Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rickmers Look To The Future Of Shipping With New Container Vessels

Ship Naming As German Group Looks for Recovery
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH KOREA – GERMANY –SINGAPORE - Less than a month since Rickmers Maritime reportedly received a five year extension from their lenders to repay a $130 million loan facility, the Rickmers Group have christened four containerships, all bound for the Maersk fleet. Singapore shipping trust Rickmers Maritime, is a partially owned subsidiary of the German based Rickmers Group and was recently released from commitments to buy seven ships from another group company, Polaris Ship Management.

Reneging on that deal apparently cost the trust $64 million but now the four new ships, constructed by Hanjin Heavy Industries at their Ulsan, South Korea yards, together with four more due by 2011, again on ten year charters to Maersk with further options, will be managed by Rickmers Shipmanagement (Singapore) Pte Ltd, which is the Rickmers Group ships management company set up between Rickmers Maritime and Polaris.

This brings the Rickmers Shipmanagement (Singapore) fleet to 27 vessels, mostly Panamax class container carriers and including the latest four 13,100TEU ships. Rickmers Group counts 107 vessels in total in its fleet, 78 of which are being managed by Rickmers Reederei in Hamburg.

Statistics for the new ships christened Pearl Rickmers, Ruby Rickmers, Aqua Rickmers and Coconee Rickmers at a ceremony in the yards on Friday before they are renamed Maersk Edinburgh, Maersk Emden, Maersk Eindhoven and Maersk Essen, are impressive. Each of the ultra large container ships (ULCS) can carry up to 13,100 TEU stacked 17-wide below deck and 19-wide on the hatchcovers with reefer plugs for 800 x 40 foot boxes.

The ships will be delivered one by one during July and August 2010, and phase in to Maersk’s new joint service with CMA CGM linking Asia and North Europe. As Maersk’s AE8 service, it will deploy ten ships of this size, each partner contributing five. The port rotation will be:

Ningbo – Shanghai – Yantian - Tanjung Pelepas - Port Kelang - Le Havre - Hamburg – Rotterdam – Zeebrugge - Port Kelang – Singapore - Ningbo.

At the naming ceremony Mr Bertram R C Rickmers, Chairman of Rickmers Holdings said:

“With volumes out of Asia again starting to rise and rates holding, container lines’ confidence is growing. Given this scenario, the timing of the delivery of these Rickmers Group ships is looking much better than it might have done six to twelve months ago.

“With two more sister ships coming in January and February 2011, a seventh at the end of May and the eighth and final ship in the series due for delivery in July 2011, we need the global economy to continue this positive trend. We wish our charterers Maersk Line well in their efforts to maintain a stable market. Too often we have seen container rates tumble despite strong volumes. No one needs this to happen again, even the shippers who provide the cargo.

“The eight vessels are ideally suited for the current market, which is demanding the largest possible ships in order to reduce the cost per container carried. Although built to operate at over 24 knots, the ships are equally capable of slow steaming. This is an important requirement today and in the months and years to come.

“These ships will also be capable of transiting the Panama Canal following completion of ongoing expansion work. Larger locks and dredging will open up an important additional trade lane for so-called New Panamax (NPX) container ships from Asia to the US East Coast.”

He added that if it were possible to load all 13,100TEU one of the new ships can carry onto a single train, the train would be approximately 100km long. Put another way, the locomotive would arrive in Kiel on the Baltic coast of Germany before the last railcar had left Rickmer’s home city of Hamburg.