Source: Web sites of port authorities and terminal operators.
There are technical constraints in accommodating large containerships, mainly related to terminal depth and terminal surface. While a terminal could have sufficient depth to handle a large ship, it could be lacking in a sufficient terminal surface to store a large inflow and outflow of containers (and vice versa). This underlines that although the draft is an important issue, a port could face acute congestion and be unable to technically accommodate large ships if its yard space is insufficient. For container terminals built in recent years (particularly in Pacific Asia), depth and available space considerations were of prime importance in site selection. This is notably the case for transshipment hubs where the nautical profile dominates site selection instead of hinterland access.
A sample of over 500 container terminals located in all of the world’s major markets reveals that one-third of the terminals are below Panamax depth (slightly above 12 meters; 40 feet). 62.3% of the facilities have a depth below 14 meters (45 feet), making them unable to accommodate most Post-Panamax containerships. 37.5% of container terminals can handle Post-Panamax containerships in the range of 8,000 TEU. Still, few facilities (7.8%) have a depth above 16 meters (50 feet), which limits the service network configuration of the largest containerships (above 14,000 TEU).
In terms of surface, 40.7% of the terminals have enough yard space (above 40 hectares) to handle very large containerships, with two major categories standing out. The first corresponds to terminals between 10 to 30 hectares, which relate either to standard standalone terminals or to a single pier concession within a larger terminal facility (e.g. Laem Chabang, Kaohsiung). The second category corresponds to mega terminals above 100 hectares operated as single facilities by a global terminal operator (e.g. Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas).