Maersk Introduces Ships Designed for West Africa

Maersk Introduces Ships Designed for West Africa

Maersk Line is taking delivery of the first of a series of 22 container ships called Wafmax that are specifically designed for the limitations of the West African market.

The first of the series, which have a capacity of 4,500 20-foot equivalent units, was named the Maersk Conakry on Monday in a ceremony at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea.

Named after the capital of Guinea, the ship Maersk Conakry and its 21 stablemates on order from Hyundai will be the largest container ships able to call West Africa.

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Maersk Line said the ships are also the most fuel-efficient, using 30 percent less fuel per container moved than the industry average on the Asia-Africa trade.

The new ships will serve a market that has been served entirely by small feeder vessels operating from hubs like Algeciras, Spain.

The Danish carrier said the 4,500-TEU Wafmax vessels are specifically designed to provide its Asian customers with direct services to West African ports.

The ships will be 820 feet long with a draft of 44 feet, the maximum size allowable in West African ports. Some of the vessels will be “geared” with onboard cranes (so-called to enable calls at ports without standing cranes. Each ship will be equipped with 150 reefer plugs.

Maersk said it designed the Wafmax series to cement its position in the African market. The growth of the African market, combined with physical infrastructure not developing at the same speed, has created a demand for ships with special designs that are able to match the maximum capacity of the ports.

-- Contact Peter T. Leach at pleach@joc.com.