Pace of Mega Ships Accelerates as OOCL Takes Delivery of Two ULCVs
Orient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL) took delivery in less than a week on two more of its class of 24,000 TEU ultra large container vessels. The rollout of these the largest containerships in the industry is now at pace as MSC continues to receive its newbuilds and integrate them into routes to Europe and Ocean Network Express (ONE) yesterday also announced the delivery of its first vessel of what it is calling its megamax class.
Each of the carriers highlights the economic efficiencies of the new ships which have largely found means of increasing the stacking capacity on the same sized hulls. In the case of ONE, the new ship increases the carrying capacity by approximately 20 percent versus the carrier’s previous largest ship. Analysts have however raised concerns over the industry’s ability to absorb the increase in capacity, especially as it is coming at an accelerated pace while overall volumes remain soft. Currently, all the ultra large vessels are being placed on routes between Asia and Europe.
OOCL placed its order for a total of twelve 24,000 TEU vessels in December 2020 as the industry was in the midst of the surge in volumes related to the pandemic. Shipbuilding lead times however meant that the first of the vessels was not delivered till earlier this year. OOCL received the second and third vessels of its order while ONE received the first of its six vessels and MSC also has at least a dozen of the ships on order with several already delivered. Evergreen has taken delivery of its large new ships, while Hapag-Lloyd is expected to start taking delivery of its new ships in the second half of this year.
OOCL Turkiye was delivered today as the third ship of the carriers’ class and the second of the ships to be built at Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering Co. (NACKS) shipyard. The first of the class, OOCL Spain, came from the same shipyard in February. Last week, on May 30, OOCL Piraeus, was delivered by Dalian COSCO KHI Ship Engineering Co. (DACKS) shipyard. Each yard is building six vessels of the class.
OOCL Piraeus being removed from the building dock was delivered on May 30 (OOCL)
Capable of carrying up to 24,188 TEU, each of the ships has a total length of 1,312 feet and a width of 201 feet, dimensions set by the capabilities of the Suez Canal and shipping ports in Europe and Asia. Industry observers believe that the ships will be limited to this size due to the infrastructure limitations. MSC working with the designers at Yangzijiang Shipbuilding however was able to alot a few additional slots in the 25 bays increasing the rated capacity to 24,346 TEU.
OOCL says that the vessels are part of its strategic plan for future growth in the Asia-Europe trade. They are also highlighting that each of the ships incorporates the latest technology, and is equipped with advanced smart systems and upgraded green design, such as low resistance lines design and an energy-saving bulbous bow.
Industry trade group BIMCO earlier this year predicted that the introduction of the new ultra large vessels as part of the record containership orderbook would signal the beginning of significant changes for the industry. The trade group’s analysis pointed not only to the expected increase in global capacity but also changes in the ownership profile of the industry expecting that more ships will be owned by operators as opposed to charters. To deal with overcapacity and pending emissions regulations it is expected that smaller, older vessels will be sold for scrap.