I am very pleased about this order for which we have taken a new approach. The vessels will be designed to operate in and perform efficiently across many trades and not just designed for one specific trade. They will help us stay competitive and make our fleet more flexible and efficient.
Maersk Line signed a new building contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in July to build nine vessels with a 14,000 TEU capacity and an option for up to eight additional vessels. The contract has a value of USD 1.1 billion and was signed by Mr. Sam H. Ka, Chief Operation Officer of HHI and Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer, Maersk Line.
“I am very pleased about this order for which we have taken a new approach,” says Søren Toft. “The vessels will be designed to operate in and perform efficiently across many trades and not just designed for one specific trade. They will help us stay competitive and make our fleet more flexible and efficient.”
Designing vessels with a flexible operational profile is a first for Maersk Line. By moving away from hulls designed with a certain speed and draft in mind, Maersk Line is strengthening its fleet with vessels which can be deployed on East-West or North-South trades where requirements differ, with no impact on fuel consumption.
Anticipating tricky trade patterns
According to Maersk Group Chief Economist, Graham Slack, trade flows are becoming less predictable after the financial crisis in 2008, making it harder for for shipping lines to plan which vessels will sail where in their globe-crossing vessel networks.
While China remains the global manufacturing centre, competitors like Mexico, Turkey and others are growing, meaning shipping lines must be prepared for new trade patterns.
“Suddenly, after 2008 and the financial crisis, there’s been a structural shift. We’re not growing at the same pace on these traditional East-West routes anymore, partly due to lower demand in US and Europe but also due to changes in offshoring and near-shoring of production to get closer to these end markets and to diversify supply-chains.”
The new vessels will be 353 metres long. They will join Maersk Line’s fleet in 2017 and sail under Singaporean flag.
This is the third new-building order in Maersk Line’s investment programme announced in September 2014. The order follows the seven 3,600 TEU feeder vessels and eleven 19,630 TEU Triple-E vessels announced earlier this year as part of Maersk Line’s USD 15 billion investment in new-buildings, retrofitting, containers and other equipment. Maersk Line will thus be able to acquire the capacity it needs, replace less efficient tonnage and increase its share of owned vessels.