Maersk – Seago has re-opened its seasonal Levant – Black Sea service, a loop which is – among others – aimed at citrus fruit and other agricultural products.
The loop which was suspended in late May re-opens today with a first sailing of the 1,155 teu ORKUN KALKAVAN from Mersin. After a single inaugural round voyage, the vessel is to be replaced by the MAERSK ARUN, who will sail alongside the 968 teu BOTTENVIK, so far employed by BG Freight.
The rotation reads as follows: Mersin, Ashdod, Novorossiysk, Mersin.
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.
China’s Sainty Shipyard has delivered the 1,070 teu vessel SAINTY VOGUE. The ice-classed container vessel appears to be managed by an entity of the Sainty Marine Group and thus a sister company of the shipyard.
Sainty has been a prolific builder of various types of small ice-classed container vessels, typically built to European standard designs for the accounts of north European owners.
The SAINTY VOGUE and her yet-to-be-delivered sister ship, due in 2014, seem to be hulls that were originally earmarked for a European non-operating owner, but which were dropped when European ship financing dried up.
Now controlled by the Sainty Marine Group itself, the SAINTY VOGUE has been chartered to Maersk Line, who will deploy the ship on the recently-launched Morocco to Russia citrus season service. The SAINTY VOGUE will phase into the service on 11 November after her positioning trip from China to Morocco.
With direct calls at St Petersburg throughout the winter, the new Maersk-Seago loop requires ice-classed tonnage.
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.
Further to the recent strengthening of its Morocco – North Europe route for the citrus season, CMA CGM is to inject three more vessels into the trade lane. The carrier will add to its recently relaunched fortnightly single-ship ‘Dunkrus’ service with a new ‘wider’ loop with three vessels on a 21-day roundtrip with weekly departures.
The 1,732 teu EM SPETSES has been chartered by the French Line to join the 1,347 SHANTI and JAMILA on the ‘extended’ ‘Dunkrus’ with the following rotation: Casablanca, Agadir, Dunkirk, Portsmouth, Rotterdam, Le Havre, Nador, Casablanca.
CMA CGM innovates this year with the inclusion of a Portsmouth call into the ‘Dunkrus’ service. The loop will be the second service to offer a Casablanca-UK leg in addition to OPDR’s Canaries – Morocco – Iberia – Northern Range loop ‘CISS’.
Further to the aforementioned changes, CMA CGM will revise its St Petersburg ‘Shuttle A’ and move the service’s Dunkirk call in order to shorten transit times between Morocco and Russia via transhipment in France.
The revised rotation will be: Zeebrugge, Antwerp, Dunkirk, St Petersburg (two terminals), Zeebrugge.
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.
The Denmark-based Unifeeder Group, specialised in common feeder operations in Northern Europe, has announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire United Feeder Services (UFS), a common feeder operator in the Med. The price of the takeover has not been disclosed.
In combination, the two companies will maintain the largest network of common container feeders in Europe, covering the Baltic and North Sea as well as the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
Unifeeder and UFS will continue to trade as separate companies and with separate organisations, but will focus on combining their capabilities to improve services and operations.
The transaction is expected to close at the end of October, subject to approval by the relevant authorities.
Unifeeder is the largest lolo shortsea operator in Northern Europe and it operates a fleet of over 40 vessels in the size range from 700 to 1,600 teu. The carrier refers to itself as the ‘asset light logistics company’ since its entire vessel fleet is time chartered. Since April this year, Unifeeder is owned by the Stockholm-based private equity investment firm Nordic Capital.
A year ago, the expanding shipping line already acquired a smaller short sea operator and took over the Netherlands-registered Feederlink from the Irish Continental Group.
In May, Unifeeder had already expanded into the Med under its own flag and launched a new service from Spain to Tunisia. It is presently not known whether the carrier’s new Med activities will remain under the Unifeeder brand or whether the takeover will see the southern Europe operations regrouped under UFS, while the Unifeeder brand refocuses on Northern Europe.
UFS was founded at the beginning of 1999 through the merger of three feeder operators in the Mediterranean where it operates an extensive network that covers over 35 ports served with a fleet of about 20 vessels. The company is headquartered in Limassol, Cyprus.