An undisclosed owner at the end of last week placed firm orders for three ultra large container ships with the Chinese CSSC Shipyard group.
Though not officially confirmed, the orders are believed to have been placed by the Hong Kong-based CSSC Shipping, the recently established ship leasing branch of China’s CSSC shipbuilding group. The vessels are said to be earmarked for long-term bare boat charters to the French Line CMA CGM.
Two of the ships will be built at Jiangnan Changxing Shipyard, whereas the third unit is to be constructed at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipyard. Both yards are part of the CSSC group and they are actually located within a few kilometres from each other on the outskirts of Shanghai.
The vessels are scheduled to come on stream in 2015, with estimated delivery dates in September, November and December of that year.
The deal is part of CMA CGM’s efforts to increase its fleet of 16,000+ teu super jumbo vessels from three units to nine. In addition to the three vessels from CSSC, the Marseilles-based carrier is also believed to have firmed-up in July three 16,000 teu vessels at South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries.
CSSC did not disclose any technical specifications of the planned vessel trio, but it seems reasonable to assume that the ships will be built to a design developed by the Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute. This vessel design bureau, better known by its acronym SDARI, is a subsidiary of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), which is the second large state-owned shipyard group in China next to CSSC.
Of note, the super jumbo design that SDARI has been marketing for some years proposes somewhat larger ships than the vessels that CMA CGM ordered in Korea. With a length of 399.00m and a beam of 56.40m (22 rows), the ships are actually one row wider than the DSME-built CMA CGM MARCO POLO types and the similarly sized Samsung 16,000 teu design. At 16,872 teu, the SDARI ships have a container intake that is 800 teu greater than the capacity of the French Line’s present flagships.
Waigaoqiao Shipyard has not yet built any container vessel in the past. So far, the yard is a prolific builder of large tankers and bulk carriers. The CSSC group as a whole however does have extensive experience in building large container ships and it delivered vessels of up to 8,888 teu to various domestic and international owners. The largest container ship types so far built in China are Japanese-designed 10,020 teu and 13,368 teu Coscon series built by the Nantong Ocean Ship Engineering Company, a joint-venture of the Cosco and Kawasaki groups.
CSSC Shipping (Hong Kong) was established by the CSSC Group in June 2012. Its main businesses include ship leasing, ship trading and ship management. The purpose of the new vehicle is to increase the orderbook of CSSC yards in times of weak demand or when potential buyers need help with the funding of newbuildings.