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 Line is to implement its annual ‘winter pattern’ in the trade from Central America and Mexico to Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea.
As part of the seasonal changes, the Danish carrier will drop the Baltic leg of its ‘CRX’ loop in mid-October.
The service will therefore lose its present calls at St Petersburg and Kotka and its rotation will be shortened from eight weeks to six.
With the exception of the closed Russia and Finland extension, the service’s port coverage will remain unaltered: Tilbury, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Vera Cruz, Altamira, Big Creek, Manzanillo (Panama), Moin, Cork, Tilbury.
St Petersburg and Kotka will remain covered directly with Maersk’s second fruit-oriented service between Central America and the Baltic: The ‘Ecubex’.
While both the ‘CRX’ and ‘Ecubex’ deploy high-reefer full container ships of about 2,500 teu, Maersk Line only has six such units with ice class at its disposal. Since ice-strengthened ships are required to serve the northern Baltic in winter, only one of the loops can maintain a year-round St Petersburg link.
Hence, Maersk Line now rounds up the sextet and concentrates all sisters on the ‘Ecubex’ in time for the icing season. A number of vessels will thus swap places in the coming weeks.
Direct ‘CRX’ port pairs between Central America, Russia and Finland will be maintained via transhipment at Bremerhaven’s NTB Terminal, using either the ‘Ecubex’ or space on common feeders.
The present ‘CRX’ and ‘Ecubex’ summer pattern had been established in May and the upcoming winter pattern is expected to last until second quarter of 2014.
Hapag-Lloyd has replaced the 956 teu HANSE CONFIDENCE with the 1,436 teu AMERDIJK on its new Baltic Feeder ‘FIX’ or Finland Express. Launched in March, the service seems to enjoy good load factors. The loop links Hamburg and Bremerhaven to the St Petersburg area and then returns south via Kotka, Rauma and Gavle.
On the ‘FIX’ loop, the AMERDIJK now trades alongside the 1,008 teu ANINA. Japan’s MOL slots on the service since its launch in March.
Further to the opening of a new intra-Baltic shuttle between Gdansk and Kaliningrad, Maersk Line is about to make further modifications to its Russia-Poland-Finland network:
1.) Two Bremerhaven – Baltic feeders are merged into a butterfly service:
– the three-week service calling Bremerhaven, Gdansk, Ust-Luga, St Petersburg, Gdansk, Kaliningrad, Gdansk, Helsinki, Kotka
– the two-week service calling Wilhelmshaven, Bremerhaven, St Petersburg and Kotka
are replaced by a single four-week butterfly service calling at:
Bremerhaven, Riga, Helsinki, Bremerhaven, Copenhagen, Gdansk, St Petersburg, Gdansk, Kotka, Bremerhaven.
This new service deploys four of the five ships so far assigned to the existing rotations: the three 1,683 teu sisters MAERSK VALLETTA, MAERSK VIGO and MAERSK VANCOUVER, as well as the 1,730 FESCO VLADIMIR, which is on charter to Maersk Line.
2.) The Intra Baltic service served by the 1,368 teu SÜDEROOG is extended to include Ust-Luga – which is dropped from the recombination above – and a second ship is added: the 1,368 teu BALKAN.
The new rotation reads as follows: Klaipeda, Gdansk, Tallinn-Muuga, Klaipeda, Gdansk, Ust-Luga, Riga, Klaipeda.
Overall, other than RUTH, no extra tonnage is added to the region.
Services from Bremerhaven to Finland and Bremerhaven to Poland and Latvia are unaffected by this reorganisation.
Maersk Line is to re-instate this month the seasonally-suspended Baltic Sea extension of its Central America – Mexico – North Europe service ‘CRX’. Unlike last year, the reefer-heavy loop will not only resume calls in Russia, but also add a Finish port for the first time.
The 2,556 teu THEKLA SCHULTE just started the first eastbound voyage under the revised schedule. The ship has left Veracruz on 20 April and it is to reach Europe on 13 May. Following calls at Cork, Tilbury, Rotterdam and Bremerhaven, the THEKLA SCHULTE and will sail north-east to St Petersburg and Kotka where she is expected in late May.
The ‘summer time’ extension of the service implies a two-week increase of the rotation and two 2,500 vessels are expected to join the service’s fleet.
St Petersburg was added last year at about the same time in the year (first call June 15) and was suspended in December.
The addition of Kotka will make Maersk Line the only carrier to offer a direct link between Finland and Latin America.
In addition to the ‘CRX’ and its seasonal extension into the Baltic, Maersk Line also maintains a year-round connection to Russia with its ‘Ecubex’ service, which links St Petersburg to West Coast South America via the Caribbean. The ‘Ecubex’ service employes a fleet of 1A-ice classed ships and can therefore maintain the Baltic link throughout the year.