest and whether you could more effectively invest the money elsewhere)

The military, obviously, uses a lot more material to build it's ships and as a result they probably last a long time.
posted by delmoi at 3:10 AM on June 29, 2013


Slow steaming - the full story (PDF)
posted by infini at 3:18 AM on June 29, 2013


Another reason this ship is not nuclear is that Denmark decided back in the 70s not to do nuclear. There was a big national debate and it decided no to nukes, one of the things this led to was the classic three bladed wind turbine.
posted by biffa at 5:49 AM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are these container ships actually expected to last 20 years? I would bet they're build with as little material as possible, and at an optimal point on the cost/life/time-value of money curve. (i.e. do you buy a beater car for $1000 that will last one year, $10k for a car that will last 5 years (twice the cost per year) or a new $20k car that will last 25 years (80% cost per year) - it depends on how much you have to invest and whether you could more effectively invest the money elsewhere)

The container ships have a completely different purpose. The reason nuclear is needed for aircraft carriers and subs is that the warship seeks no port--its job is to sail around waiting for an order to engage an enemy. That's a lot more sailing. Ships must come to it for replenishment. The cargo ship is trying to get somewhere and is always headed towards its next fuel-up. A warship is not.

Also, these companies are bleeding money. The ships are ultra-efficient in order to save money.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:36 AM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The reason nuclear is needed for aircraft carriers and subs is that the warship seeks no port

As I understand it, the reason US subs are nuclear is just so that they don't have to surface periodically, and the reason aircraft carriers are nuclear is that the catapults need such whopping huge amounts of steam that nuke is more practical than oil (though obviously oil can be done; see Forrestal and Kitty Hawk).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:13 AM on June 29, 2013


I'm sure American shipping capacity, naval prestige and nuclear power deserves its very own FPP.
posted by infini at 7:15 AM on June 29, 2013


Since we've got some shipping experts here, this is apparently my opportunity to ask: What's the forecast for the return of sailing ships, or at least sail-assisted ships, to move cargo? That would seem to be the way to reduce fuel expenses.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:26 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm wrong, but I always assumed that Naval ships used nuclear because that means they don't have to carry all that fuel oil around. And so they don't run out of gas. Nuclear is the most efficient fuel for them, but their measures of efficiency aren't just in dollars.

Container ships aren't nuclear because the giant diesel engines they run can burn the worst, cheapest fuel, AND do it super efficiently. As of the last time I checked, the most efficient internal combustion engine in the world was on one of the Maersk ships.
posted by gjc at 7:27 AM on June 29, 2013


Suddenly New Orleans doesn't seem like such a stupid place to build a city. Bienville was right all along.
posted by localroger at 7:40 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are these container ships actually expected to last 20 years?

Apparently, the expected lifespan of a container ship is about 26 years.

Maersk doesn't have dates on their website, but the Thuro Maersk is from 1991 and looks to be their oldest container ship. The Horizon Consumer from 1973 is apparently on its way to China at the moment. The few minutes I spent googling (it took me an embarrassingly long time to realise the right search terms to get the 26 year number) suggest that Horizon has a number of exceptionally old container ships. The Horizon Challenger is from 1968, but the last location data was 6 months old, so maybe it was taken out of service.
posted by hoyland at 7:44 AM on June 29, 2013


Nuclear-powered commercial ships were tried and tried and tried and tried.

TL;DR they didn't work out very well.
posted by localroger at 7:45 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suddenly New Orleans doesn't seem like such a stupid place to build a city.

But has the bulk of the extended shipping industry returned? After Katrina, we know many ship's chandlers moved out their operations, others closed down due to significant losses in both goods and new business. My dad's business does some amount of specialized ship's chandlery out of Singapore and iirc we had tens of thousands of dollars worth of trade irreplaceably lost overnight when our business partners in NOLA simply could not trace, find or pay for pre-existing orders.
posted by infini at 7:49 AM on June 29, 2013


I've seen a lot of factories and mines. My tour of the DSME yard was probably the coolest.

