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Container transshipment at Kingston, Jamaica

Robert J. McCalla
Department of Geography, Saint Marys University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3C3
Transshipment of containers is the fastest growing segment of the container port market. Competition among ports to attract large
vessels and thus enhance the potential for transshipment leads one to consider the necessary attributes of a transshipment port. To this
end, two fundamental geographical factors, site and situation, are at play. Using Kingston, Jamaica as an example, this paper analyses
the importance of two situation factors, centrality and intermediacy, operating at three geographical scales (global, hemispheric and
regional), in explaining the use of Kingston as a transshipment centre. In 2006, Kingston had 37 distinct container shipping services iden-
tied as global (14), hemispheric (6) and regional (17). At the global level, shipping lines are trading on Kingstons high intermediacy
situation especially relative to the Panama Canal. Centrality would explain the hemispheric activity although to a somewhat limited
extent. Both centrality and intermediacy explain Kingston as a regional hub for feeder services to all corners of the Caribbean Basin.
2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Caribbean; Transshipment; Site; Situation; Centrality; Intermediacy
1. Introduction
Transshipment of containers is the fastest growing seg-
ment of the container port market with growth rates in
the period 19802005 which are three times as fast as
port-to-port segments (Baird, 2005). On average, Baird
estimates that close to 30% of all containers handled in
ports today are moved intramodally in transshipment
involving mainlinefeeder (feedermainline) or mainline
mainline connections. There is wide variation in the impor-
tance of transshipment in individual ports with some ports,
e.g., Gioia Tauro, Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas or Freeport,
Bahamas, having a transshipment incidence of more than
90% (Baird, 2005). As De Monie et al. (1998) point out
although it has taken some twenty-ve years to material-
ize, today the signicance of transshipment and feeder
operations has become obvious to all involved in maritime
transportation or liner shipping. Since that statement
transshipment has become an even bigger activity in the
container shipping world.
There is not just one type of transshipment. Both intra-
modal and intermodal transshipment are recognized. The
latter is better known as intermodal transportation where
cargoes are transferred from one mode to another at freight
terminals be they at the sealand interface or inland. For
purposes of this paper, transshipment is considered to be
intramodal between ships occurring at seaports. However,
even in this type of transshipment there are dierences.
Genco and Pitto (2000) identify three dierent types: Hub
and spoke where containers are exchanged between con-
necting deep-sea and feeder vessels at hub ports; relay
transshipment where containers are exchanged between
deep-sea vessels deployed in dierent long-haul routes;
and interlining transshipment with the exchange of contain-
ers between connecting deep-sea vessels deployed in paral-
lel strings but with dierent port rotations. One can also
add that feederfeeder transshipment also occurs as trans-
shipment networks get more strung out so that even the
smallest ports are reached.
The increase in transshipment can be accounted for by a
number of factors. First, is the increase in world trade espe-
cially in goods carried by container ships. The WTO esti-
mates that the volume of world exports in manufacturing
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Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190
goods (those goods most often carried in containers)
increased by 5.0% from 2000 to 2005 compared to increases
in manufacturing production and world GDP of 2.5% in
the same period (WTO, 2006). UNCTAD estimates that
between 2000 and 2005 total containerized trac doubled
from about 50 million TEUs to close to 100 million (UNC-
TAD, 2006). These facts, in themselves, do not lead to
more transshipment. They do, though, point to increased
demand for container shipping services which is being
increasingly met by larger ships because of the economies
of scale that can be achieved with the larger vessels. This
increase in ship size has several ramications which reect
on transshipment.
Economics dictates that the larger the ship the fewer
port calls it must make in order to maximize the time the
ship is at sea and thus generate revenue. Large ships dis-
place smaller, still functional, vessels that are taken from
global service to hemispheric and regional service to act
as feeders for the large global vessels. With increased econ-
omies of scale in feeder ships, feedering becomes more
attractive in competition with long distance land transport.
