German shipowner Rickmers Group christened four container ships with nominal capacity of nearly 13,100 20-foot equivalent units Friday at a South Korean shipyard. The ships will join Maersk Line’s fleet on an Asia-Europe route operated jointly with CMA CGM.
Hyundai Heavy Industries’ shipyard in Ulsan built the ships, which are owned by Rickmers Group and chartered to Maersk for 10 years with optional extensions. Four sister ships are scheduled for delivery to Rickmers next year for charter to Maersk under similar terms.
All of the ships are of “New Panamax” design, the maximum size that will fit through the larger locks that the Panama Canal plans to open by 2015. The ships will have maximum drafts of nearly 48 feet, beams of 160 feet and length overall of 1,208 feet.
They will carry containers stowed 17 wide below deck and 19 wide on the hatch covers. The maximum capacity is 7,074 TEUs on deck and 6,018 TEUs below deck, for a total of 13,092 TEUs.
All ships’ nominal capacity is considerably higher than the number of boxes a vessel actually carries. Rickmers said that based on loaded container weights of 14 metric tons per TEU, the new ships’ maximum capacity would be approximately 9,080 TEUs.
The ships will have top speeds of 24.3 knots but are designed to operate efficiently at lower speeds and to fit through the larger locks the Panama Canal plans to complete by 2015.
The vessels were christened the Pearl Rickmers, Ruby Rickmers, Aqua Rickmers and Coconee Rickmers and will be renamed the Maersk Edinburgh, Maersk Emden, Maersk Eindhoven and Maersk Essen.
The ships will be managed by Rickmers Shipmanagement (Singapore), a Rickmers Group unit that will provide deck officers and chief engineers.
Bertram R.C. Rickmers, chairman of Rickmers Holding, said the ships’ deliveries reflect rising confidence in container shipping.
“With volumes out of Asia again starting to rise and rates holding, container lines’ confidence is growing. Given this scenario, the timing of the delivery of these Rickmers Group ships is looking much better than it might have done six to 12 months ago,” he said.
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