In the wake of the Ever Given incident, some cargo owners and industry commentators have suggested that larger container vessels lead to poor service quality.
The size impact of container vessels has long been a hotly debated topic in the industry and has once again come to the forefront following the Suez Canal blockage, says maritime consultancy Sea-Intelligence CEO Alan Murphy.
Research undertaken by the consultancy however debunks this theory.
“We can very clearly see that the assumption that larger vessels are unreliable is incorrect. In fact, the +22 500-TEU-vessels that were deployed on the trade lane from September 2019 had the highest schedule reliability of 95.1% across all vessel-size groups in that year. In 2018, however, we see a slightly different trend, with the 10 000-12 499-TEU vessels the most reliable with 84.4% schedule reliability. The vessel-size groups from 15 000 TEUs upwards see decreasing schedule reliability with increasing vessel size. However, both 15 000-17 499-TEU and 17 500-19 999-TEU vessel groups had higher schedule reliability than the 12 500-14 999-TEU vessel group,” says Murphy.
On the Asia-Mediterranean route in 2019, when looking at vessels of over 10 000 TEUs, schedule reliability increased with increasing vessel-size groups, with both the 20 000-22 499 TEU and the 23 000-TEU-vessels recording perfect 100% reliability, according to the research. “Even in 2018, the two largest vessel-size groups in deployment – 17 500-19 999 TEUs and 20 000-22 499 TEUs – had the highest schedule reliability of 85.2% and 84.2%, respectively.”
While the ultra-large container vessels are only consistently deployed on the Asia-Europe trade lane, the analysis was extended to the Transpacific, for reference. “On Asia-North America West Coast, both the 7 500-9 999-TEU and 12 500-14 999-TEU vessel-size groups recorded similar schedule reliability in both 2018 and 2019, while the 10 000-12 499-TEU group recorded higher reliability in 2019 of 73.3%. The only variation on the Transpacific was on the Asia-North America East Coast trade lane, where the largest vessel-size group had the lowest schedule reliability.”