Maersk Announces 11 Ultra-large Container Vessel Deal

By MarEx 2015-06-02 09:46:06

Today, Maersk Line signed a 1.8 billion new building contract for eleven second generation Triple-E container ships, which will be the largest vessels in Maersk’s fleet.

The agreement for the 19,630 TEU ships was made with long-time business associate Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) of South Korea and includes an optional provision for six additional vessels. The agreement was signed Tuesday by Mr Sung-Leep Jung, President and CEO of DSME, and Mr Søren Skou, CEO of Maersk Line, at a ceremony at Maersk Line’s headquarters in Copenhagen.

In May there were reports of the pending deal, however Maersk declined commenting on what it called ‘rumors’ at the time.

This is the second new-building order in Maersk Line’s investment program, following the seven 3,600 TEU feeder vessels announced earlier this year. Over the coming five years, Maersk Line is planning to invest USD 15 billion in new-buildings, retrofitting, containers and other equipment. Maersk Line will thereby be able to maintain the necessary capacity to grow with global demand as well as replace less efficient tonnage.

The new vessels are intended for Maersk’s Asia – Europe service and will replace the smaller, less efficient vessels currently in service.

Maersk Line has worked extensively with DSME in the past. Maersk Line ordered 20 of the first generation Triple-E vessels also from Daewoo, with deliveries beginning in July 2013 and the final one due this month.

“I am very happy with this order. These vessels will help us stay competitive in the Asia – Europe trade and will be key in our strategy to grow with the market. It is the second order this year and we expect to order more vessels, which we can add to our fleet from 2017 and onwards,” says Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer (COO) in Maersk Line.

The 11 vessels will have a length of approximately 400 meters (m), width of 58.6m, and a 16.5m draft and are set to join Maersk Line’s fleet between April 2017 and May 2018. They will sail under Danish flag.

“I am very confident placing this order with DSME. The company has a very good track record. Together we can leverage our Triple-E experiences to further improve performance, not least energy efficiency,” says Søren Toft.

DSME and Maersk Line are working on amplifying the features of the Triple-E vessels (efficiency, economy of scale and environmentally improved) in the new vessels.

Currently Maersk owns 255 vessels and has an order book for new vessels corresponding to 13% of the company’s total fleet.

The order was placed despite freight rates hitting multi-year lows due to overcapacity in the industry.

But big shipping companies are ordering increasingly larger vessels to supersede smaller ones, which will make their fleets more efficient while keeping up with the modest growth in global trade in the coming years.


Relatives Anxious for Chinese Boat Disaster News

By Reuters 2015-06-02 11:07:39

Family members of some of the hundreds of passengers aboard a capsized Chinese cruise boat scuffled with officials in Shanghai on Tuesday, angry that they were not being told what happened to the vessel and their loved ones.

In the nearby city of Nanjing, relatives of victims shouted at officials trying to pacify them.

About 60 people, many of them relatives of tourists on the Eastern Star cruise boat that capsized in the Yangtze River in a storm late on Monday, had initially gathered at a travel agency office in Shanghai that handled the bookings for the cruise.

That was locked and they were later escorted to the Shanghai local government office building where they were asked to wait inside a room. Scuffles broke out when a group of relatives, furious over the lack of information being given to them, started demanding more answers from officials.

“We’re extremely anxious,” said Zhang Yingli, 56, whose brother and wife were on the boat.

“It’s 4:30 p.m. now and we haven’t heard anything from anyone except the news. No one has come to reassure us.”

An official at the Shanghai government’s media office declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

A total of 458 people, including 47 crew members, were on board the Eastern Star, according to state media. All the 406 passengers on board the ship had arranged the booking through Shanghai-based Xiehe International Travel. The other five were tour guides.

“I only found out about this on the television news while I was at work and I came here. I cried all the way here and here I can’t find anyone, the door is locked,” said Wang Sheng, 35, sprawled on a couch wailing for his mother and father who were on board.

According to the travel agent’s website, the river cruise originates in Nanjing and winds upstream for 11 days to the southwestern city of Chongqing, stopping at scenic and historic sites along the way.

Many of the relatives said they only learned about the disaster through news broadcasts and were angrily demanding more information.

