Trendy Developments

These are some news clips that have been overlooked. They got about as much play as footnotes do. No glamor … no glitz …

• “SEOUL — OOCL has announced on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 the christening of its third in the line of sixteen 4,578-TEU vessels, ordered with Samsung Heavy Industries since 2004. The new vessel has been named the m.v. OOCL HOUSTON by sponsor Tania Martin-Dowd, the wife of Stephen Dowd, vice president infrastructure for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The OOCL HOUSTON will be deployed on the Asia-Australia AEA 1 service. The rotation is: Kaohsiung / Hong Kong / Shanghai / Shekou / Hong Kong / Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane and back to Kaohsiung in a 35-day round trip.”

• “F. Laeisz orders six 2,800-TEU box ships from Aker Yards — German shipowner Reederei F. Laeisz GmbH has ordered six 2,790 TEU vessels to be built at the German yards of Norwegian shipbuilder Aker
Yards. “The total contract value for the ships is about 245 million euros ($ 353 million) with delivery scheduled between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2010. The contract is subject to financing. “Rostock-based F. Laeisz has four Aker-built container vessels in its fleet. The six new ships will be 255 meters long and 29.8 meters wide. They will be about 38,670 deadweight tons. Each will have 400 FEU reefer sockets and have service speeds of 22 knots. “Aker said the design of the ships will focus on environmental features such as protected fuel tanks and heavy fuel oil service tanks for low sulphur HFO. “‘We are pleased that the highly reputed F. Laeisz has placed its confidence in us. Even if Aker Yards’ Merchant Vessels is strongly focusing more on specialized vessels, the container ships with new design will still be a part of our product offering,’ said Tom Einertsen, president of Aker’s merchant vessel business.”

Makes for pretty dull reading, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you think that OOCL and Reererei F. Laeisz would know that “bigger is better” and that they should allow themselves to be seduced by glamor and glitz? Don’t they know that they’re bucking a trend by ordering mid-sized container ships? Maybe they’re not reading the right maritime journals. Maybe they’re just not “hip”.

Maybe Chang Yung-fa isn’t “hip” either. Mr. Chang is the founder and chairman of Taiwan’s Evergreen Group, the world’s fourth largest container fleet operator, and in a recent interview he made it clear that he’s in no rush to purchase megaships either. His firm’s program, he revealed to listeners, is to add at least 60 smaller ships ranging from 2,000 TEUs to 7,000 TEUs to Evergreen’s fleet in the near future.

“Now is the time to build,” he said, “because prices are extremely prohibitive. Operators that follow the crowd are likely to suffer once the recession sets in. When the lull comes, the huge ships will suffer instability.” [Trendy, huh?]