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.