Port productivity in handling large vessels is also improved
because of simplied stowage plans and the potential to
allocate more gantry cranes to the large vessel. Finally,
transshipment has increased because ports are competing
aggressively to attract the business. Transshipment means
containers are handled twice within the same terminal
and revenues are derived from each transaction. Also there
is the opportunity for the port and local entrepreneurs,
including the shipping lines, to provide value added logis-
tics services to the cargoes while they are in the holding
stage e.g., warehousing, repackaging, relabelling (Frankel,
2006). Almost all major transshipment ports have free
trade zones associated with them largely to attract and gen-
erate local trade ows to the benet of the port.
Competition among ports to attract the large vessels and
thus enhance the potential for transshipment leads one to
consider the necessary attributes of a transshipment port.
To this end, two fundamental geographical factors dene
the relative merits of one port over another: site (in situ
characteristics of the place) and situation (i.e. the location
of the port relative to other ports and shipping lanes which
the port serves). When considering port location and
attractiveness as a transshipment point, it is suggested that
situation factors are more important than site ones. In situ
characteristics can be altered either through engineering or
management, but relative location cannot be manufactured
or managed. The very best site factors cannot make a port
a transshipment centre. It needs to have a favourable situ-
ation rst. If the situation warrants, even poor site factors
can be overcome.
Important site factors for a port can be divided among
those on the land, those in the water and those at the inter-
face of land and water where the port is located. Table 1
gives a summary. No one site factor is more important than
another, but deciencies may be overcome through engi-
neering of physical limitations or management and good
governance of key socioeconomic variables and enlight-
ened public policy which will lead to better eciencies
(Sanchez et al., 2003).
Situation factors can be divided between those that give
the port centrality and those in reference to intermediacy
(Hayuth and Fleming, 1994). Centrality refers to location
within the market area the port serves. It is both a reference
to the ports ability to attract and generate trac for its
hinterland area, and also an element of location relative
to the foreland areas which the port serves. If the port is
in the midst of a large hinterland, as opposed to being on
the periphery contrast the positions of New York and
Halifax in serving the North American Eastern Seaboard
or Antwerp and Le Havre in serving the Benelux countries
then the more central port has an advantage in serving the
shipping needs of that hinterland.
Foreland centrality is also important for the port to
attract shipping lines and services. It is especially important
for transshipment ports. To have foreland centrality is to
be located in the midst of the overseas areas the port serves.
For a transshipment port to maximize its transshipment
throughput it would be best that the port served more than
one transshipment foreland market. With more than two
markets the question of best location based on minimiza-
tion of transshipment distances to/from those markets,
i.e. centrality, becomes important in selling the ports vir-
tues as a transshipment point. With equal weightings or
importance of the markets a central position equidistant
from each of the markets would minimize total transship-
ment distances to/from the port and each of the markets.
Such a situation would be benecial to a mainline liner
company attempting to serve all the transshipment markets
from only one port. With unequal weightings of markets
the optimum minimum distance transshipment point
would presumably be drawn to the largest market. This is
much like the Weber location problem of optimum indus-
Table 1
Important site considerations for a port
Location Characteristics to consider
On the land Physical land characteristics (quantity, topography,
Labour (quantity, quality, stability)
Perception of the ports importance in the regions
Transportation infrastructure
Room for expansion
On the water Water depth in the approach channels
Tidal range
Shelter from prevailing winds
At the
Land ownership
Land availability
Biophysical sensitivity of land and water
Water depth at docks
Adjacent land uses and their compatibility to port
Port/terminal administration and operation
R.J. McCalla / Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190 183
trial location where unequal weightings of raw materials
draw the minimum distance location towards the heavier
or most used raw material. An equidistant location to all
transshipment markets also allows for changes in the
weightings of the markets by giving the transshipment port,
and the companies providing transshipment services to
those markets, exibility in serving expanding markets.
Such centrality will minimize distances to and from the
port to all the forelands served. A port such as Singapore
(see below) is advantageously placed to serve South East
Asian areas much better than ports further north, e.g.,
Hong Kong, or further west, e.g., Colombo.