They took me inside of an underconstruction LNG carrier. In the space where the gas is held after the insulation was in but before the membrane. It was basically a pitch black ten story cube.
posted by JPD at 8:01 AM on June 29, 2013


infini, the port of NOLA has been neglected. But if these superships become a thing, it's the only port in North America that doesn't have to be deepened at vast expense to handle them.
posted by localroger at 8:04 AM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Out in the distance, I can see the twinkling lights of the container ships, all lined up in a row, waiting their turn into harbour, right now, from my window, I'd say... start digging.
posted by infini at 8:16 AM on June 29, 2013


start digging

Well, in NOLA we don't have to dig, but we need to build some more cranes and docks and land support infrastructure. Most of that investment has gone to ports that have easier ocean access like Houston. But NOLA can handle one of these monster ships right now, or with at most very minimal infrastructure extensions, and as the monster ships become more common we have time to shift some of that port investment back to NOLA where the river depth naturally accommodates them.
posted by localroger at 8:22 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


localroger, don't know how accurate this is but found this on the Port of Virginia's homepage... "At 50-feet, we offer the deepest shipping channels on the U.S. East Coast; fully prepared to accommodate the 10,000+ TEU vessels."
posted by one4themoment at 8:27 AM on June 29, 2013


Do these new ones require more than 50 I guess is my question... because I thought I read 48
posted by one4themoment at 8:28 AM on June 29, 2013


If you ask google "what is the biggest oil tanker?" they return a page list of longest ships. All of the top entries list their current status as "broken up". It's like they kept building them bigger until finally they were too big to make more money sailing than as scrap. An economics metaphor? Keep building bigger and better and more expensive until the market forces stop you. See also: the empty big houses in Riverside County.
posted by bukvich at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2013


one4 I think Virginia has to dredge to keep that depth, but yeah they seem to be ready for the trade. NOLA could probably expand a lot more quickly if the big ships become common enough to justify it. And 48-50 feet does seem to be the new standard they're aiming at.

While Napoleon Avenue only rates itself for 45 / 43 foot, going deeper is very easy since the riverbank is dropping off toward a natural central depth of 150 feet+.
posted by localroger at 8:32 AM on June 29, 2013


where the river depth naturally accommodates them.

Right up until the Atchafalaya takes over.
Also, nuclear power is good for icebreakers.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:34 AM on June 29, 2013


How expensive is it?

About $1B for an aircraft carrier, according to this (not vouching for the accuracy of this). A container ship needs a lot less power, but still, the cost would far exceed the construction cost of the entire ship ($200M).
posted by ssg at 8:45 AM on June 29, 2013


localroger, please accept my sincere apology for facetiousness, to which you graciously responded.
posted by infini at 8:48 AM on June 29, 2013


emptythought: "Can you imagine the stupid ass shitstorm that would rile up among ignorant PETA-type "activists" in an RE:RE:RE:FWD OMG WE NEED TO STOP THIS way?"

Great gratuitous activism hate there. Because what? Everybody with a brain can see that nuclear is a safe technology and anybody who disagrees hates science? Because casual dismissal makes a person sound edgy? Apparently Fukushima is forgettable? The case there is that the most experienced nuclear country in the world still committed a truckload of human error and much of the nuclear disaster could have been prevented if the engineers in charge ever drilled on common meltdown scenarios in order to know intuitively how their failsafe systems worked. Instead, the smartest minds on the scene often did exactly the opposite of the right thing because they themselves did not understand their own systems -- even crazy simple stuff like how the water pipes were configured or knowing how much steam they should be seeing to confirm that failsafes were working.

That's not to say that the technology behind Fukushima is the same as naval technology, but the attitudes at play are similar. What you see as nutball activist paranoia, I see as the only countering force to nutball casual dismissal. And casual dismissal is exactly the attitude that leads to these man-made disasters.
posted by Skwirl at 8:56 AM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Long Beach is already capable of handling Triple-E traffic, at least in terms of channel depth.
One of the shipping lines with operations at Pier J is Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), which was responsible for another of the more noteworthy occurrences at Long Beach in 2012: the first-ever call at a North American terminal by the MSC Beatrice, the second-largest capacity container ship in the world. The ship, which is more than 1,200 feet long and 167 feet wide, can be loaded with up to about 13,800 TEUs. On the morning of Sept. 30, the ship became the largest-ever container vessel to dock at the Port of Long Beach when it arrived at Pier T.

The MSC Beatrice, which was built in South Korea in 2009, is the latest of the new generation of big container ships to be put into service on U.S.-Asia trade routes. Until this year, the largest container ships serving North America had capacities of about 10,000 TEUs. Ships carrying up to 12,500 TEUs began calling at the Port of Long Beach in early 2012.

The MSC Beatrice's journey into the harbor was aided by the fact that the Port of Long Beach’s main channel is 76 feet deep, the deepest in North America. The Port of Los Angeles, however, mostly finished the deepening of its own main channel in 2012. In September, the LA Harbor Commission approved the final phase of funding – $7.5 million – for the project, which included dredging of the channel and main basins to a 53-foot depth. The full project, which was begun 15 years ago, cost a total of $370 million.
There may be other reasons the Triple-E is not suited to North America besides infrastructure. Big ship, with so many containers must take longer to "cycle" in port (unload, load) than a smaller ship, and that's all cost for the shipper. Short trips are out, then, maybe, for Triple-E class ships?

And looking ahead to zero emission marine propulsion:
Scandlines will operate the ferries on the 18.5km Vogelfluglinie transport corridor linking Puttsgarden on the island of Fehmarn with Rødbyhavn in Denmark.

The zero-emission propulsion system will use excess electricity from wind turbines in northern Germany and Denmark to produce hydrogen for use in onboard fuel cells to power the electrical pod drives.
posted by notyou at 9:10 AM on June 29, 2013


There may be other reasons the Triple-E is not suited to North America besides infrastructure. Big ship, with so many containers must take longer to "cycle" in port (unload, load) than a smaller ship, and that's all cost for the shipper. Short trips are out, then, maybe, for Triple-E class ships?

Some mefites had great comments on this iirc:

The demise of the traditional New York ports — Manhattan and Brooklyn — and the rise of the Jersey-side ports was almost wholly due to containerization, and the inability of the older ports to adapt to it. (There is a great book on the topic, for anyone who is interested.) Everything about a break-bulk port, from the attitude of the unions to the warehouses to the transportation infrastructure, ran contrary to the direction the industry was moving. In a container port, you don't need armies of longshoremen, just a relatively small number of equipment operators; you don't need warehouses, just big, well-organized parking lots to stack containers; and there isn't any advantage to placing them near core downtown areas with their markets, with cheap road and rail transportation it's better to put them in uncongested fringe areas.

You can see the same story in a lot of old port cities, from Los Angeles (overtaken by Long Beach) to London (Felixstowe). The ports which managed to survive the breakbulk to container transition are seemingly exceptions. I'm not even sure whether there would have been any way for the Manhattan waterfront to survive; the same geography that made it an excellent breakbulk port in the era of expensive land transportation and cheap labor probably doomed it in an era of cheap oil, mechanization, mass production, and expensive labor
.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:35 AM on December 18, 2009
posted by infini at 9:51 AM on June 29, 2013


Gah, unfinished comment/edit window closed before I could find that comment. that iirc, LA side ports have troubles with timing of container loading and offloading due to non infrastructural reasons especially unions and strikes. Its a cost few can afford, to have ships this size sit idle.

On the labor side, Lytle, like other West Coast port managers, faces the specter of contract talks next year with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), a 59,000-member union that represents virtually all of West Coast waterfront labor. The contract with West Coast ports expires June 30, 2014 but talks are expected to begin in early spring.

Lytle got a taste of the ILWU's influence late last year when a skilled clerical unit of the union struck at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex for eight days. The picket lines were honored by ILWU dockworkers, paralyzing operations are the Port of Los Angeles and dramatically curtailing business at adjacent Long Beach.

LONG BEACH'S FUTURE
Lytle's departure comes at a critical time for Long Beach. The port is facing increased competition for Asian imports from Vancouver, British Columbia's Port of Prince Rupert, and Mexico's Port of Lázaro Cárdenas on the country's Pacific Coast. Prince Rupert touts itself as the fastest way to deliver goods from Asian producing markets to U.S. consuming points in the Midwest and mid-South. Lázaro Cárdenas is promoting itself as a better alternative to Long Beach for getting Asian goods into the vast Texas market. This is especially true after Kansas City Southern, the exclusive rail provider between Lázaro Cárdenas and the United States, made track improvements that promise shippers and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) equivalent service at lower costs.

Long Beach also faces lingering concerns that the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2015 will divert Asian import traffic from West Coast ports—where goods are railed or trucked inland—to the Canal as part of an all-water route to Eastern ports. Lytle shares the belief held by many that most of the diversion from West to East has already occurred, and any further shift will be incremental, if it happens at all.

Long Beach is in the second year of a multibillion-dollar program to upgrade its facilities. It is spending $1 billion to expand and improve its on-dock rail capabilities. It is nearly two years into a nine-year, $1.2 billion project known as the "Middle Harbor" container terminal, designed to renovate and combine two aging container terminals into one modern facility.

In April 2012, Hong Kong-based ship line Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) signed a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease to be the terminal's sole occupant. It is the largest deal of its kind in seaport history, according to the port. The terminal will also have the most sophisticated IT system ever installed at any port, Lytle said in an interview in March of 2013.

Lytle also leaves behind more than his share of headaches. Issues like cost, congestion, and labor strife are ways of life at the San Pedro ports that shippers and carriers have grown accustomed to. Including last year's clerical workers strike, three labor-related disturbances have plagued Long Beach in less than 11 years.

