Maersk Line has apparently decided to transfer at least eight 6,500 teu post panamax container ships to the United States’ ship register in order to boost the capacity of its US-flagged Middle East to USEC service MECL1. The ships are destined to replace panamax units of about 4,800 teu.
The MECL1 is one of the services on which the Danish carrier offers transport under the US flag, which allows the line to carry certain cargoes which have flag requrements such as for example US military supplies.
Maersk Line’s weekly MECL1 service trades along the following 49-day rotation with a fleet of seven panamax vessels:
Nhava Sheva, Salalah, New York, Charleston, Norfolk, New York, Jebel Ali, Port Qasim, Pipavav*, Nhava Sheva (*Mundra is to be replaced by Pipavav shortly)
The carrier does not only plan a capacity upgrade, but also to stretch the rotation with additional calls in Algeciras West Bound, as well as Savannah. This will take the round-trip duration from 49 to 56 days.
The move also means that the present fleet of seven panamaxes faces an uncertain future, as such ships become increasingly difficult to employ due to their size and inherent design disadvantages.
Maersk Line’s reflagging program will look as follows:
MAERSK KUANTAN (SIN) to be renamed MAERSK CHICAGO (USA)
MAERSK KENDAL (GBR) to be renamed MAERSK DENVER (USA)
SAFMARINE KARIBA (GBR) to be renamed MAERSK DETROIT (USA)
MAERSK KWANGYANG (SIN) to be renamed MAERSK MEMPHIS (USA)
MAERSK KUSHIRO (SIN) to be renamed MAERSK COLUMBUS (USA)
SAFMARINE KOMATI (GBR) to be renamed MAERSK PITTSBURG (USA)
MAERSK KELSO (GBR) to be renamed MAERSK HARTFORD (USA)
MAERSK KOWLOON (SIN) to be renamed MAERSK ATLANTA (USA)
The vessels are part of a ten-ship series of 6,477 teu ships built by Hanjin Heavy Industries of South Korea between 2006 and 2008. They are 299.90m long and 40.00m wide.