CSCL orders 18,000 teu quintet in Korea

The China Shipping Container Line (CSCL) appears to become the first carrier to follow Denmark’s Maersk Line into the league of 18,000 teu jumbo vessels.

The Shanghai- and Hong Kong-listed company today issued a preliminary disclosure in which it revealed that its board has approved the placing of orders for five 18,000 teu container ships at an unnamed South Korean yard. CSCL stated that the orders will be placed through a Hong Kong subsidiary. The Chinese carrier went on to say that details are to be revealed soon.

It is not yet clear which of the South Korean shipyards secured the deal. Samsung, DSME and STX are known as yards that have designs for 18,000 teu vessels ready to order. Furthermore Hyundai should be able to build such vessels too – even through the group was not as aggressively marketing super jumbos as some of its compatriots.

The most interesting question will be whether CSCL will follow the Maersk Line approach and opt for a twin-engine twin-propeller design, or if the carrier has chosen a more conventional single-engine ship, such as the 399m long and 58m wide design that Samsung Heavy Industries, builder of most of CSCL’s large container ships, proposed to potential buyers two years ago.

Furthermore, one might wonder what CSCL plans to do with only five of the new super jumbos, as the carrier would need at least ten sister vessels to fully staff a weekly Asia-Europe mainline loop. A factor that might come into play here is UASC, which is also believed to be in the market for next generation jumbo vessels. The two carriers have increased their level of cooperation recently and they might consider a joint Asia-Europe service with ultra-large ships, should UASC decide to go forth with its fleet expansion plan.

Based on the price of Seaspan’s USD 600 million order for five 14,100 teu ships at Hyundai Heavy Industries in January, CSCL’s newbuildings are expected to cost in the region of USD 145 million per vessel. This would make them USD 45 million less expensive than Maersk Line’s EEE-class,ordered in February 2011.

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