Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) purchased and is currently reflagging eight newer and larger containerships to upgrade the ocean transportation services provided to its U.S. military, government and commercial customers.
MLL’s investment of approximately half a billion dollars in eight vessels will improve the quality of service to the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea from the U.S. East Coast. Since 2000, MLL has invested over $1.75 billion dollars to modernize its fleet in support of the U.S. government and military. The vessels are about 10 years younger than the outgoing ships, offering improved fuel efficiency and environmental performance.
The vessels will join Maersk Line’s weekly Middle East Container Line service (MECL1) throughout May and June. This route serves commercial customers and the U.S. military, and it transports U.S.-grown food aid. MECL1 will be the industry’s only direct U.S. flag service to and from the U.S. East Coast and Pakistan, and the service includes a new stop in Algeciras, Spain.
All eight vessels will join the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA).
Vessel reflagging is a complex process that involves coordination between commercial and government stakeholders. Ensuring an efficient reflagging process is critical to MLL’s core business of operating and maintaining U.S. flag vessels. The coordination of 16 vessel transfers (eight in, eight out) demands expertise and alignment at all levels of the organization.
Reflagging a ship ensures that it meets the stringent safety, environmental, operational and compliance standards required by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and other U.S. maritime authorities.
MLL’s engineering team performs a gap analysis on each ship to assess its compliance with USCG requirements and makes any necessary modifications. Once a vessel meets these requirements and receives all U.S. government approvals, the vessel can come under the U.S. flag, making it eligible to carry cargo for the U.S. military, other government entities and commercial shippers.
The eight incoming vessels are named in honor of American cities that have brought industrial vitality to the U.S. economy through manufacturing, finance, transportation, and exports. This ship names are: Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Memphis, and Pittsburgh. Maersk Chicago was the first of the eight vessels to be reflagged; she came under the U.S. flag on May 1, 2013.