Jan 30, 2015

Evergreen to deploy 11 mega-boxships to Europe svc

Evergreen Line will deploy 11 ultra-large containerships in which each boasts a hauling capacity of 18,000 TEUs or more on the Asia-Europe route in 2018, according to newspapers and other overseas media. To this end, the Taiwanese shipping operator will charter 11 18,000-TEU ships on a long-term contract with Shoei Kisen Kaisha of Japan, which places newbuilding order to compatriot Imabari Shipbuilding. Currently, Evergreen operates 10 14,000-TEU boxships on the Asia-Europe route, all of which are also on long-term charter contracts, and in January last year, it placed an order for another 10. With the deployment of the 11 mega-containerships, it will further enhance its cost competitiveness and service network. When the newbuildings are all assigned in service, Evergreen will likely come back to the world's fourth-largest containership operator on a bottoms scale, overtaking Hapag-Lloyd of Germany.

In late December 2014, Evergreen unveiled at a meeting of its board of directors that it would run six 18,000-TEU chartered vessels on long-term contracts. Shipowner(s) which the operator would charter them from and shipyard(s) that will build them were said to be not decided at that time. However, Imabari Shipbuilding has been regarded as the promising yard for the construction. And it is realized as a result.

Having been in the process of renovating its fleet since 2010, Evergreen is now working to put in service 30 8,000-TEU and 20 14,000-TEU ships. A vast majority of the 8,000-TEU ships have already been deployed, hence, there are just a few left to be delivered to the operator. As for the 20 14,000-TEU vessels, the first 10 had been assigned to the Europe route by last year, all of which are on long-term charter from Greek shipowner Enesel, which is piloted by N.S. Lemos of the U.K. As it concerns the remaining 10 units, Evergreen announced in January 2014 that it would charter five each from Shoei Kisen and Greek owner Costamare. The operator plans to deploy the 10 units successively in 2016 and 2017. The aforementioned 11 18,000-TEU units will, therefore, turn another page of the project for constructing gigantic containerships that Evergreen is procuring from Japanese shipbuilders, following the five 14,000-TEU ships that Imabari Shipbuilding builds and Evergreen charters from Shoei Kisen.

Until 2014, Evergreen was the world's fourth-largest container shipping company in terms of tonnage capacity, after Maersk Line of Denmark, Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) of Switzerland and CMA-CGM of France. However, it has slipped down to fifth place since it was overtaken by Hapag-Lloyd last year which acquired Compania Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV) of Chile. According to statistics provided by French maritime consultant Alphaliner, Hapag-Lloyd, which has been in the fourth position now, has a fleet of 186 ships having a combined capacity of 982,312 TEUs, while Evergreen, the fifth-largest player, runs 195 boxships with a total capacity of 951,292 TEUs. However, the combined loading capacity of containerships the German liner has on order amounts to only 46,500 TEUs, while the Taiwanese operator's newbuildings on order will make a total of 360,000 TEUs, including those 11 18,000-TEU units. It is highly likely that Evergreen will regain the fourth seat, even though it will demolish existing ships and return those it is chartering from other owners, when the new vessels are placed in service.

In 2014, Evergreen joined the CKYH group, which was then made up of COSCO Container Lines (COSCON) of China, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) of Japan, Yang Ming Marine Transport (YMMT) of Taiwan and Hanjin Shipping of South Korea. The five members have now formed the CKYHE alliance. They first began cooperation on the Europe/Mediterranean route and have agreed to expand their partnership on the North America route this spring. So far, the new alliance's ultra-large containership acquisitions have focused on those of the 13,000- to 14,000-TEU classes. As such, Evergreen's newbuilding procurement plans will enable the CKYHE alliance to deploy gigantic boxships of 18,000 TEUs or bigger ones for the first time.

Two years ago, Maersk Line, ahead of other container lines, began deploying ultra-large ships that each of them has a capacity of 18,000 TEUs or more. The Danish shipping giant has so far ordered and put in service 20 18,000-TEU ships in total. Late last year, 19,000-TEU containerships, which have a slightly more container capacity than the ones of Maersk's, made their debut. China Shipping Containers Lines (CSCL) and MSC have begun operating those of the 19,000-TEU class. It is expected that this year, CMA-CGM and Middle Eastern carrier United Arab Shipping Co. (UASC) will follow suit. Furthermore, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) of Japan, which has decided to order a total of six 20,000-TEU container vessels from Imabari Shipbuilding and Samsung Heavy Industries of South Korea, intends to deploy them for the Europe service as early as 2017.

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