Only a few months after the launch of its new standalone Asia to ECSA service ‘Ipanema’, the Mediterranean Shipping Company will begin to boost the service’s capacity with the phase-in of a number 7,500 teu ships. The Swiss-Italian carrier thus adds to the growing pressure on this trade lane, which already experienced massive capacity increases this year.
MSC had launched its new Asia to ECSA service in mid-April, initially deploying ships as small as 2,700 teu on the 11-week round trip. The service then mostly relied on cheaply chartered panamax tonnage and older post-panamax ships. The eclectic vessel mix consisted both MSC-owned vessels and spot-market ships.
More recently however, the tonnage-hungry carrier has sub-chartered numerous large container vessels in the 7,500 to 8,500 teu size range from competing operators. At least three of these are soon to be deployed to the ‘Ipanema’. Starting in early July, MSC will phase the 7,490 teu sisters COSCO SHENZHEN, COSCO YOKOHAMA and COSCO SEATTLE into the ‘Ipanema’ service under the new names MSC SHENZHEN, MSC YOKOHAMA and MSC SEATTLE.
The three 2004-built vessels will soon enter the final year fo their respective initial ten-year charters from Hamburg-based non-operating owner E.R. Schiffahrt to Coscon and MSC is believed to have sublet them for the remaining period of their charters.
Given the high number of 9,000 teu compact wide-beam units that MSC is yet to receive, it does seem very likely that further large ships will soon join the ‘Ipanema’. This must not necessarily include 9,000 teu newbuildings, but it may very well include large ships replaced by newbuildings and then to be cascaded down into the new Asia to ECSA loop.