Economies of scale have long been important in shipping. There’s savings on crew, because fewer voyages need to be made for the same amount shipped. There’s savings on size because as the size of a container increases, the capacity increases much more rapidly than the amount of material used to contain it.
Unfortunately, huge ships also have downsides. Many ports cannot dock them at all, which means smaller cities — even smaller countries — cannot use them. So they are “social inequalizers” in that sense. Another major problem with the largest ships is that they cannot turn quickly, and cannot respond well to certain types of emergency. And if a small oil tanker loses its load in a remote locale, it’s much more likely local resources will be able to cope than if a supertanker is involved.
This may not be a case for “Small is Beautiful”, but these massive ships carry a price tag that’s larger than just what the owners pay.
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