Another headache appeared Wednesday when the city of Long Beach sued to prevent the city of Los Angeles and BNSF Railway from moving forward on a $500 million rail yard project. The City of Long Beach says the project may jeopardize the health and quality of life of its residents.

posted by infini at 10:03 AM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, how long is this ship? I didn't find that.

"... Waves 10 to 15 m (33-49 ft) high are not uncommon under severe storm conditions; the lengths of such waves are typically between 100 and 200 m (330-660 ft). This length is about the same as the length of some modern ships, and a vessel of this length encounters hazardous sailing conditions, because the ship may become suspended between the crests of two waves and break its back.

"Measurements of wave height taken in the North Atlantic over the past twenty-five years by the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences in England show a long-term continuing increase in wave height. Wave height has increased about 25% since 1960. Maximum wave height was 12 m (39 ft) in 1960 and is predicted to reach 18 m (59 ft) in the 1990s if the trend continues. Variations from year to year and season to season are large and there is no way of knowing whether the trend will continue. Weather-ship data from the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea also show an 11% to 27% increase in wave heights between the early 1960s and 1970s. There is no known reason for this apparent trend in increasing wave height...."

cite
posted by hank at 12:11 PM on June 29, 2013


(yes, that's a prediction about the 1990s, I'm looking for something more up to date)
posted by hank at 12:11 PM on June 29, 2013


Me: where the river depth naturally accommodates them.

The Man of Twists and Turns: Right up until the Atchafalaya takes over.

Should the Corps lose its war with the river at the Old River Control Structure, it will suck for finding potable water but will be great for the port. The old river channel will no longer have much current or carry sediment, and will become a salt water estuary. It will no longer need to be dredged at the mouth of the river where sediment gets dropped as the channel widens and the flow runs into still Gulf water. It would in fact become practical to dredge and place shortcut canals where they aren't practical now because of the river flow and salinity issues.
posted by localroger at 1:20 PM on June 29, 2013


"(yes, that's a prediction about the 1990s, I'm looking for something more up to date)"
posted by hank at 3:11 PM on June 29

Here is a "current" plot of ocean wave heights (no pun intended). The largest waves are consistently in the Screaming Sixties, driven by the vast circumpolar wind flow patterns that effectively isolate Antarctica from the rest of Earth's general weather patterns, and also create the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Besides helping to keep Antarctica cold, the circumpolar wind flows, the circumpolar current, and resulting wave patterns also indirectly drive vast deep ocean processes, like the massive seasonal deep ocean brine fall that develops in the Wendell Sea as it ices over each winter.

But commercial vessels plying major shipping lanes stay far from these waters, and generally only encounter periodic wave sets greater than 25 feet average height as a result of being caught by large, fast moving weather systems. Bad luck if you're caught in a typhoon in the South Pacific, or a bad North Atlantic storm, but better weather forecasting has vastly reduced those risks, in the temperate trade waters most commercial vessels regularly sail.

What are becoming recognized as truly dangerous waves to shipping traffic are so called "rogue waves." Yet since their "proof" in 1995, shipping losses that can be positively tied to rogue wave action remain pretty infrequent, and most cases of large vessel breakup or loss at sea, such as KokoRyu linked above, are attributed to hostile military actions, vessel maintenance, poor seamanship, or other controllable factors.
posted by paulsc at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Plenty of Maersks schedules are based on Hub and spoke using feeder line shipping.
I don´t think they will worry too much about lack of E. Coast US ports when Freeport, Bahamas has 50 ft of depth.
US ports are expensive. They can probably get better rates outside and rely on feeder services especially if they have a participation in those lines as it does in N. Europe.
Nuclear ships as pointed out above will not be accepted by the public who judge the risk too high.
When you look at the high profile accidents which have occured in the cruise ship industry this seems right. There is no 95% safe in the nuclear industry. It is 100% or nothing and the recent Japan disaster proved that 100% safety does not exist.
What will really change global shipping is that as global warming and arctic melt continue , the arctic shipping routes will be used more.
Maersk is researching it's own pollution.
Skysails have been tested by Beluga and windpower is already in design and research.
posted by adamvasco at 2:45 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as we're talking about peaceful use of nuclear power, can't we just dredge out the channels with nukes? You could get that 60 foot depth in one afternoon. I see no possible way this could go wrong.
posted by happyroach at 3:29 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Watch out for icebergs!
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:09 PM on June 29, 2013


But commercial vessels plying major shipping lanes stay far from these waters,

One of the most riveting passages of prose that I have ever read is in Desolation Island, by POB, when the 74-gun Waakzaamheid is swamped by a massive wave in the Roaring Forties.

