Transshipment hubs are perhaps the most critical component in container shipping networks. Transshipment enables traffic consolidation and the related scale economies in ship size, rationalization of shipping routes and adjustment of ship capacity to traffic density, and expanding the number of ports covered by the shipping network.
The latest study of PortEconomics member Jean-Paul Rodrigue along with Asaf Ashar (National Ports and Waterways Initiative, University of New Orleans, USA) provides an assessment of the current state of transshipment with a particular reference to the potential impacts of the expansion of the Panama Canal on this activity in the Caribbean basin. While US East Coast ports are expecting an increase in the size of ships deployed on the through-Panama services following the Canal expansion from the current Panamax to post-Panamax ships, it is argued that substituting direct calling by feedering and expanded transshipment activities in Caribbean hubs is more likely. This transformation in service pattern will be gradual, however. In the first period after the expansion the present direct calling is expected to continue, since post-Panamax ships initially deployed on through-Panama services will not differ much than those on through-Suez services already calling the US. The transformation will take place mainly in the second period, 5 to 10 years after the expansion, when larger ships, defined as New Panamax (NPX), which cannot be efficiently handled by US East Coast ports, will be deployed. Accordingly, a substantial growth in transshipment in the Caribbean Region will take place especially during the second period.
The study titled ‘Transshipment hubs in the new panamax era: The role of the Caribbean’ is in press for publicaton in Journal of Transport Geography.
Download authors’ version in PortEconomics.