China Shipping Container Lines plans to order five 18,000 20-foot-equivalent unit container ships, the world’s largest, becoming the first carrier to challenge Maersk Line, which will deploy the first vessel of this size in the Asia-Europe trade in June.
The new vessels, to be built in South Korea, will raise the Chinese ocean carrier’s “core competitiveness,” CSCL said in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange over the weekend.
Hong Kong-based CSCL, the world’s ninth-largest carrier, said, “Further details will be disclosed after a firm contract is signed.”
Three Korean yards — Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering — have submitted bids, and the victor is expected to be announced in May.
Daewoo is building 20 18,000-TEU Triple E vessels for Maersk at a cost of around $190 million each with the first due to begin operations on the Asia-Europe route in late June.
Ship prices have fallen sharply since Maersk placed its first Triple E order in early 2011, and CSCL could pay around $140 million for similar vessels today. The CSCL ships will almost certainly operate in the Asia-Europe trade.
There are reports that United Arab Shipping Company is mulling an order for 18,000 TEUs vessels, also for the Asia-Europe route, where it partners CSCL.