STX shipbuilding very recently began cutting the steel for the first of six 16,000-teu container vessels, which the South Korean yard will build for Zodiac Maritime. The non-operating owner, linked to Israel’s Ofer group, will charter the vessels to MSC under long-term contracts. The first of the jumbo ships, hull number 1527, is to be delivered in September of 2014 and the series is scheduled for completion in December of 2015. Recently however, market rumors suggested that four of the ships could be deferred or even canceled. So far, this has not been officially confirmed.
The steel cutting for hull 1527 took place at STX Goseong, a block factory that STX acquired in 2011 from its subcontractor Hyucksin.
Like most of South Korea’s shipbuilding majors, STX does not build ships at a single yard. Instead, large hull sections – so called superblocks – are built at several locations in South Korea and even China, from where they are towed or barged to the main shipyards for assembly and outfitting. Typically, some of the block-building is outsourced to third-party companies, whereas many of the superblock factories are subsidiaries of big shipbuilders.
The Zodiac-MSC 16,000 teu vessels will be about 396m long and about 54m wide. They will be of similar dimensions as CMA CGM’s DSME-built 16,020 teu ships and slightly smaller than Maersk Line’s EEE class of 18,270 teu, also built by DSME.