NY to Taiwan strait is now only ~14 days, previously ~20 days and LA Taiwan strait remains ~8 days. LA - Israel travel times from 18 days to 11, from NY about 7 days.
This has relatively little to do with "power projection" as carrier battle group is lot more likely to use the Suez canal in such situations. But for U.S. defense this is significant. Now nobody can start crossing the pacific with evil thoughts without taking into account every carrier battle group in Pacific and Atlantic. And if you embark from Barents sea, you have to take into account anything floating around Hawaii or closer.
Here is Nimitz at suez channel:
http://web.mst.edu/~rogersda/military_service/Carrier%20in%2... and here in Magellan strait: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_040621-N-653...
Edit: added the word "stormy". Drake passage is mean business.https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2008/03/04/e9944d14-f4d...
In defense in general, it's often lot more important to have capabilities and possibilities. Those alone can act as deterrence or threat. Which is often enough to gain the underlying political goal.
In naval defensive context, the doctrine is historically called "fleet in being".
The industry’s bleak economics
Transport is often seen as the harbinger of the broader economy. It certainly fulfilled that role in the recent economic crisis, as business fell off precipitously. However, shipping is now also a kind of lagging indicator: its performance is trailing the broader, somewhat erratic global recovery.
A big part of the problem is that the industry continues to add capacity. By 2015, the typical vessel delivered will handle about 10,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEU), five times more than ships built in the 1990s. Not surprisingly, pressure to fill this capacity and capture the efficiency benefits of larger vessels has led to hasty decisions by carriers. In turn, profits have become exceptionally volatile. Record losses in 2009 were followed by strong profits in 2010―and significant losses again in 2011.
The supply/demand imbalance, the larger vessels that will only make the imbalance worse, and the volatility of profits are significant problems. However we argue that they are in fact symptoms of these deeper challenges:
The market is saturated, and the industry is now in a race for market share. The quest to take share is squeezing out smaller players and has started another wave of price wars. Shipping companies are forsaking their guidelines on pricing, both in spot rates and general rate increases, and choosing not to enforce contracts with customers.
Companies are pricing at their marginal cost. That’s not necessarily bad; in fact, it’s the right decision for many. But for others it is irrational, and when everyone does it, the industry suffers. Many shipping companies have ineffective cost-management systems.
Depending on your country, you may be able to read the whole thing on Google Books via this link from Danielle Sucher:
> Indeed, according to Alphaliner, there are about 40 panamax container vessels currently seeking employment on the spot market against an unfavourable backdrop of oversupply. It said that charter rates remained “stuck at rock-bottom levels” – typically at about just $5,000-$5,500 a day
13mi offshore? What can go wrong is you're still in US territorial waters; they end ~4,200 feet further out, because territorial waters are defined in nautical miles.
But even if you amend to "13 nautical miles off the coast", you run into "Hi, you're still in our exclusive economic zone." To get out of that and truly be free of both territorial and economic-exploitation claims of existing states, you need to be more than 200nm from any coast. Which is ~230mi and a bit more of a hassle to commute to, supply, etc., not to mention you'd need to build a stable anchorage for them and all the natural ones are, well, within the territorial waters or exclusive economic zones of existing states.
Though I assume docking fees would be above the $5500 a day.
From 'Dictionary of Shipping Terms' by Peter Brodie :
> Service offered by a shipping line involving several vessels performing outward and return voyages between ports in two distinct geographic or commercial areas. Also referred to as a 'service string' or 'string of vessels'
"requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents."
Not a lot of those so US port to port is run a bit different. Basically Hawaii and Alaska.
* Airbus A330-200, maximum range 8,360mi.
* Airbus A330-300, maximum range 7,300mi.
* Airbus A380-800, maximum range 9,400mi.
* Boeing 747-400, maximum range 8,350mi.
* Boeing 747-400ER, maximum range 8,820mi.
But the great-circle distance JFK-SYD is 9,950mi. It was only recently that they were able to start DFW-SYD as a nonstop with the A380; the 747s used previously had to make a stop in Brisbane. And once it went nonstop, it was the longest regularly-scheduled commercial airline flight in the world until March of this year, when Emirates began flying nonstop from Dubai to Auckland.
Currently, Qantas is said to be evaluating the next-generation 777 variants for possible nonstop service to and from New York, but until then they'll have to make a stop somewhere. They have the same issue in the other direction, too: they partner with Emirates so they can use Dubai as a halfway point for their flights to and from Europe.
Here's some actual schedules showing real routes calling at multiple US ports:
 PDF: http://www.hamburgsud-line.com/hsdg/media/hamburgsd/document...
 PDF: https://www.msc.com/getattachment/dfebb208-935e-4060-b0c7-a5...
besides, I can't think of any use-cases where container shipping within US would be sensible. US company supply chains aren't designed in a way where procurement activities are dispersed and could benefit from intra-US container shipping. unless someone can think of a company?
another note: IIRC theres a lot of traffic that discharges at LA and rails to HOU. even with the expanded canal, this is the most cost efficient way to get cargo from asia to houston. trans-pacific vessels are > 10k TEU so if a supplier wanted to go through panama canal, you'd have to use smaller trans-pacific vessel which would raise shippers unit cost thus raising the suppliers cost. if you're a company that relies heavily on asian imports, your facilities are typically located on the west coast to avoid extra transportation cost anyway.
i don't think this news is that impactful
Edit: Obviously, the canal is now larger. So Panamax in this case refers to ships that maxed out the old maximum size.
The original two lock lanes were built in 1917, and they were built big for the time. But bigger ships are now available and won't fit. So the Panama Canal Authority just finished a third lock lane, with longer, wider, and deeper locks, for larger ships. There were problems with the new construction, including serious leaks in the concrete. But the new locks open for business in 10 days.
Here's good drone imagery of the new locks being used by a ship for the first test run.
If you're really into this, here's a video of the basic operational procedures for using the new locks. A maximum sized, fully loaded container ship pays about $1M in tolls for each transit. That's about $85 per container. There's a loyalty program for regular customers, with discounts.
The water in the lake is only refilled during Panama's rainy season, and drought conditions in recent years have on occasion made it necessary to put restrictions on the ships transiting the system.
Those huge basins next to the new locks in the video are a water cycling system. They aim to capture a significant percentage of the water as they cycle the locks and then re-use it, rather than just draining the lakes.
Is there a plan to enlarge at least one of the existing lanes, once the new lane is open?
I love how it refers to the "high mast lighting"  as "high mast lightNing" in both the speech and on-screen text.
I guess they're not all native speakers (neither am I, to be clear). It's kind of a "honey pot" in English that I somehow tend to be sensitive to. :)
Is there a convention of calling ships that cross Panama from southeast to northwest 'eastbound' and ships that traverse from northwest to southeast 'westbound?' Because that seems like it would be even more confusing that things already are.
The convention is actually to call the Atlantic side 'north' and the Pacific side 'south'.