Mar 28, 2015

Maersk orders seven boxships from COSCO Shipyard

Maersk Line announced on March 26 it has ordered seven 3,600-TEU ice-class containerships from China's COSCO Shipyard Group. The ships are for delivery to Seago Line, its fully-owned shipping subsidiary operating in Europe. They will be deployed in the Baltic and North Sea regions, beginning in 2017. The vessels will sail on marine gas oil (MGO) to meet the tightened emission limits which were put into force in the regions in January 2015. Soren Toft, COO of Maersk Line, said in a press release, "We expect to place additional orders during 2015."

Seago Line offers short-sea container services in Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. It currently operates 67 ships ranging in capacity from 375 TEUs to 3,000 TEUs with a combined capacity of 133,000 TEUs.

The ordered newbuildings, measuring 300 meters in overall length, 35.2 meters in width and 10 meters in draft, will be the biggest boxships for Seago Line. They are more than twice as big as the ones it runs now. Maersk said that the vessels, built to trade in Northern Europe through sea ice, will provide competitive services even in the winter. The seven vessels will be delivered between April and November 2017. The order carries an option for two additional vessels to be declared within eight months. On Jan. 1, 2015, Northern European waters and the Baltic Sea were designated as the emission control area (ECA), where ships are obliged to use fuel with less than 0.1% sulfur content. Seago Line's ships will primarily use MGO instead of conventional fuel oil to clear the rules.

This is the first time that Maersk has placed a newbuilding order with COSCO Shipyard. It is also the first time the yard will be building boxships. However, Maersk has used the yard for vessel retrofits and dry docking in the past. Toft said, "I am very confident that COSCO Shipyard, with their solid shipbuilding experience and a good track record, will deliver high quality and fuel efficient vessels."

For Maersk, the latest deal is the first since 2014 when it ordered 20 18,000-TEU vessels. Soren Skou, CEO of Maersk Line, had bared a policy to resume newbuilding investment in 2015 when he spoke at Capital Market Day held in Copenhagen in September 2014. He said at the time that up to $3 billion will be invested between 2015 and 2019 to get delivery of 425,000 TEUs of bottoms between 2017 and 2019. He added the sum will involve the procurement of containers and IT equipment and retrofitting of existing ships. The ships for Seago Line came as the first batch of the investment scheme. Market sources said Maersk is now discussing plans to order 10 mega boxships ranging in capacity from 18,000 TEUs to 20,000 TEUs.

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