London – Maersk Line formally announced a $1.9 billion order for 10 container ships with 18,000 TEUs on Monday, setting a new standard for scale in the shipping industry, and said it’s likely to order another 10 of the vessels for its global network.
The Danish carrier confirmed reports last week and told a London press conference it has signed options for 30 of the ships with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, potentially the world’s largest ever single shipbuilding order worth nearly $6 billion.
The first 10 vessels will be delivered to the world’s largest ocean carrier in 2013 and 2014 and will be deployed on Asia-Europe trade lanes.
Maersk CEO Eivind Kolding said the carrier likely will exercise options for 10 extra ships later this year but the option on the final 10 ships is “more of an open question.” The options expire at the end of 2011
Copenhagen-based Maersk classified the vessels “Triple-E” to signify economies of scale, energy efficiency and environmental performance.
Maersk ordered the ships “because we need more capacity” to keep pace with container traffic “which we expect to grow by 5 to 8 percent every year,” Kolding told the ews conference in London.
Maersk said the 1,312 feet long Triple-E ships, which can carry 2,500 TEUs more than the current largest vessel, the carrier’s 15,500-TEU Emma Maersk, will cut operating costs per container by 26 percent compared to the current largest vessels.
The vessels’ fuel consumption will be 50 percent below the industry average and 20 percent less than the Emma Maersk, the carrier said.
“We have increased capacity in the most cost-efficient manner,” Kolding said. “We’ve raised the bar again,” Kolding said. The Triple E ship “will be the largest ships you will see for some time.”
Kolding said the $190 million cost per ship is a “very very competitive price” as it includes $30 million extra investment in energy efficiency and environmental features.
The ships will be 35 percent more energy efficient that vessels being delivered to rival carriers in the next two to three years, Kolding said.
Kolding dismissed doubts over Maersk’s ability to fill the giant vessels with cargo.
Maersk has more than 100 ships on the Europe-Asia trade lanes, giving the carrier considerable flexibility to respond to fluctuations in traffic. If the trade dips, “we have opportunities to take out smaller ships and keep the Triple-Es fully utilized, “Kolding said.
Maersk said it is the largest carrier on the trade, with an 18 percent share of containers moving from Asia to Europe and 15 percent of boxes transported from Europe to
The Triple-E vessels will serve five Chinese ports – Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Yantian and Hong Kong “adding significant capacity to the vessel strings serving Asia-Europe and further Maersk Line’s dominance in the trade,” the carrier said.
The ships will also call at Maersk’s hub in Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia, to connect with Asian traffic and Port Said to cover the entire Eastern Mediterranean, Kolding said.
They “could” stop at Algeciras, Spain, to cover the western Mediterranean and Spain and France and “for sure” will call at Felixstowe, Rotterdam and Bremerhaven.