Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Major Moves in Container Shipping Line Businesses This Week

More and Bigger Ships Ordered and Delivered Whilst Partnership Finalised
Shipping News Feature

SWITZERLAND – SOUTH KOREA – FRANCE – WORLDWIDE – Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has taken delivery of the MSC Oliver, the second in its series of twenty 19,224 TEU container ships, the joint current holders of the title of the world’s largest vessels in terms of capacity, though how long that sticks remains to be seen as rival line CMA CGM becomes the latest group to join the race for the first 20,000+ TEU Ultra-Large Carriers.

MSC Oliver was inaugurated at the DSME shipyard in Busan, South Korea, just two months after the delivery of MSC Oscar, marking the second of a total of twenty mega-vessels which are scheduled for delivery by the end of the year. Oliver will join Oscar later this week on the Albatross Service which operates between Asia-Europe.

In inaugurating the vessel, it was the turn this time of Oscar Aponte’s cousin, Oliver Vago, both grandchildren of MSC’s founder Gianluigi Aponte, to break the traditional bottle of champagne against the ship, in the presence of his father Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, who was representing both the Aponte family and MSC Group. Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Vago said:

“As these are the next generation of MSC container vessels it is fitting that they be named after the grandchildren of MSC founder, Gianluigi Aponte. Our children carry the promise of this family’s future and these ships, the promise of MSC’s destiny. MSC Oscar and MSC Oliver are ships in the same class – not only can they carry more containers but they are also greener and more fuel efficient than any other container ship we operate.”

Whilst MSC basks in the glory of operating the largest container ships, attentions turn to the future of the container freight industry as CMA CGM becomes the third, or possibly fourth, shipping line, to place an order for a series of 20,000+ TEU vessels. CMA CGM, which sits directly behind Maersk Line and MSC to be the world’s third biggest container shipping company, is finalising a deal with South Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries, for three 20,600 TEU vessels to be delivered in the third quarter of 2017, making them the largest vessels on order when the deal is finalised.

This week saw two more landmarks in the world of container shipping with K Line seeing the Millau Bridge, the first of five 14,000 TEU vessels ordered in 2013 from Imabari Shipbuilding’s Hiroshima Shipyard, delivered to the box carrier this week. Once again all five ships will see employment on the company’s NE2 Asia- Europe service whilst K Line has subsequently ordered five more similar sized vessels from Imabari for delivery in 2018.

Meanwhile the deal between Hamburg Süd and Compañía Chilena de Navegación Interoceánica S.A. (CCNI) has been put to bed with the German group formally taking over the container line activities of its partner, including the related general agency functions of Agunsa Agencias Universales S.A. (Agunsa) with headquarters in Valparaiso and Santiago de Chile, having satisfied all relevant antitrust authorities. The closing took place at the shipping line’s headquarters in the presence of management representatives from CCNI and Agunsa.

Hamburg Süd will continue to operate the CCNI container liner business under the CCNI brand name on the main trade routes between the West coast of South America, Asia, Europe and North America respectively.

Photo: K Line’s Millau Bridge under way (though we reckon it’s an artist’s impression).