Larger Ships Enhancing Ocean Carrier’s Fleet
The arrival of Madrid Maersk at the Chinese port of Tianjin on April 27 marked the first of 27 ships that will join Maersk Line’s fleet this year and next, including eleven second generation Triple-E vessels. The even came four years after the arrival of the first Triple-E vessel, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller.
Maersk Line will begin taking delivery this year of a variety of container vessels to replace older ships, most of them on the large end of the scale.
“Our strategy is to grow in line with our main competitors and we do that through a combination of buying new and used ships, and chartering vessels” said Søren Toft, chief operating officer of Maersk Line. “These new vessels help modernize our fleet, significantly improve our operational efficiency and will help us achieve our growth ambitions, regardless of short-term economic cycles.”
Maersk Line’s head haul utilization rate hit an average of 93 percent in 2016, leaving little room for growth without additional capacity. While overcapacity remains a problem for the container shipping industry, the 27 new vessels coming into Maersk Line’s fleet represent 11 percent of Maersk Line’s current fleet.
“We are expecting to grow this year, and expecting global growth of about three percent,” said Toft, “but if those things don’t happen we also have a powerful ability to adjust our network to changing conditions in a way that many other shipping lines do not have.”
It is what Maersk Line calls active capacity management and it includes tools like recycling old ships and idling unneeded ones to help match supply with demand. The company has also delayed the second order of the 15,226 TEU H-Class ships by six months.
The second generation Triple-E’s capacity is 20,658 TEU, nearly 2,000 more than the prior generation. But it manages this within a vessel body of nearly identical size. As a result, the second generation is seven percent more efficient than the Triple-E.
The new H-Class vessels have a nominal capacity of 15,226 TEU and are able to carry nearly the same number of containers as the original design of the Emma class in a body that is 46 meters shorter.
“Global growth may pick up this year or not, but these are factors we can’t control,” says Toft. “What we can control is our position as the market leader and cost leader and we strengthen both of those with these new vessels, while continuing to actively manage and optimize our network, improve our utilization and drive down our costs.”
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OCEAN LOGISTICS: CARRIERS