Subject to regulatory approval, the proposed P3 alliance – Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM – plans to restructure the three carriers’ east-west mainline services. The new joint network will lead to a consolidation of strings and to an up-sizing of the vessel fleet.
The P3 alliance’s Transatlantic pattern will consist of five dedicated weekly services: Three North Europe loops and two Med slings.
Additionally, one Suez-routed Asia to USEC service which performs way calls at Algeciras (WB) and Tanger Med (EB) is expected to serve partially as a Med to USEC loop.
One further Suez-routed Asia to USEC features underway calls at Haifa (WB and EB), but can be omitted from the count of actual Transatlantic services as Haifa is not a major hub and volumes are expected to be limited.
It has to be noted that the P3 agreement does not cover all Transatlantic activities of Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM.
Offerings such as dedicated India and Middle East to USEC loops, Panama-routed Europe to ANZ services with USEC coverage, as well as Canada-related services, remain outside the scope of the P3.
In many cases, such services are offered in partnership with third parties outside the ‘big three’.
On the mainlines however, the P3 alliance’s Transatlantic network of five loops will succeed a pattern of seven loops.
Nevertheless, the alliance is expected to increase its Transatlantic capacity by some 15%, as the partner carriers will phase many large ships into the consolidated service structure.
In 2014, many of today’s 4,000 to 6.750 teu vessels trading between Europe and North America for P3 member lines, will be replaced or supplemented by 8,500 teu units.
Many such ships have become available since the Asia-Europe trunk routes are being boosted to capacities of 13,000 to 16,000 teu per week, with numerous newbuilt ultra-large vessels.
The P3 Europe / Med – North America setup looks as follows:
Northern Europe to USEC and US Gulf
North Atlantic / Liberty Bridge / TA1
Bremerhaven, Felixstowe, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Le Havre, New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, New York, Bremerhaven
South Atlantic / Victory Bridge / TA2
Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Le Havre, Charleston, Freeport, Miami, Veracruz, Altamira, Miami, Savannah, Charleston, Antwerp
(MSC name) / Equality Bridge / TA3
Antwerp, Rotterdam, Felixstowe, Bremerhaven, Le Havre, New York, Charleston, Savannah, Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Freeport, Norfolk, Antwerp
Mediterranean to USEC and US Gulf
(MSC name) / Amerigo / TA5
Gioia Tauro, Naples, La Spezia, Genoa, Fos-sur-Mer, Valencia, Sines, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston, Valencia, Gioia Tauro
(MSC name) / Med-Gulf / TA6
Gioia Tauro, La Spezia, Genoa, Barcelona, Valencia, Sines, Freeport, Port Everglades, Veracruz, Altamira, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Freeport (Bah.), Sines, Algeciras, Barcelona, Gioia Tauro
Atlantic / Vespucci / (tbd) (as part of an Asia – USEC service with waycalls at the Gibraltar Strait hubs of Algeciras and Tanger)
(From Asia via Suez…), Valencia, Algeciras, New York, Savannah, Charleston, Tanger Med, Marsaxlokk, (…to Asia via Suez).
Maersk-Seago has chartered the ice classed 1,036 teu WES CARINA to deploy the vessel alongside the 1,368 SUDEROOG on a new Germany to Finland and Russia Baltic service.
The new loop operates on the rotation Bremerhaven, Gdansk, Ust-Luga, St Petersburg, Kotka, Bremerhaven.
It turns in 14 days and it offers weekly fixed-day departures.
Maersk-Seago’s recent modifications to the group’s Baltic Sea services have triggered further developments in the trade to this region.
Maersk and its intra-Europe sister company are about to change their services to the Baltic, and especially to St Petersburg, from a ‘summer pattern’ into a ‘winter pattern’. This move caters for seasonal fruit imports with improved direct links from citrus export countries and it takes into account the annual icing season, which requires some ports in the Baltic to be covered with ice-classed vessels.
In this respect, Maersk is to stop its ‘KNSM’ in favour of two direct Morocco-St Petersburg links. The carrier also cuts the Baltic leg from its ‘CRX’ in mid-October, as this service is not run with ice-classed ships.
In the wake of these changes, Maersk-Seago is to open a new Bremerhaven-based weekly Baltic Feeder to Kotka and St Petersburg. The new feeder will start operations on 16 October with the 1,404 teu ice-classed HEINRICH EHLER and a second yet to be nominated vessel on a 14-day roundtrip.
Maersk and its intra-Europe affiliate Seago Line will replace their weekly Scandinavia and Northern Europe to Morocco ‘KNSM’ service with two new weekly loops. Unlike the ‘KNSM’, which turns at the Swedish port of Helsingborg, the two successor loops, scheduled to take over in late October, will both extend further northeast to St Petersburg.
The capacity expansion and the service extension to St Petersburg are timed to coincide with the start of the trade’s winter citrus season. Both new services will offer weekly departures from Morocco’s main fruit export gateways Casablanca and Agadir.
