The first of MSC’s latest series of ships has arrived in northern Europe from Asia. Despite its standard dimensions, its additional row of container stacks gives it a record-breaking capacity

MEDITERRANEAN Shipping Co’s 23,756 teu MSC Gülsün, currently the world’s largest containership, has completed its maiden voyage to Europe.

Vessel tracker data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence shows that MSC Gülsün was due to arrive in Bremerhaven after calling at Algeciras in Spain last week, following a voyage via the Suez Canal from Yantian in China.

MSC Gülsün is the first of an 11-ship series of vessels that MSC ordered in 2017. Sistership MSC Mina has also entered service and was last reported en route to Tanjun Pelepas in Malaysia.

At 400 m loa, MSC Gülsün is roughly the same dimensions as the recent deliveries of ultra-large containerships, but has the distinction of having 24 rows of containers across its 60 m beam, rather than the usual 23, allowing for the higher nominal capacity.

MSC is promoting the new ships as highly energy efficient, saying they will help reduce the amount of CO2 emitted per container carried.

As well as being fitted with a hybrid scrubber system, the vessel can also run on low-sulphur fuel and could also later be adapted for LNG, MSC said.

MSC Gülsün’s improved energy efficiency and fuel economy ensure that MSC is on track to meet international 2030 environmental policy targets set by the International Maritime Organization  ahead of time, building on a 13% improvement in CO2 emissions per ton of cargo moved already achieved across the MSC fleet between 2015 and 2018,” the carrier said in a statement.

MSC Gülsün and MSC Mina are serving on the 2M Asia-Europe AE-10 / Silk  service. The loop links China and South Korea with northern Europe, including the Baltic Sea port of Gdansk, via wayport calls at Tanjung Pepelas and Algeciras.

HMM appears to be going into its partnership with THE Alliance early, announcing that it will be dumping its beleaguered Asia-North Europe service later this month.

It will be terminating its AEX rotation and, instead, making use of capacity from THE Alliance on the Asia-Europe tradelane eight months before its planned entry into the alliance in April 2020.

One source told The Loadstar HMM had, in part, launched the AEX service in an attempt to “protect its identity”, but noted that it had come at a price.

“Its latest results show it was still losing money and by chopping the AEX, which is very expensive partly due to the small vessel size, it will make some savings,” said the source.

“Even so, it will still be required to maintain payments for its contracted service on the 2M, where it is required to pay for slots used or unused.”

The source added that it would be “interesting” to see how much traffic the carrier diverted to THE Alliance vessels.

HMM confirmed that the 2M+H strategic cooperation would be maintained, which it said would see all current services remaining fully operational.

“First and foremost, HMM would like to express its highest gratitude for your unwavering support and encouragement,” it said. “As part of our continuous efforts to broaden network coverage and improve service efficiency… we are pleased to announce the use of services in THE Alliance.”

The final AEX sailing will depart South Korea on Sunday, on a Busan-Shanghai-Ningbo-Yantian-Singapore-Rotterdam-Hamburg-Southampton rotation.

First-quarter results showed the carrier continuing to haemorrhage money, recording an $88m loss, despite a bump in revenues and volumes of 11% for the three months.

It said: “We will maximise efforts to strengthen profitability by successfully securing service contracts, rationalise service network, attract high-value cargo and create competitive new service routes.

“Given rising demand during peak season, both freight rate and container volumes are highly likely to increase in the second and third quarters.”

HMM launched the AEX independently of its slot charter arrangement with the 2M in April last year, but had reliability issues leading to a temporary suspension of the UK call.

The original motivation for the standalone loop came from its Korean electronics customers which complained they were unable to guarantee shipment on nominated 2M vessels. Indeed, one HMM source complained to The Loadstar that it was “always the last to know” about service disruptions on 2M vessels.

