Maersk's Newbuilds a Sign of Market Changes
Maersk Line has signed a new building contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) to build nine vessels with a 14,000 TEU capacity and an option for up to eight additional vessels.
The contract has a value of $1.1 billion and was signed in July by Sam H. Ka, Chief Operation Officer of HHI and Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer, Maersk Line.
“I am very pleased about this order for which we have taken a new approach,” says Søren Toft. “The vessels will be designed to operate in and perform efficiently across many trades and not just designed for one specific trade. They will help us stay competitive and make our fleet more flexible and efficient.”
Designing vessels with a flexible operational profile is a first for Maersk Line. By moving away from hulls designed with a certain speed and draft in mind, Maersk Line is strengthening its fleet with vessels which can be deployed on East-West or North-South trades where requirements differ, with no impact on fuel consumption.
According to Maersk Group Chief Economist, Graham Slack, trade flows are becoming less predictable after the financial crisis in 2008, making it harder for shipping lines to plan which vessels will sail where in their globe-crossing vessel networks.
While China remains the global manufacturing center, competitors like Mexico, Turkey and others are growing, meaning shipping lines must be prepared for new trade patterns.
“Suddenly, after 2008 and the financial crisis, there’s been a structural shift. We’re not growing at the same pace on these traditional East-West routes anymore, partly due to lower demand in U.S. and Europe but also due to changes in offshoring and near-shoring of production to get closer to these end markets and to diversify supply-chains.”
The new vessels will be 353 meters long. They will join Maersk Line’s fleet in 2017 and sail under Singaporean flag.
This is the third new-building order in Maersk Line’s investment program announced in September 2014. The order follows the seven 3,600 TEU feeder vessels and eleven 19,630 TEU Triple-E vessels announced earlier this year as part of Maersk Line’s $15 billion investment in new-buildings, retrofitting, containers and other equipment.
The vessel order book corresponds to 0.5 million TEU or approximately 16 percent of Maersk Line’s current fleet, excluding options.