“We haven’t heard anything from any authorities,” said Zhang Junmin, 32, whose mother along with her friends and neighbours were on the ship.

In a hotel in Nanjing, relatives of survivors gathered in a conference room and railed at officials for not giving them new information. Three local government officials stood in front of the room trying to soothe the crowd.

“You’re not doing anything to help us!” shouted a man with a ponytail and a half-shaved head to the officials.

Several relatives sat slumped in chairs, while others cried, holding their heads in their hands.

Local reporters said they had received a notification from the authorities telling them not to go to the site of the disaster but to cover the news based on reports from state broadcaster CCTV and Xinhua news agency.

Such information control is common in China for major disasters, reflecting the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party’s fears of any kind of unrest.

In a sign of official nervousness about how the disaster may play out, a government document carried by a local Hubei newspaper on its official microblog said that provincial authorities were rushing police to the scene to “ensure social stability”.


Bonds seen as risk for shipping finance

As shipping companies return to bonds as a source of funding, legal experts have warned of the potential pitfalls of using this kind of financing.
“When companies need to restructure their finances, bondholders are not always in agreement , which can lead to a difficult situation,” said Marius

Sunken Vessel May Damage China’s Safety Record

By Reuters 2015-06-02 08:59:16

The sinking of a cruise boat on China’s Yangtze River is likely to mar the country’s generally clean maritime safety record, which hasn’t suffered an incident of this magnitude since a passenger steamship blew up almost 70 years ago.

The Eastern Star, which was carrying 458 people, capsized in a storm late on Monday, state media said, with those on board ranging in age from three to more than 80. Six bodies have been found and over a dozen people rescued, but more than 430 are still unaccounted for.

The incident comes after China has beefed up maritime safety regulations in recent years, with authorities becoming even more stringent after last year’s South Korean ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people, industry insiders said.

“As compared to the large volumes of passengers transported in (China’s) coastal areas and inland waterways, I don’t think there exists a very serious problem with regards to safety,” said James Hu, a professor at Shanghai Maritime University.

“I’ve met with Korean and Japanese experts and our conclusion has been that China’s laws with regards to passenger ships and their enforcement is the strictest,” he said, adding that this ranged from vessel construction standards, to age restrictions on passenger ships to crew qualifications.

In recent years, the Maritime Safety Administration had also become stricter on safety precautions, especially in areas like Bohai Bay in northeast China, where it would prevent ships from sailing once winds became too strong, he said.

The 6,300 km (3,900 mile) Yangtze River, Asia’s longest, became the world’s busiest river in 2010 after cargo throughput hit 1.5 billion tons, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The route is among China’s more than 130,000 km (80,000 miles) of inland waterways.

To be sure, China has poor workplace safety record – a poultry slaughterhouse fire in 2013 killed 120 people for example – and tens of thousands die on the roads each year.

But according to the Changjiang Maritime Safety Administration, responsible for a third of the Yangtze, there were just 16 cases of incidents involving ships last year which left 32 people missing or dead. The regulator oversees the passage of around 60,000 ships each year.

In the worst previous incident of its kind in China, the steamship Kiangya blew up on the Huangpu River in southeast China in 1948, killing more than 1,000 people.

More recently, 280 people died in 1999 after a ferry caught fire and capsized in the Yellow Sea close to the port city of Yantai in Shandong province. Other accidents have mostly involved fatalities in the low double- to single-digits, according to past local media coverage.

Passenger ships in China undergo safety inspections by the domestic certification provider, the China Classification Society, and local maritime bureaus, and are checked on matters such as life-saving facilities, navigational equipment and crew skills, local maritime officials said.

The Eastern Star passed inspections by the authorities in the central province of Chongqing last month before it sailed for Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province that is near Shanghai, unnamed officials at the Nanjing Maritime Bureau told the People’s Daily. It was not checked at the Nanjing port as such ships tended to receive safety inspections every three months.

When it capsized, it was about midway on an 11-day cruise from Nanjing to Chongqing, winding upstream with stops at scenic and historic sites. The ship was owned by the Chongqing Eastern Shipping Corporation, a state-owned company which runs tours along the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze.

By Brenda Goh