The Japanese Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) announced an order for six containerships of over 20,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent). They will be the largest containerships ever built in delivery in 2017.
They will serve the Asia-Europe routes.
The President of MOL, Koichi Muto, said his group had signed a contract with Korean shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries for the construction of four of those containerships. According to IHS, the amount would be of $ 619.6 million or a unit cost of $ 154.9 million.
MOL signed also a time charter for the two other containerships with the Japanese Shoei Kisen Kaisha. This shipbuilder as the yard where they will be built are controlled by the family Higaki Imabari. Imabari announced the construction of a new dry dock dedicated to very large containerships.
Those containerships will break the record currently held by MSC Oscar with 19,224 TEUs. They must allow MOL to gain competitive advantage.
So far, MOL has only containerships with a maximum capacity of 14,000 TEUs. This is a clear disadvantage for the G6 alliance to which it belongs, comparing with 2M alliances (Maersk and MSC) and Three Ocean (which combines the French CMA CGM, Emirati UASC and Chinese CSCL), which line vessels exceeding 16,000 TEU, or even 18,000 TEUs.
Overcapacity that explain the container industry slump did not discourage the race to gigantism. The world leader in container, Maersk, was the first to order containerships over 18 000 containers in 2011. It was followed in 2013 by CSCL, MSC and UASC. In January 2015, the Taiwanese Evergreen signed a contract with Shoei Kisan Kaisha for the time charter of 11 vessels of 18,000 TEUs. For its part, CMA CGM has announced that he would receive six containerships in 2015 with a capacity of 18,000 TEUs.
This gigantic allows economies of scale reducing the cost per container. The engines of these giant containerships designed to turn slowly, are less energy efficient and less polluting. The reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions would reach 7% compared to conventional motors containerships.