Photo: Dr. Theo Notteboom, 2009.
Economies of scale and the size specialization of containerships are apparent in the above photo at the port of Algeciras, Spain, which is a major transshipment hub at the Strait of Gibraltar. At the forefront, a ship of 2,800 TEU (Maersk Jamestown) can be used to service regional feeder ports or ports generating lower cargo volumes. In the middle is a Panamax ship of 4,200 TEU (Lica Maersk class) that can be accommodated by ports having a draft of 40 feet. In the back is a ship (Evelyn Maersk), part of the largest containership class (Emma Class) in existence with a capacity of 12,500 TEU, supporting the Asia – Europe long-distance trade and servicing only the largest ports. Those three ships were all constructed after 2000, underlining that although maritime shipping companies are leaning towards economies of scale, they are using a variety of ship classes that optimize their service configuration.