Hapag-Lloyd, the fifth biggest container shipping line in the world and Taiwanese carrier Evergreen Marine Corp have put in spate orders to Asian yards for more than a dozen mega-container ships, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The reports suggest that Hapag-Lloyd has contacted yards in Japan, South Korea and China for six ships that each move 23,000 TEU.
Evergreen, for its part, wants to add up to nine ships in a deal which could be signed in a matter of months.
In total the combined shipbuilding deals could be worth in excess of US$2.2 billion. If they go through they would widen the gap between capacity and demand on container shipping’s vital critical Asia-to-Europe trade lanes.
Furthermore, they would also suggest the drop in new orders in the sector is coming to an end as carriers once again look for bigger vessels to carry cargo.
In March 2019, COSCO, the Chinese state carrier, unveiled designs for a record-breaking 25,000 TEU vessel following approval from the country’s national shipbuilding company.
CMA CGM, the fourth biggest carrier in the world, also ordered a new megaship fleet as part of a series of deals between French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping.
Hapag-Lloyd and Evergreen are both members of two of the three major shipping alliances which enable carriers to cut costs through ship and port slot sharing, a consequence of the lingering overcapacity crisis.
When contacted by PTI, Hapag-Lloyd released this statement: "We regularly review the capacity of our fleet, and we are naturally also in constant contact with potential financiers and shipyards. At the same time, we also very closely examine whether medium-term capacity adjustments make economic sense. However, no decisions have been made at present about new orders."