Containership Project Prospects Look Good

The containership market is perhaps best defined by two decidedly different forces — expansion and convergence.

While the demand for and size of containerships has grown rapidly over the past few years, the continuing consolidation of fleets and ports is leading to fewer, larger owner/operators and the development of "megahubs." "The trend is toward the further development of a hub and spoke system," and the continuing development of a few mega-hubs and emergence of a number of regional hubs, said Jim McCaul, president, IMAAssociates, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. "It looks to me like there is really a potential for growth in the big (post-Panamax size) ship segment, as there seems to be a lot of activity of companies looking to order post-Panamax size ships." As the ships get larger (8,000-TEU vessels have been discussed), so too do all issues surrounding the construction and servicing of the ships. Mr. McCaul notes that as the ships get bigger, they have to get faster to maintain schedule — increasing speeds to at least 25 to 26 knots — meaning there will be a need for bigger, more powerful power plants.

The employment of increasingly larger ships will have a ripple effect on the feeder ship market, as a larger fleet of smaller capacity vessels will be needed to transport containers to and from the mega-hubs. One owner positioning itself to capitalize on this development is Monaco-based MC Shipping, which operates a fleet of 10 vessels ranging in size from 800 to 2,000 TEU (16,000 to 23,000 dwt). MC Shipping President Guy Morel said that his company will "continue disposing of old fleet when we get the price we want," and will concentrate on acquiring modern (secondhand and new) feeder containerships. He said at this point, ordering new ships is not as attractive, as it involves trying to determine feeder ship needs in a quickly evolving industry. Regardless of whether the next MC Shipping ship is new or used, the critical factor (aside from quality) is speed.

Now Orders Flowing Market trends and analysis aside, there is nothing like orders placed and ships delivered to make a convincing case for signs of a growing market. And in the past few months, there have been several significant ships contracted and christened.

It was just two months ago that Evergreen announced an order for ten 4,173-TEU containerships from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. For those keeping score, the total number of containerships ordered from Japan by Evergreen since 1993 is 35. Also, APL recently took delivery of the last of its 4,800-TEU containership series, an order split between Germany's HDW and Korea's Daewoo.

Daewoo built three of the innovative new containerships (see related story, page 27) for APL. The vessels, classified by the American Bureau of Shipping, can The IHI-built Jervis Bay, one of a series of seven 4,236-TEU containerships built for P&O Containers, features Marlow Steelite H.M.P.E. mooring ropes, which reportedly exhibit the strength and extension of conventional steel wire rope while being only one-sixth the weight of a wire rope of equal strength.

For more information on Marlow Ropes Circle 50 on Reader Service Card carry a maximum of 4,823 TEU, powered by a B&W 11K 90MC-C diesel engine (MCR 48,840 kW at 104 rpm) to a service speed of 24.6 knots. The vessels were designed and built by Daewoo with several goals in mind: increased service speed; larger container capacity under deck; improved measures for safety and maintenance; high quality management systems; advanced container securing arrangement; and improved maneuvering capability via a bowthruster. A total of eight holds (six forward, two aft) are arranged with cell guides based on TEU, FEU and 45-ft. (13.7-m) units, and accommodated 2,452 TEU in up to nine tiers. On deck, 2,380 TEU can be stacked up to five tiers high and the arrangements allow for containers of 20-, 40-, 45- and 48-ft. (6.1-, 12.2-, 13.7-, 14.6- m) lengths to be stowed.

A total of 43 pontoon hatch covers were supplied by MacGregor. Lashing bridges were arranged for stowage of containers above the weather deck. Hold access is made through a longitudinal/transverse passageway below the upper deck and vertical ladders on centerline of the weather deck. Dangerous goods cargo holds (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8) are provided with natural supply and mechanical exhaust ventilation with ducts. The other holds are provided, with natural ventilation.

The vessel is outfitted with the latest in propulsion and electronic equipment, including an HHI B&W diesel engine; a semi-spade type rudder operated by an electro-hydraulically driven 485 t-m Tong Myung steering gear, ram cylinder type; and a Lips BY 2,000-kWbowthruster with a controllablepitch propeller. Auxiliary power is supplied by three MaK 6M453C engines. The wheelhouse is designed in accordance with DNV class notation W1 (one man bridge operation), and is equipped with an up-to-date total navigation system. Electronics, including radars, INS, gyrocompass, doppler speed log, RDF and GMDSS console, were all supplied by Sperry. JRC supplied the standard A satcom terminal; Radio Holland supplied standard C. Daewoo has also recently delivered a smaller, yet still significant, series of four containerships from a Westfal-Larsen & Co. A/S order. The vessels are for open hatch general cargo/container carrying forest products, containers and bulk cargoes such as coal, ore or grain. The vessels, delivered in the middle of last year, each have a container capacity of 1,928 TEU and measure 653 ft.

(199 m) long, and 102 ft. (31 m) wide with a 39-ft. (12-m) design draft.

The ships are powered to a service speed of 16 knots by a propulsion package consisting of a B&W 6S60MC main diesel engine driving a four-bladed propeller. Auxiliary power is provided by a combination of three MAN B&W Holeby engines; bow and sternthrusters are Ulstein Propeller make, with 1,470 kW and 735 kW of power, respectively.

The ships — dubbed Star Hardanger, Star Heranger, Star Hosanger and Star H0yanger — also feature a full complement of the latest electronics, including: Atlas radars and Doppler speed log; Saraco gyrocompass; SAIT RDF; and ABB standard B and Thrane & Thrane standard C satcom terminals.

German shipyards have enjoyed great success in the containership market to date. Mr. McCaul offers a possible reason: "For some reason the Germans have made major penetration in that market, and you have to ask why. What is it about German technology which has given them the image as a leader among containership builders? A possible answer is that quality owners are willing to pay for quality ships, more so than other vessel sectors." Major containership owners generally buy with the objective of keeping the ships in service their entire lives, rather than buying a vessel to turn around and sell some seven years later.

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