The first service will turn in three weeks and offer an ‘express’ coverage with nonstop sailings from Morocco to Russia. The loop will trade along the following rotation: Casablanca, Agadir, Kiel Canal (way point), St Petersburg, Kiel Canal (way point), Rotterdam, Casablanca
The ice-classed 868 teu ‘Sietas 168’ type ANNA SIRKKA (234 reefer plugs) will be deployed, alongside a further two yet to be nominated ships.
The second new loop will turn in four weeks and will cover a somewhat higher number of ports. It will call at: Casablanca, Agadir, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Kiel Canal (way point), St Petersburg, Gdansk, Kiel Canal (way point), Bremerhaven, Antwerp, Casablanca.
The first ship to join the service will be the ice-classed 1,036 WES AMELIE. Three further ships are to be nominated soon.
All seven ships to be employed on the two new loops will feature ice class in order to maintain coverage of St Petersburg throughout the winter season.
In order to uphold the Sweden and Denmark coverage of the to-be-closed ‘KNSM’ service, a new Copenhagen and Helsingborg leg will be added to Maersk’s existing Bremerhaven-based Finland butterfly service, which therewith mutates into a triple-wing butterfly.
In its present form, the butterfly had been created in early September, when a Riga and Helsinki calls were added. With a fourth ship added, the service’s fleet now performs three alternating rotations ex Bremerhaven. A Russia-Finland wing, a Latvia-Finland wing, and a (new) Denmark-Sweden wing: Bremerhaven,St Petersburg, Rauma, Bremerhaven, Riga, Helsinki, Bremerhaven, Copenhagen, Helsingborg, Bremerhaven.
In addition to Maersk-Seago, CMA CGM has already boosted its Europe to Morocco coverage for the citrus season with the re-launch of its ‘Dunkrus’ service.
Maersk’s offer is however special, because of the Danish carrier’s direct links to St Petersburg.
Maersk Line’s 15,500 teu vessel EUGEN MAERSK, one of the Danish shipping line’s eight original Odense-built E-class units, is to launch the expected upgrade of Maersk’s Far East to Europe service ‘AE2’ to superjumbo scale.
Replaced on the ‘AE10’ by the increasing number of 18,270 teu EEE-class ships that phase into Maersk’s largest service, the 397m vessel will join the ‘AE2’ in late November at Busan.
As part of its European rotation – Le Havre, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Antwerp, Felixstowe – the EUGEN MAERSK will become the largest Maersk unit ever to visit Hamburg and the longest ship ever to sail up the 100 kilometre fairway of the Elbe River. Admittedly however, she will only ‘beat’ CMA CGM’s 16,020 teu vessels, which regularly visit the German main port, by as little as 170 centimetres.
Until recently the ‘AE2’ employed a fleet of eleven 8,400 teu ships on a 77-day roundtrip. Since July, the loop is receiving the vessel ‘overspill’ from the ‘AE10’, with ships of 13,000 teu and 15,500 teu to cascade down.
The north European container line and logistics group Samskip Multimodal on Wednesday announced the launch of a new weekly shortsea service between Rotterdam and the Norwegian West Coast. The loop, scheduled to begin sailing on 30 September, will call at Rotterdam, Tananger, Bergen and Alesund. Samskip will deploy the geared 518 teu vessel PIONEER BAY on the seven-day round trip.
Samskip noted that, in addition to the fixed set of ports, inducement calls at other Norwegian ports were possible.
The new loop will primarily compete with the services of Northsea Container Line, which deploys a fleet of six small mpp and container ships on various rotations between the northrange ports of Rotterdam, Hamburg and Bremerhaven and numerous small Norwegian ports.
Not only Denmark’s capital Copenhagen, but also the ports of Wilhelmshaven, Germany, and Felixstowe, UK, will see off-schedule calls by Maersk Line’s new 18,270 teu EEE-class vessel MAJESTIC MAERSK:
According to the carrier’s most recent schedule, the MAJESTIC MAERSK will sail straight to Copenhagen, where she is to be christened, from the Polish port of Gdansk.
In order to berth at the famous Langelinie Pier, where water depth is limited, the ship will discharge normally at Gdansk, but it will not load any eastbound containers.
After the Copenhagen visit, the jumbo vessel will sail directly to Gothenburg, while the AE10 service’s regular Aarhus call will be skipped.
Following the regular eastbound call at Bremerhaven, the MAJESTIC MAERSK will then make an off-schedule appearance at Wilhelmshaven, where she is expected to exchange eastbound cargo with the EUGEN MAERSK. Both ships will be trading on the AE10 and both will be on eastbound voyages. The MAJESTIC MAERSK will be a few days behind schedule because of her christening and the EUGEN will be ahead of schedule since her round-trip is to skip the Gothenburgh call.
The fact that one ship is ahead of schedule and the other behind, will allow Maersk Line to exchange cargo between the two, while the ships meet at Wilhelmshaven.
Eventually, after a routine southbound call at Rotterdam, the new MAJESTIC MAERSK will set a new record for the biggest container ship ever to call at a UK port, when visiting Felixstowe on another off-schedule call. After this, the AE10 voyage will resume normally.