>> Transpacific - port coverage from April 1st.more.

>> Are direct services becoming less attractive for shipping lines?. more.

>> What happens to the small ships post Panama Canal expansion?. more.

>> Maersk to acquire Hamburg-Sud and reinforce its presence on the Latin America routes. more.

>>£0.5 trillion of trade passes through UK ports. More.

>> The future of rail freight and private investment. More.

>> The Northern Freight and Logistics report. More. 

>> Oxford Cambridge Expressway Study. More.

>> The potential impact of Brexit on trade. More.

>> India - the impact of shipping lines’ consolidation and the cabotage rule change. More.

>> Iran – changes in maritime services post-sanctions. more.

>> 'India: The only way is up' say MDST in an article published by Lloyds List. More.

>> Hanjin’s collapse - A wake-up call to the industry? More.

>> Peak season 2016: could the seemingly more rational shipping lines restore stability to the market?. More.

>> Panama Canal Expansion: the major announcements so far have been made by the CKYHE Alliance and G6 Alliance: each have indicated the upsizing of some of their vessels on the services passing through the Panama Canal as shown in MDS Transmodal's analysis. More.

>> CMA-CGM’s acquisition of Neptune Orient Lines and Cosco’s merger with China Shipping Container Line (CSCL), prompted the need for a few changes in the current capacity-sharing agreements amongst the shipping lines. More.

>> MDST has been appointed by Transport for the North (TfN), in partnership with York Aviation and Regeneris Consulting, to carry out a review of international passenger connectivity in the North of England. More.

>> Chris Rowland, Managing Director of MDST, presented the draft conclusions from the Transport for the North (TfN) Freight & Logistics Strategy at the Freight in the City Conference in Manchester on 3 March 2016. More.

>> With 22 maritime services, Iran is expected to see an increase of around 250% in the capacity of container shipping passing through its ports in spring 2016, as shipping lines seek to benefit from the removal of sanctions. More.

>> MDST Chairman, Mike Garratt, wrote to the editor of RAIL magazine in March about the future of rail freight in Great Britain. More.

>> MDST has examined the evidence for Chinese ‘dumping’ of steel on the global and UK markets using its World Cargo Database, which allows it to monitor world trade by both volume and value and for detailed commodities. More.

>> East Asia export box trade sees growth of 1.7% in 2015, says MDST in an article published by Lloyds List. More.

>> The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has published road traffic forecasts which used MDST’s GB Freight Model (GBFM) to develop forecasts to 2040 for HGV traffic on the British road network. More.

>> Ports should be at the centre of distribution chains says MDST. More.

>> Based on its analysis of Eurostat port statistics and its own World Cargo Database, MDS Transmodal has concluded that ports handled 640 million tonnes in 2014, a market share of 40%. More.

Search Our Website

What happens to the small ships post Panama Canal expansion?

After a series of delays, on 26th June 2016, Panama inaugurated the expanded Canal where larger locks now allow the passage of vessels that can carry up to 14,000 TEU (vessel capacity before the improvement being a maximum 5,000TEU). This will enable shipping lines and shippers to benefit from economies of scale as well as improvements in transit times.

Focusing on the Far East - North America East Coast trade lane, we estimate that the number of services has declined from 33 in 2015Q4 to 27 in 2016Q4, with the vessels deployed on this trade lane down from 322 to 256 during the same period. Looking at the deployed capacity, we estimate that the decline in both number of services and in number of vessels has been accompanied by a decrease of circa 6% in the overall capacity deployed on this trade lane. The class of ships estimated to have experienced the biggest decline is, unsurprisingly, that of 3,000-4,999TEU, accounting for 49% of the overall capacity deployed on these routes in 2015Q4, down to 17% in 2016Q4.

The decline in the usage of these vessels in these routes does not come as a surprise. The fate of some of these vessels, on the other hand, remains unknown. From our Containership Databank, we estimate that during the fourth quarter of 2015, there were 144 vessels of 3,000-4,999TEU deployed on the Far East – North America East Coast trade lane, of which 23 have remained on the same route and 60 have been cascaded to other routes in 2016Q4. Of the remaining 61 vessels, we estimate that 15 have been scrapped while as many as 46 have been laid up, with the latter accounting for some 32% of the overall capacity deployed on these routes in 2015Q4.

How many of these vessels will be allocated to other routes, likely intra-regional markets, is not easy to predict. What seems likely to happen, however, is that the average age of the scrapped ships could reduce in the coming months. As shown in the following table, the average age of the 46 vessels is less than 10 years.

Table 1: Vessels of 3,000-4,999 TEU deployed on the FE-NAEC trade lane in 2015Q4

No. of ships

 Status in 2016Q4


Average age







Laid Up





Cascaded to new routes





Same route









Source: MDS Transmodal Containership Databank, January 2017