American Feeder Lines, which is seeking financing for a U.S.-flag coastal service, said it will launch weekly container ship service this spring between Halifax and the U.S. ports of Boston and Portland, Maine.
The planned service will follow the route of the former Yankee Clipper feeder service that carried containers for Hapag-Lloyd. AFL said the first sailing of the new service is expected in the second half of this year's second quarter.
The launch date will depend on when a vessel can be chartered and put into operation, the company said.
AFL sees the new service as the forerunner for its more ambitious plan to build 10 container ships, each with nominal capacities of 1,300 20-foot-equivalent units, for domestic routes along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Company officials are trying to line up some $750 million debt and equity financing to start the service. The U.S.-built ships would cost an estimated $70 million apiece.
Andrew Haines, formerly with Hanjin Shipping, has joined AFL as vice president, line management, based in Boston.
Rudy Mack, AFL's chief operating officer, said that when he was CEO of Hapag-Lloyd's North American operations, the Yankee Clipper shuttle between New England and Halifax "gave us the competitive edge for the business in the region."
Portland's port facilities have been idle since the Yankee Clipper service was discontinued several years ago. AFL officials said major customers in the area include newsprint and paper manufacturers that export most of their 5 million tons of annual production.
Percy Pyne IV, AFL's chairman and co-founder, said AFL's new service has commitments from shippers and receivers. "We have spent a lot of time with the ports and the industry stakeholders in New England," he said "Our research showed that importers and exporters in the region are disadvantaged, as there is a lack of all-water services serving the region."
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