Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Shipping Minister Names Container Vessel at London Gateway Port with Brexit Never Far Away

German Owned Box Line Christens Ship in the UK for First Time in Two Decades
Shipping News Feature
UK – WORLDWIDE – DP World's port London Gateway saw the Christening of one of container line Hapag-Lloyd's latest vessels this week, with the honour of naming the new ship, Afif, going to the UK’s shipping minister, Nusrat Ghani, who took just one (mechanically operated) swing of the champagne bottle to complete the task. The 15,000 TEU vessel joins a fleet of over 220 box carriers run by the German owned group.

The name Afif is of Arabic origin and means ‘purity’ and ‘honesty’ as well as being a city in central Saudi Arabia. With its ten sisters, Afif belongs to the category of Ultra Large Container Carrier (ULCC), the second-largest ship class in the Hapag-Lloyd fleet. Anthony J. Firmin, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hapag-Lloyd, with an obvious reference to Brexit, commented:

“We are happy to once again name a ship in the United Kingdom after twenty years. Afif is more than three times the size of the London Express, named in Southampton in 1998. Two decades on, we are extremely proud to be naming another new vessel and grateful to the UK’s shipping minister for undertaking this traditional ritual.

“You can always rely on our presence here in Great Britain, working with partners like DP World to enable and facilitate trade between the UK and all international markets. And we’re delighted to welcome Afif to our fleet of vessels to deliver international trade.”

The Afif was built for the United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) in 2017, with whom Hapag-Lloyd merged in May of the same year. The ship is 385.5 metres long and 51 metres wide. In addition to that, the Afif is one of Hapag-Lloyd’s 17 LNG-ready ships, which are equipped with the technology to use liquid gas (LNG) as fuel. The ship was built by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries in South Korea.

Hapag-Lloyd operates or has cargo on 11 services into and out of DP World London Gateway from the Far East, South America, Australia, the USA, Pakistan, India, South Africa and the Caribbean and the Afif sails on the FE4 service, also known as Far East Loop. DP World London Gateway links the UK to more than 100 ports in over 60 different countries, offering Hapag-Lloyd AG the ability to connect with markets and customers all over the world.

Chris Lewis, CEO, DP World London Gateway said said how proud he was the port had been chosen for the naming ceremony and stressed how it cemented the strong relationship between port and shipping line. Nusrat Ghani, Transport Minister, said at the ceremony:

“Shipping is key to the UK, enabling trade right across the world and helping deliver food to our cupboards and energy for our homes. It’s an honour to name Afif, Hapag-Lloyd’s latest container ship, as it will have a vital role in the growth of the UK economy by moving our exports and imports. Hapag-Lloyd, by naming its ship in the UK, shows it has great confidence the country will exploit new opportunities that arise from Brexit.”

Photo: Courtesy of Nick Strugnell.