The French Line CMA CGM will join this week’s container ship order wave and commit to buying up to six further 16,000 teu container vessels.
At the occasions of the recent christenings of CMA CGM ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT at Hamburg and CMA CGM JULES VERNE at Marseilles, the group’s founder and chief executive Jacques Saade already hinted at an imminent order and the French carrier now appears to go ahead with it.
CMA CGM will place firm orders for three 16,000 teu ships at South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries. In addition, CMA CGM is looking at a further three ships of similar size, also to be built at Samsung. The initial trio is slated for delivery in the first half of 2015 and the additional ships would come on stream later that year.
The choice of the yard is believed to be linked to an earlier order that Hamburg’s non-operating owner Claus Petter Offen placed on behalf of CMA CGM as far back as 2007.
In the second half of that year, Offen and CMA CGM jointly ordered a series of five 12,562 teu neo-panamax ships at Samsung. Offen would manage and own the first two ships of the series, financed through the then still active German KG-market, and charter them to CMA CGM on a long term basis. The remaining three ships of the series on the other hand were to be owned and managed by CMA CGM itself.
While details of the arrangement have never been disclosed, it is believed that Offen would have been responsible for the planning and supervision of the entire quintet and hand units three, four and five over to CMA CGM in ready-to-sail condition.
That arrangement collapsed in the wake of the economic crisis and the subsequent slump in global trade. CMA CGM later wanted to defer the last three ships of the series for several years and at the same time upgrade the orders from 12,562 teu to 16,000 teu. Apparently though, Offen and the French Line could not reach an agreement on how to resolve the contractual construction under which the Germans were to supervise the vessels during construction.
While the charter units one and two were eventually delivered in 2011 as CMA CGM ALASKA and CMA CGM NEVADA, the remaining three ships, to be named CMA CGM CALIFORNIA, CMA CGM COLORADO and CMA CGM MONTANA, were never built. The three ships were never offically cancelled though and they lingered in the CMA CGM’s vessel pipeline with an uncertain status.
The French Line’s order at Samsung now suggests that the dispute with Offen has been settled and that CMA CGM will finally bring the three orders back from the realms of the undead. As of 2015, the ships will add to CMA CGM’s Daewoo-built trio of 16,020 teu vessels.