Ports also gain relative location, and importance, from
the fact that they are located in favourable intermediate
positions relative to sea lanes. Ports favourably located
act as intervening opportunities relative to other ports
which may have greater centrality for goods to be trans-
shipped at them, either intramodally or intermodally. Rot-
terdam, for example, acts as an intervening opportunity for
goods to/from Germany in competition with north Ger-
man ports which have greater centrality to that market.
Similarly, Pusan acts as an intermediary for north China
ports even though ports such as Tianjin, Dalian and Qing-
dao are closer and more central to that market.
Situation factors are now probably more important in
accounting for the success of a port than site ones. It
may be that, in the original development of the port,
physical site factors deep water, protected anchorage, at
land were necessary conditions for the ports establish-
ment but as the port grows and the area to which it is tied
grows then the port outgrows its original site and accom-
modations must be made (Bird, 1971). These accommoda-
tions will be made if the situation of port its centrality
and intermediacy warrants them.
Both centrality and intermediacy play a role in dening
the merits of a port as a transshipment point. For hub
and spoke transshipment, foreland centrality in the area
to/from which feeders transport goods is vitally important.
But intermediacy also plays a role. Hub and spoke trans-
shipment, as well as relay, interlining and feederfeeder
transshipment, depend on the port being in close proximity
to intersecting sea lanes which enable the port to capture
trac that would otherwise be shipped directly to ports
more removed fromthose sea lanes. The challenge of under-
standing the importance of these factors in determining the
merits of a port as a transshipment hub is the geographical
scale at which centrality and intermediacy are to be consid-
ered. At dierent scales global vs. hemispheric vs. regional
centrality and intermediacy change. As the scale broadens
there is greater scope for a port to be central to a market, or
intermediate between markets. Conversely, as the scale col-
lapses, there is less opportunity for a port to be both central
and intermediate to markets because there are fewer mar-
kets to consider. Successful transshipment ports maintain
their centrality and intermediacy at all scales.
Consider Singapore for example. It has both centrality
and intermediacy. It serves an immediate hinterland area
of 4.5 million people and it has foreland centrality at all
scales. Globally, it is almost equidistant from the West
Coast of North America and North West Europe (via
Suez). Its centrality is also dened in Asian terms being
almost equidistant by water from Karachi, Pakistan and
Kobe, Japan, putting it in the middle of half the worlds
population. Finally, it has regional centrality in South East
Asia in the heart of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Its
global, hemispheric and regional intermediacy is well
dened by the trade lanes to which it is proximate. Glob-
ally, it is well positioned on EastWest trade routes linking
the Indian Ocean and Europe to the West with the Pacic
realm and America to the East. Hemispherically, it serves
as a transshipment point for Asian trac moving both
EastWest (IndiaJapan, for example) and NorthSouth
(ChinaIndonesia). The global and hemispheric intermedi-
acy allows Singapore to not only act as a hub and spoke
transshipment point but also as a relay and interline point.
The regional centrality and intermediacy among ports in
South East Asia also encourage hub and spoke transship-
ment at Singapore.
Another example of multi-scale centrality and interme-
diacy working to the advantage of a transshipment port
is Marsaxlokk, Malta. Although Malta itself has a popula-
tion of less than one million it is located centrally within
the Mediterranean Basin. Globally, it is almost equidistant
between East Coast North America and South East Asia.
Hemispherically, it is equidistant by water between Rotter-
dam in North Europe and Dakar, Senegal in West Africa.
But its location is also intermediate between many shipping
routes allowing for the transfer of cargo between deep-sea
routes (EastWest and NorthSouth in relay and interline
transshipment) and short sea ones (hub and spoke trans-
shipment and feederfeeder) within the Mediterranean.
This brings us to the focus of this paper: Kingston,
Jamaica as a transshipment centre for the Caribbean Basin
and the Western Hemisphere. The paper considers, in
detail, the case of Kingston in terms of locational attributes
especially situation elements related to multi-scale central-
ity and intermediacy. A general consideration of the cen-
trality and intermediacy attributes of the port is rst
undertaken. This is followed by a detailed consideration
of the shipping services at Kingston and how they can be
seen to reect the centrality and intermediacy characteris-
tics of the port. Before proceeding to the locational charac-
teristics of Kingston it is well to provide details about
Kingston as a container port and transshipment centre.
