China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) confirmed in mid-May that it had ordered three new 5,600 teu post-panamax ships from Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard, and has options to build a further two ships. All vessels are to be delivered between the second half of 2004 and mid-2005.
The new order valued at US$250m comes at a time when CCSCL intends to launch a new China/Europe shipping line later in the year in time to catch the peak season export market from the Far East.
Meanwhile CSCL will complete the upgrade of its existing Far East/Europe ser vice in June, when it takes delivery of a 5,600 teu vessel from Hudong as the second of a first batch of four post-panamax vessels. Until now, CSCL has operated the service with nine 4,250 teu ships.
Such are the high volume levels being experienced by CSCL on the westbound China/Europe, that the company has decided to continue operating a 'sweeper' vessel of 4,000 teu capacity on the existing service that collects the surplus cargo left behind by the mother vessel.
"At this time of the year, we are normally managing around 80-85 per cent of overall volume, but right now ships are sailing full, and we are not even into the pre-peak buildup," said a CSCL manager.