Evergreen joins elite group with 18,000 teu newbuilding deal
Taiwanese line confirms plans to acquire 11 ultra-large boxships Evergreen Group has finalised plans to charter an 11-strong series of 18,000 teu ships from Shoei Kisen Kaisha, ending weeks of speculation about its newbuilding plans.The order includes the six units of that size announced by Evergreen Marine Corp and its subsidiary last December. Deliveries will be between 2018 and 2019.Lloyd's List revealed in December that Evergreen was poised to pick Shoei Kisen Kaisha, sister company of Japanese shipbuilder Imabari Shipbuilding, as its counterparty for 11 ultra large boxships.Market talk had indicated that the ships would have a nominal capacity of up to 20,500 teu.However, this intake can be acquired by adding extra tiers to container stacks in the hold and on the deck of a standard 18,000 teu design.Classification society DNV GL revealed last week that the Evergreen ships would have a nominal capacity of almost 20,500 teu through such design adjustments while keeping the basic dimensions unchanged from an 18,000 teu vessel.The Taiwanese line, once number one in the world, is now down to fifth place in terms of fleet capacity, having been relegated one place following the recent merger of Hapag-Lloyd and CSAV.The reluctance of group chairman Chang Yung-fa to go for big ships was largely responsible for Evergreen's loss of market share in recent years. But the line has made no secret of its subsequent U-turn.In an interview with Containerisation International late last year, second vice group chairman Bronson Hsieh revealed that Evergreen was planning to go for 18,000 teu ships, as long as that fitted in with the plans of alliance partners.The Taipei-headquartered carrier said in a statement on Wednesday that it had decided to go for 18,000 teu vessels, "based on market demand and the capacity requirements for joint services".Evergreen is a member of the CKYHE alliance of Asian lines. No other member of that consortium has ordered ships of this size so far."Current service co-operation arrangements with its alliance partners will enable Evergreen to efficiently utilise the capacity and garner the potential economic benefits represented by larger vessels," the line said.Latest technologiesThe vessels will be about 400 m in length and about 59 m wide. The design incorporates optimised hull profiles and minimum ballast water requirements to maximise cargo-carrying capability."In light of the continuing demand growth in the shipping market, Evergreen Group continues to adopt the latest technologies for fleet renewal," the statement said.Along with the delivery of its own 30 L-type ships of 8,500 teu L-type — a programme that began in July 2012 and is due to be completed this year — Evergreen has already taken delivery of five 8,800 teu and 10 chartered vessels of 13,800 teu, plus another 10 chartered units of 14,000 teu to be delivered in 2016/2017.With the delivery of these 66 ships within the medium to ultra large size range, Evergreen said it would redeliver chartered vessels upon expiry of their hire periods.The charter parties were signed by Evergreen Marine chairman Anchor Chang and Shoei’s president Yukito Higaki.Evergreen now joins an exclusive but growing group of lines with vessels of 18,000 teu or more. Maersk had led the way with its Triple-E ships of 18,270 teu, and is expected to order more of similar capacity fairly soon. Alliance partner Mediterranean Shipping Co recently took delivery of the 19,224 teu MSC Oscar, currently the biggest boxship in service, eclipsing China Shipping's 19,100 teu CSCL Globe. CMA CGM will soon receive 18,000 teu ships that were originally specified at 16,000 teu, while United Arab Shipping Co also has ships of this capacity on order.Japan's MOL is thought to be very close to signing for 20,000 teu-class ships, also to be built by Imabari, followed by G6 partner OOCL which is currently in talks with South Korean yards for a total of 12 ships of nominal 20,000 teu capacity. Brokers are quoting prices of around $170m for these.