Ultra Large Container Vessels are continuing to call at multiple North European ports with each loop and are not concentrating on a mega-hub, reported Drewry in the latest issue of its Container Insight Weekly newsletter.
"Despite containerships doubling in size in the past 10 years on the Far East-North Europe route, there has not been a reduction in the number of North European ports called by each service," the London-based consultants said. It found the average number of North European port calls per loop has remained broadly unchanged, at four per service string.
"As in the past, container services follow a traditional multi-port itinerary and call at about four separate North European ports. These are typically a Benelux port (usually Rotterdam or Antwerp), a German port, a UK port and either Le Havre or one of the second-tier European ports," it said.
Drewry continued, "This confirms the old shipping adage
that the mothership must go as close as possible to the final
destination or origin of the cargo — where the market is a large one.
This is also advantageous for shippers, because direct calls avoid the
risk of missed feeder connections."
The firm also found that in the past five years, lines have started adding ports they didn't previously serve directly.
"Initially, this was partly driven by a desire to use up excess ship capacity by extending voyage times (in conjunction with slow steaming)," it said. "However, it has not proved to be a short-lived move and now appears to be well established."