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June 23, 2014

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18 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE JUNE 23.2014 COVER STORY BERTH PRODUCTIVITY PER ship call at Asia's efficient container terminals consistently outranks their U.S. and European coun- terparts, but a looming challenge is how to avoid lost time at berths as ships take up more space and remain in port longer. Before mega-ships capable of carry- ing 8,000 to 18,000 20-foot-equivalent units began to inundate Asian ports, many berths could accommodate three ships of 330 yards each. Today, two 9,500-TEU vessels take up 800 yards of space, reduc- ing the number of ships able to call and potentially leading to congestion. "Productivity will not increase, and even ma inta ining t he level is a cha l- lenge. Longer vessels of 440 yards (such as Maersk Line's Triple E class) will lead to more berth wastage," said Subhangshu Dutt, executive director, Krishnapatnam port in Southeast India. Hong Kong's Kwai Chung container terminals are feeling an especially dra- matic impact. Although 60 percent of Kwai Chung's berths can handle 13,000-TEU vessels and larger, those bigger ships are pressuring operations. Kwai Chung opened in 1972, and shorter berth lengths mean only 15 of the 24 berths can accommodate ships carrying more than 12,000 TEUs. Jessie Chung, chairman of the Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators Associa- tion, said this could be addressed by investing in upgraded infrastructure and equipment to enable more berths to handle the vessels. Bob Greulich, a Hong Kong-based con- sultant for the Port of Charleston, questions whether serving the larger vessels justified losing the berth space. "Instead of being able to handle three smaller vessels, a port will only be able to take two, and just because a ship is bigger does not mean there will be more cargo to load or offload," he said. "Pro- By Greg Knowler ASIA'S TROUBLED BERTH OUTLOOK Why a steady dose of mega-ships limits the potential for productivity gains at Asian ports

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