It's like an entirely different planet down there, a freezing water-world whipped by Jovian winds.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:48 PM on June 29, 2013


A map of world shipping routes.
For those advocating nuclear power check out the > 5000 voyages and ask youself if you lived on the coastlines covered if you would like a potential nuclear accident float by.
KokuRyu; you will notice that some commercial routes intersect with the Jovian winds.
posted by adamvasco at 7:29 AM on June 30, 2013


adamvasco it's amusing to note that according to that list the Port of Plaquemines is the #1 port in the US already. This is 20 miles downriver from NOLA and has basically the same relationship to NOLA that New Jersey does to NYC. Much of their business caters to tankers which have been supersized for a long time, but as their website notes they have hundreds of miles of riverbank available for installing new facilities.
posted by localroger at 8:03 AM on June 30, 2013


"... KokuRyu; you will notice that some commercial routes intersect with the Jovian winds."
posted by adamvasco at 7:29 AM on June 30

Although your comment was not addressed to me, looking at the linked illustration, the color of those Screaming Sixties intersecting routes indicates they were taken essentially only single digit numbers of times. I suspect that some of these, even, were special purpose seasonal Antarctic base resupply vessel sailings, whaler's and fishing vessel tenders, etc. whose data waypoints were smoothed into "routes" by software. They are very much the tiny statistical exception that proves the rule, not shipping lanes routinely sailed by scheduled vessels, as the term "shipping lane" is usually understood.

Those waters are well known to be hazardous enough that vessels sailing them intentionally usually need to be equipped with special equipment like cold water survival suits for each soul on board, as well as lifeboats of proper design. Moreover, commercial vessels intentionally sailing those waters would generally have higher cost insurance, as risk of loss is greater, and losses are less likely to be mitigated by aid from other ships. Even the steels used for hulls of ships like ice breakers and oil rigs intended for operation in very cold seawater environments are specially adapted and tested for crack resistance induced by low temperature (link to English language site of Russian company offering such materials - the Russians have a lot of experience, as does the U.S. Navy, with cold weather operations requirements), which might indicate to you the kinds of risks unconsidered by most layman that mariners going there by plan need to be prepared to handle.
posted by paulsc at 8:35 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even the steels used for hulls of ships like ice breakers and oil rigs intended for operation in very cold seawater environments are specially adapted and tested for crack resistance induced by low temperature (link to English language site of Russian company offering such materials - the Russians have a lot of experience

The Finns build them. Some of the regular ones are berthed around Helsinki*. They're fun to look at. They work to keep basic routes open throughout the year, like the commuter run to Suomenlinna.

Their history is fascinating as its directly linked to the end of WW2 and the Russians, of course. (Which is also why they tend to named variations of "the bear" i suspect)

*I used to live in Katajanokka and I used to work on the campus of the engineering university. You can't escape knowing this stuff, its so ingrained in the Suomi psyche.
posted by infini at 9:06 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one will see this, but for my OCD completeness self...

Since we've got some shipping experts here, this is apparently my opportunity to ask: What's the forecast for the return of sailing ships, or at least sail-assisted ships, to move cargo? That would seem to be the way to reduce fuel expenses.

Zero to none.

Apparently, the expected lifespan of a container ship is about 26 years.

Not boxships this big. Feeder vessels (less than 1,000 TEU or so) past 20 years old (fourth special survey) can survive up to 30 years with competent maintenance.

And to people asking about NOLA, it's still an important bulk terminal because much of the barge traffic carrying USA coal and grain heads out from there.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:57 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one will see this, but for my OCD completeness self...
Sorry to proove you wrong.
Re feeders. Just seen this.
posted by adamvasco at 8:50 AM on July 2, 2013


Getting an error on your link there, adamvasco....
posted by digitalprimate at 11:07 AM on July 2, 2013


Try this one. Last was a google doc.
posted by adamvasco at 11:12 AM on July 2, 2013


Yep, that's a feeder hub (proposed). They will offload from Savannah or Charleston, possibly from the Caribbean side of Colombia.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:17 AM on July 2, 2013


happyroach: "As long as we're talking about peaceful use of nuclear power, can't we just dredge out the channels with nukes? You could get that 60 foot depth in one afternoon. I see no possible way this could go wrong."

You're not the first person to think of that.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:50 AM on July 10, 2013


Larger ships on the horizon
22,000 teu containerships will start being built in a few years and 24,000 teu vessels won't be far behind,
posted by adamvasco at 9:43 AM on July 11, 2013


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