2. Kingston
2.1. Container handling
Kingston has been a container port since the 1970s. In
1973 it handled 283,000 tonnes of containerized cargo
(Containerisation International Yearbook, 1976). Over
the years the port has undergone four phases of develop-
ment related to handling containers. The last phase was
184 R.J. McCalla / Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190
completed in February 2006. The Port Authority of
Jamaica, the state body responsible for port operations in
Kingston since 1972, signed a ve year contract with
APM Terminals in 2001 to manage and operate the Kings-
ton Container Terminal. In the past 5 years container han-
dling in Kingston has almost doubled (Table 2). As can be
seen, almost 90% of the containers handled are for trans-
shipment. With the 1.6 million TEUs handled in 2005 the
port is almost at its container handling capacity and has
entered into phase 5 of its development plans which will
increase the capacity to 3.2 million TEUs by 2009 (Carib-
bean Shipping Association, 2006).
2.2. Location
2.2.1. Site
Kingston, Jamaica is located on the south east coast of
the Island of Jamaica. The container handling area of the
port is to the west of the city and fronts onto Kingston
Harbour, a very large expanse of water behind the Palisa-
does, a spit of land with Port Royal at its western end.
Kingston Harbour claims to be the seventh largest natural
harbour in the world. Entrance to the harbour is by way of
a 14 m dredged channel of a least 250 m width. There are
two container terminals in Kingston. Kingston Container
Terminal operated by APM Terminals is the larger with
6 berths and 13 quayside cranes. Kingston Wharves is adja-
cent to APMT and operates two public wharves.
2.2.2. Situation
As was the case for Singapore and Marsaxlokk, Kings-
tons relative location can be dened by multi-scale central-
ity and intermediacy. Its centrality is largely based on
foreland positioning and not on its hinterland dimensions.
Unlike Singapore and Marsaxlokk Kingston does not
occupy a central global position in container shipping. Its
centrality is more hemispheric and especially regional (see
Table 3). At the global scale note the imbalance between
Kingstons location relative to North Europe (Rotterdam)
and East Asia (Pusan). Hemispherically, Kingston is equi-
distant between East Coast North America and West Coast
South America using the representative ports of New York
and Guayaquil as surrogates for these two regions. Kings-
ton loses this hemispheric centrality relative to East Coast
North America and East Coast South America (repre-
sented by Recife). It is at the regional, Caribbean Basin,
level that Kingstons centrality is seen best. It is almost
equidistant from South Florida, Central America, North
Coast South America and Eastern Caribbean Islands. It
loses some of this centrality when considering the US Gulf
Coast and Eastern Mexico. As Fig. 1 shows a circle with
radius of 1000 nautical miles would take in all the Islands
of the Caribbean (except Barbados), the southern portion
of Mexico and all the countries of Central America, the
coastal areas of Colombia and the majority of Venezuela,
and Florida and Georgia states in the US.
Kingstons intermediacy can be dened relative to ship-
ping routes to which it is proximate. The concept of devia-
tion distance rst applied in considering hub ports in the
Mediterranean (Ratclie and Sutclie, 1995, and Zohil
and Prijon, 1999) and featured prominently in Bairds
(2006) analysis of the optimal location of a transshipment
hub in northern Europe can be applied here to demonstrate
Kingstons location relative to major shipping routes. Glo-
bal EastWest routes linking Asia, North America and
Europe through the Panama Canal pass near Kingston.
There is a high degree of intermediacy relative to these
routes. As Table 4 shows the deviation distances of Kings-
ton from great circle routes linking North Europe, the
Mediterranean and East Coast North America to/from
Panama are 184, 320, and 99 nautical miles respectively.
In reality, the deviation distance is even less than shown.
