By increasing the number of containers it can move in one go, the company can make savings – particularly on fuel, which is a huge expense and a significant pollution factor.
But isn’t launching the Triple-E – the world’s largest ship – a risky endeavour at a time when the global economy is weak and the number of container vessels can exceed the volume of cargo that needs shipping? Not quite, if the seaborne freight business remains depressed, the carrier can cut capacity elsewhere, ensuring that its fleet only grows in line with the market.
Managing capacity around the world
Maersk Line operates more than 100 trades, as they are known in the shipping business, calling at ports in almost every country around the world. More than 600 vessels sail trades worldwide, around 200 of which are owned by Maersk Line with the remainder chartered from leasing partners.
The company keeps a close watch on each trade, managing the network to track which routes are growing and which are shrinking. Vessel deployment (supply) is adjusted according to the cargo that needs transporting (demand) – ensuring that Maersk’s service is both cost efficient and environmentally conscious.
When Maersk introduces the Triple-E ships on the Asia-Northern Europe loop (AE10), they will replace other vessels which will then be deployed on another trade – where they, in turn, will replace other vessels. This process is called cascading.
Sometimes cascading leaves Maersk with vessels that are surplus to its needs. If these are chartered ships, they are generally returned to their owners. If they belong to Maersk’s own fleet, they can be sold or let to other operators, laid up for future use or recycled if they are not up to current fleet standards.
Ultimately the decision depends on a ship’s capacity, efficiency, years of service and environmental performance; in a nutshell, Maersk replaces older vessels with newer, more efficient ones. Introducing new vessels contributes to the renewal of the fleet, which is good news for customers and the environment.
The state-of-the-art Triple-E, however, will be riding the ocean waves for some time to come – the company expects it to remain in service for the next 25 to 30 years.
The first Triple-E vessel is due in June 2013 and will transport cargo on the highly competitive Asia-Europe route to more than a dozen ports in a loop between Asia and Northern Europe, the busiest container trade in the world.
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- Maersk Line will take delivery of the first five (of 20) Triple-E vessels in 2013, deploying them on the Asia-Europe (AE10) route
- The AE10 connects Asia to Northern Europe via the Suez Canal. The ports on that route currently are: Busan (from April 2013) and Kwangyang (South Korea); Hong Kong, Ningbo, Shanghai and Yantian (China); Singapore; Tanjung Pelepas Malaysia); Port Tangiers (Morocco); Rotterdam (the Netherlands); Bremerhaven (Germany); Gdansk (Poland); Aarhus (Denmark); and Gothenburg (Sweden)
- Maersk has the largest market share of any container shipping line on the Asia-Europe route, moving 20 per cent of the container cargo from Asia to Europe and 18 per cent in the opposite direction
- The Asia-Europe route is Maersk Line’s busiest. It makes up one quarter of Maersk Line business and is worth several billion US dollars