Construction on the first of a string of 10 small container ships could begin as early as April, but officials with American Feeder Lines said Wednesday they were still looking for financial backing before they launch short-sea container service on the Atlantic coast.
If successful, AFL could become the first major player on the American marine highways. According to Percy R. Pyne IV, chairman and founding partner of AFL, the U.S. has the longest coastline in the world without coastwise shipping for moving domestic cargo and international containers. AFL expects to replicate the kind of shipping services that operate in virtually every other major maritime country.
Short-sea news from JOC:
Reeve and Associates on Marine Highways.
To launch the venture, Pyne said the company intends to raise $750 million. He predicted the company should be in the black within two years. However, Tobias Koenig, Pyne’s partner, said that finding financial support has been difficult because banks and venture capitalists in the U.S. are reluctant to risk money on an unproven business model.
Pyne said the company plans to build 10 1,300 TEU containerships at about $70 million each at two yards, Aker Philadelphia Shipyard and Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
AFL plans to build its business base by focusing on traffic in heavy containers, refrigerated containers, and containers of dangerous goods, a classification that includes a broad range of petrochemical products. All told, they plan to have enough capacity for 1.2 million domestic containers per year in a potential market of 100 million.
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