OOCL signs with Samsung for 20,000 TEU mega carriers
Hong Kong based OOCL has joined the list of ocean carriers ordering mega 20,000 TEU capacity containerships.The order was announced to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by OOCL’s parent company Orient Overseas (International) Ltd on Tuesday March 31. In a statement the company said: “Six indirect wholly-owned subsidiaries have respectively entered into shipbuilding contracts with Samsung Heavy Industries for the construction of these vessels and for a consideration of approximately US$951.6M.”The registered owners of the 20,000 TEU-class ships, all of which are scheduled to be delivered in 2017, are based in the Marshall Islands. The statement said that 70% of funding for the project would come from banks.OOCL’s move follows a similar decision by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) which also placed contracts with Samsung for six slightly larger 20,150 TEU ships in February. It will boost the overall competitiveness of the G6 Alliance through which both carriers operate their main east-west services, allowing at least one Asia/Europe string to be maintained with mega tonnage for instance. The group was the only one of the four main ones not having or committed to deploying this size of ship.The past two months have seen activity and interest in the ultra large container carrying vessel (ULCV) sector of the liner market pick up. While Evergreen has confirmed orders for 11 x 18,000 TEU ships, COSCON and Yangming are among those lines that are in discussions with various parties for such deals. It is understood that the former carrier’s plans centre around 11 vessels, each loading 19,000 TEU.Elsewhere, Maersk Line recently kicked-off its US$15B capital expenditure programme with an order for seven 3,500 TEU capacity ships for its Seago affiliate, but with the operator hinting that more ULCVs would be ordered during 2015.