The actual shipping lanes joining Colon and New York
and Colon and Rotterdam use the Windward Passage
between Hispanola and Cuba rather than the theoretical
shortest great circle routes joining Colon to New York
and to Rotterdam which pass through Cuba and Hispan-
ola respectively. There is also a high degree of intermediacy
of Kingston to routes linking East Coast North America to
Table 2
Container handling at Kingston, 20022005
Domestic (%) T/shipment (%) Total containers Total TEUs
2002 96,117 (15.2) 536,095 (84.8) 632,212 980,735
2003 100,245 (14.4) 595,087 (85.6) 695,332 1,080,804
2004 109,788 (13.9) 680,838 (86.1) 790,626 1,242,919
2005 118,375 (11.5) 910,456 (88.5) 1,028,831 1,642,862
Source: APM Terminals, Kingston.
Table 3
Centrality of Kingston
Scale Sailing distances from Kingston
To Nautical
Global (East
North Europe (Rotterdam) 4312
Mediterranean (Algeciras) 3917
West Coast North America
(Los Angeles)
East Asia via Panama (Pusan) 10,499
East Coast North America
(New York)
East Coast South America (Recife) 3027
West Coast South America
South Florida (Miami) 747
US Gulf Coast (Houston) 1299
Mexico (Tampico) 1263
Central America (Belize City) 696
Panama (Colon) 555
North Coast South America
(La Guaira)
Eastern Caribbean (San Juan) 635
Source: Distances from and http://www.
R.J. McCalla / Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190 185
West Coast South America. This route, too, in reality
passes through the Windward Passage. However, the inter-
mediacy is very low on the East Coast North America to
East Coast South America route. The deviation distance
of Kingston from the great circle joining New York and
Recife is over 1000 nautical miles almost 30% of the total
distance linking the two ports. Finally, Kingston has high
intermediacy on routes linking the US Gulf Coast to the
North Coast South America and Central America to East-
ern Caribbean Islands.
The degree of Kingstons multi-scale centrality and
intermediacy characteristics in qualitative terms is summa-
rized in Table 5. Of note is the high degree of centrality and
Fig. 1. Location of Kingston in the Caribbean Basin.
Table 4
Intermediacy of Kingston shown by proximity to great circle routes
Route Deviation distance
Kingston from route (nm)
Deviation distance as a percentage of
total great circle route
Representative ports at
end of route
EastWest Global (via Panama)
AsiaNW Europe 184 3.9 ColonRotterdam
AsiaECNA 99 5.2 ColonNew York
AsiaMediterranean 320 7.4 ColonAlgeciras
NorthSouth Hemispheric
ECNAECSA 1078 29.7 New YorkRecife
ECNAWCNA (via Panama) 99 5.2 New YorkColon
Regional (Caribbean Basin)
US GulfNCSA 16 0.8 HoustonLa Guaira
CAmEastern Caribbean 104 6.2 Belize CityBridgetown
ECNA = East Coast North America. ECSA = East Coast South America. WCNA = West Coast North America. NCSA = North Coast South America.
Source: Authors calculations.
Deviation distances are calculated as shortest distances from Kingston to the great circle routes joining the ports in Column 4. See Fig. 2.
Only that portion passing close to Kingston to/from the Panama Canal is considered.
Table 5
A summary of Kingstons centrality and intermediacy
Scale Centrality Intermediacy
AsiaNW Europe L M
AsiaMediterranean L M
CAmEastern Caribbean H H
H = high; M = medium; L = low.
186 R.J. McCalla / Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190
intermediacy within the Caribbean Basin, and on the hemi-
spheric route joining East Coast North America with West
Coast South America. Its high intermediacy on the Asia
ECNA route is oset by its low foreland centrality. On
other routes and among other trade connections Kingston
has either limited centrality or medium to limited interme-
diacy. Based on this assessment, one would expect Kings-
ton to act as a hub and spoke transshipment point for
the Caribbean Basin, a relay point for ECNA and WCSA
trades and to some extent a relay or even interline point for
Asia and ECNA cargoes. The remainder of this paper will
conrm these expectations based on a detailed study of the
container shipping services to/from Kingston (see Fig. 3).
