How Big is a Container Terminal?

When it comes to shipping it is very easy to find out the size of things. If you want to know how large a particular ship or terminal is the statistics are freely available. But when comparing numbers, especially to a novice, it is easy to become confused or just plain bored comparing tonnage, TEU’s, acreage, crane size, etc.

Below is a picture from our ship that we snapped in Port Elizabeth, NJ. It’s taken from the bridge wing of the ship, and gives the viewer an impression of the scale of a container terminal’s operations.

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For an idea of exactly how big all this is consider: each container in this photo is 45 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9 1/2 feet high. So the stack in the picture is 38 feet high. (It will reach 66 feet eventually.) The photo also shows only the port side, meaning the stack shown is about 72 feet wide, and continues out of the frame for another 72.

Now consider how much bigger the crane is than the stack. (There are parts of 3 separate cranes in this picture) Now consider that about 2/3 of the crane is out of the frame. Now look through the cranes at all the stacks of containers in the background. Now consider all the stacks in the yard that are out of the frame. Now consider that our 1000 foot ship is one of about 10 moored to this dock at the same time, each with attendant cranes, and there are multiple docks in a terminal.

Now you start to get an idea of how big a container terminal is.