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Ultra-large box ships prompt safety review

LOS ANGELES: January 14, 2016. APM Terminals’ Pier 400 moved 11,200 containers during the 56-hour visit of the 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin last month. APM said accommodating the largest containership at a North American port followed an earlier Pier 400 record of nearly 35,000 container moves from handling three 13,000-TEU class vessels simultaneously.

Ben Franklin CMA CGMThe company said the increasing frequency of Ultra-Large Container Ships (ULCS) of more than 10,000 TEU capacity at the world’s major container ports has prompted the need to improve terminal safety procedures for terminal truck traffic and container handling.

“Our intention is to continue to improve safety performance by increasing the separation between people and machines” said APM Pier 400 managing director Steven Trombley, who added: “Put simply: keep drivers in their truck cabs while inside the terminal, or provide them additional safeguards if this is unavoidable.”

APM said the goal of the program is to reduce the risk of accident or injury to outside truck drivers with business at the Pier 400 facility. Drivers will now be kept in specifically designated and protected areas where they can exit their cabs to lock the pins which hold containers onto container chassis. APM has also created an area for truck parking while drivers address any gate transaction problems, and redesigned the chassis exchange area to improve safety during the pick-up and drop-off of empty container chassis.

The APM response to handling larger ships coincides with a Drewry Maritime Research observation that for the fourth year in a row, fully cellular containership growth has outpaced that of world port throughput and is “fast approaching” a capacity of 20 million TEU.

By the end of 2015 the world’s containership fleet consisted of approximately 5,200 vessels with an aggregate capacity of 19.8 million TEU. Drewry noted that ships of 10,000 TEU or above are now close to 22 percent of the cellular fleet - up from about four percent at the end of 2011. “That share will only continue to rise as ships in that size category currently make up three-quarters of the order book,” it added.

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