3. Shipping services using Kingston
In July 2006 Kingston was connected by dierent con-
tainer shipping lines directly to the continents of Asia,
North America, South America and Europe. There were
hemispheric connections between the coasts of North, Cen-
tral and South America. There were regional connections
throughout the Caribbean Basin from Florida to Venezu-
ela and Mexico to the Eastern Caribbean Islands. In total
there were 37 distinct shipping services to/from Kingston
many of them being shared services among dierent ship-
ping lines (Table 6). A schematic showing the dierent ser-
vices at dierent scales is shown in Fig. 3.
As is evident (Table 6) shipping companies use Kingston
in dierent ways. Some Maersk, Zim and CMA CGM
oer extensive services at all three geographical scales.
Others only operate at two levels (e.g., Hapag-Lloyd at
the global and hemispheric levels; Seaboard at the hemi-
spheric and regional). Others only oer services at one level
(e.g., Evergreen and CSCL at the global level; CFS, as the
only third party feeder service at Kingston, only oers
regional services).
It is also evident (Fig. 3) that global services through
Kingston use Kingston as a link in EastWest trade routes
to/from East Asia, North America (West Coast and East
Coast) and Europe (North and Mediterranean). Some of
these EastWest services not only stop at Kingston in the
Caribbean Basin but also at ports in Central America,
along the North Coast of South America, in the Eastern
Caribbean or at the United States Gulf Coast. There are
fewer NorthSouth (hemispheric) services through Kings-
ton than global or regional ones. Only two services,
NASA1 of Maersk and ZIAS of Zim, connect the East
Coast North America to the East Coast South America
through Kingston. None connect the East Coast North
America to the West Coast South America. Finally, at
the regional level, Kingston is well connected to ports
throughout the Southern Caribbean Basin but not as well
connected to northern ports of the Basin in Mexico and
the US Gulf.
The dierent levels of service by dierent carriers indi-
cate that not all carriers can use Kingston as a transship-
ment centre in the same way. For Maersk, Zim and
CMA CGM there is opportunity to use Kingston as a
Fig. 2. Deviation paths from/to Kingston and major shipping routes in the Caribbean Basin and Atlantic Ocean.
R.J. McCalla / Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190 187
hub-and spoke mainlinefeeder transshipment centre, a
relay centre, and an interline centre. At the other end of
the spectrum, CFS just uses Kingston as a feeder hub for
mainline carriers. No services oer feederfeeder transship-
ment at Kingston.
What of centrality and intermediacy in these services?
The inuence of centrality, especially foreland centrality,
is seen in the regional services to/from ports in Central
America, the North Coast of South America and the East-
ern Caribbean Islands. The fact, though, that there are rel-
atively few services linking the East Coast North America
to East Coast South America through Kingston points to
the oset position, the lack of centrality, of Kingston to
these areas. Given Kingstons equidistant position between
East Coast North America and West Coast South America
it is surprising to see such little use of Kingston as a link in
services to/from these areas. In fact, Kingston features very
little in any services to/from the West Coast of South
America. This may be an opportunity for shipping lines
to use Kingston more as a transshipment centre.
