Source: adapted from O'Neil, H.O. and M.L. Moss (1998).
Channel Depth at Selected North American Ports, 1998-2009 (in feet)
As the world container fleet gets upgraded with larger ships, major ports are facing the challenge of accommodating deeper vessel drafts. While a typical Panamax containership could be accommodated by a 35-foot channel, the new generation of post-Panamax containerships handling between 4,000 and 8,000 TEUS requires a channel depth between 42 and 52 feet. Under such circumstances, many ports along the Northeast coast are not accessible to the new generation of containerships. This has triggered a "race to the bottom" for ports at the depth margin, such as Charleston, New York and Savannah, all of which have completed a phase of deepening above 45 feet. By 2009, it is expected that the Port of New York will be deepened to 50 feet.