Evergreen Line said it will charter 10 ships with capacities of 13,800 20-foot equivalent units.
The Taiwanese carrier signed a memorandum of agreement to lease the ships from Korea Infrastructure Investments Asset Management Co., a subsidiary of Korea Development Bank. The ships will be built by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries. Deliveries are set to begin in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Chang Yung-fa, Evergreen’s founder and chairman, has repeatedly stated his opposition to mega-ships, but the company said it is chartering the 13,800-TEU ships to coordinate the size of its vessels with those of alliance partners. The ships will be operated between Asia and Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Like other carriers, Evergreen has been stepping up its use of alliances to broaden coverage, increase sailing frequency and cut costs. Having similar-sized ships in joint services simplifies operations. Evergreen said that when the new ships are delivered, it will return chartered vessels to owners as charters expire.
Evergreen was the only top-tier line to hold off on new orders during the pre-recession boom but is taking advantage of reduced shipyard prices to modernize its fleet.
The newly announced charter deal follows recent orders for a total of 30 new ships with capacities of 8,800 TEUs.
Although Evergreen did not confirm the prices for the 13,800-TEU ships, they are reported to be about $115 million apiece, approximately one-third below the going rate for similar-sized ships a few years ago. The new ships also are expected to burn about 30 percent less fuel than comparable-sized ships ordered just two years ago.
“In the face of increasing pressure brought by high oil prices on shipping companies, these new vessels will significantly enhance Evergreen Line’s competitiveness,” the company said.
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