The inuence of intermediacy is seen in the use of Kings-
ton on global EastWest services. As was shown previously
Kingston is not equidistant between Europe and Asia or
between the East Coast North America and Asia, but it
is very close to the shipping lanes using the Panama Canal
that service these areas; hence its attractiveness as a trans-
shipment port for hub and spoke feedering, relay and inter-
line transfers. But it is not unique in this regard. The rival
ports of Caucedo (Santo Domingo), Colon, and Cartagena
can all make the claim of intermediacy on these routes with
Table 6
Container Shipping Services to/from Kingston, July 2006
Service Operated by Areas served
Global (14)
Oceania Pendulum Maersk and HLCL NEur, ECNA, K, Pan, Aust, NZ
AsiaCaribbean Maersk EAsia, Pan, K
Andean Maersk Med, NEur, K, Pan, WCSA
ZCS/AAE3 Zim and CSCL Med, ECNA, K, Pan, WCNA, EAsia
AUX Zim and Evergreen EAsia, Pan, K, ECNA
AGE Zim and Emirates EAsia, Pan, K, USGC
RTW (westbound) Zim and CSAV Norasia EAsia, India, MidEast, Med, NEur, ECNA, K, Pan, WCNA
Hemispheric (6)
NASA1 (northbound) Maersk ECSA, K, ECNA
PhilaCaribbean Seaboard ECNA, F, EC, K
Regional (17)
VenGulf Maersk USGC, Mex, CA, K, NCSA, K
Cuba Feeder Maersk K, Cuba
Trinidad Feeder Maersk K, Trinidad, NCSA
San Juan Feeder Maersk K, San Juan, Dom Rep
CaribGulf Zim K, USGC
GuyanaSuriname Zim K, NCSA
Cuba Shuttle CMA CGM K, Cuba
Eurosal Feeder CMA CGM and CSAV K, CA
MiamiEastern Caribbean Seaboard F, EC, NCSA, K
MiamiJamaica Seaboard F, K
KingstonCA CFS K, CA (North)
KingstonNCSACA CFS K, NCSA, CA (South)
KVen CFS K, Venezuela
KEC CFS K, Trinidad, Barbados
KPRHispanola CFS K, Puerto Rico, Dom Rep, Haiti
Source: Internet web sites of the shipping companies, Containerisation International Yearbook and Port Authority of Jamaica. See Fig. 3 for area
188 R.J. McCalla / Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190
Colon having the best case given that ships using the Pan-
ama Canal pass right through Colon. However, as a trans-
shipment centre for the Caribbean both Colon and
Cartagena lack centrality. Caucedo has both the intermedi-
acy and centrality characteristics of Kingston, but it is not
as well established as Kingston (McCalla et al., 2005).
However, the fact that Hapag-Lloyd recently transferred
services from Kingston to Caucedo indicates the competi-
tive position of Caucedo.
In sum, both centrality and intermediacy play a role in
explaining Kingston as a transshipment centre for shipping
4. Conclusion
Transshipment is of growing importance in the con-
tainer shipping world. Ports want to be transshipment cen-
tres or hubs in the distribution of containers. However, not
all ports can fulll this role to the same degree. Many fac-
tors are at play to determine the worth of a port as a trans-
shipment hub. In the context of this paper the controlling
factor is the ports relative location, not its site characteris-
tics. But relative location is multi-facetted. As the paper
has pointed out, it has two major dimensions: centrality
and intermediacy. Ideally, transshipment ports need to be
both central to the market they serve, both in terms of hin-
terland and foreland, and intermediate to the shipping
lanes linking markets. Situation is also sensitive to scale.
Both centrality and intermediacy vary according to the
scale at which they are examined. Major transshipment
ports have strong situational characteristics regardless of
This paper has examined Kingston, Jamaica primarily in
terms of its geographical situation. Centrality exists at the
regional and hemispheric level, but is lacking at the global
one. Intermediacy exists primarily to shipping focused on
the Panama Canal.
Shipping lines use Kingston as a transshipment hub for
shipping activities at all three geographical scales, but par-
ticularly involving the linkage of global and regional ship-
ping. At the global level lines use Kingston for hub and
spoke transshipment, for relay transshipment and interlin-
ing, but primarily for hub and spoke activity involving East
Asian and East Coast North American trades which use
the Panama Canal. The lines are trading on Kingstons
high intermediacy situation. There is limited hemispheric
activity involving Kingston and what there is links East
Coast North America to Eastern Caribbean Islands and/
or East Coast South America. Centrality would be more
of a factor in explaining these trades than intermediacy
especially services involving the Eastern Caribbean.
Finally, Kingston does serve as a regional hub for feeder
services to all corners of the Caribbean Basin but especially
to/from Central America, North Coast of South America
and Eastern Caribbean Islands. Both centrality and inter-
mediacy can account for these strong trading connections.
Fig. 3. Container shipping services at Kingston, 2006.
R.J. McCalla / Journal of Transport Geography 16 (2008) 182190 189
Appreciation is extended to the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council of Canada who provided
nancial assistance for a site visit to Kingston. I would also
like to thank the stimulating comments by the reviewers
who helped me focus my own thinking on centrality and
intermediacy as key concepts in port location.
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