The board at Evergreen Marine, Taiwan’s largest shipping line, has approved plans to bring in its largest ships, orders that could see the Chang family-controlled line leapfrog Ocean Network Express (ONE) and Hapag-Lloyd into fifth spot in the global liner rankings.

Evergreen said it is looking to add eleven 23,000 teu ships, five or six of which it will order and the remainder will be chartered in. The company has set aside $1.76bn for this significant fleet addition.

The new ships will add to Evergreen’s existing 1.3m teu fleet. No yards have yet been mentioned although tradition would suggest Japan’s Imabari is in poll for a good portion of the new tonnage.

As far as Evergreen’s existing owned tonnage goes, its largest ships are in the 12,000 teu range, but it also has a slew of much larger ships in the 20,000 teu bracket that have delivered in the last couple of years.

Lekima, China’s ninth typhoon of 2019, has damaged more than 36,000 homes and 900,000 acres of crops. Total economic losses are estimated at $2.55 billion.

BEIJING — The death toll from typhoon Lekima in eastern China rose to 44 people on Monday morning, according to official data, as the storm continued up the coast, racking up billions of dollars in economic losses and widely disrupting travel.

Twelve more people were recorded dead from the storm, seven from Zhejiang province and five from Shandong, and 16 people were missing, according to data from provincial emergency bureaus and state media.

The state broadcaster CCTV had put the death toll at 32 on Sunday.

Typhoon Lekima made landfall early Saturday in Zhejiang province, with winds gusting up to 115 mph. The center of the storm has since traveled north through Shandong and off the coast.

Many of the earlier deaths occurred when a natural dam collapsed in Zhejiang after a deluge of 6¼ inches of rain within three hours.

The Shandong Emergency Management Bureau said more than 180,000 people were evacuated in the province, adding to an earlier evacuation of about 1 million people in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, as well as the financial hub of Shanghai.

The latest update from Shandong brings the total estimated economic toll of the storm to 18 billion yuan, or about $2.55 billion, in China, including damage to 900,000 acres of crops and more than 36,000 homes. Shandong alone estimated the total economic impact on agriculture at 939 million yuan, or about $133 million.

Lekima is China’s ninth typhoon this year. China’s state broadcaster said Sunday that more than 3,200 flights had been canceled but that some suspensions on high-speed railway lines had been lifted.

The typhoon was expected to weaken as it headed northwest off the coast of Shandong into the ocean east of Beijing

The world’s busiest cargo airport, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), has seen mass flight cancellations today due to anti-government protesters occupying parts of the airport, with all passenger flights cancelled until tomorrow morning, leading to disruptions of some cargo activities. However, freighter flights are understood to be still operating.

The airport confirmed that “Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted, all flights have been cancelled.”

Hong Kong-based airline Cathy Pacific said it had been informed by the Hong Kong International Airport Authority that all departing flights are cancelled today, Monday 12 August, effective immediately, with the cancellation period extending until the morning of Tuesday 13 August

With misdeclared hazardous cargoes sparking many dangerous fires on boxships around the world, Germany’s top liner has taken severe action – imposing a fine of $15,000 per wrong container.

Hapag-Lloyd suffered a high profile fire on of its ships, Yantian Express, earlier this year, that raged for weeks and caused millions of dollars of damage.

The new fines system comes into play from September 15.

“To ensure the safety of our crew, ships and other cargo onboard, Hapag-Lloyd holds the Shipper liable and responsible for all costs and consequences related to violations, fines, damages, incidents, claims and corrective measures resulting from cases of undeclared or misdeclared cargoes,” the German carrier stated in a note to clients.

Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), now a unit of China-based Cosco, also detailed plans yesterday to crack down on misdeclared dangerous and hazardous cargo.

OOCL said in a notice to customers that “we are aware that there had been an increasing number of marine incidents being reported in 2019, many of which were suspected of potentially carrying un-declared and/or misdeclared hazardous cargo”, adding that “to ensure safety compliance on shore and at sea is met, OOCL will strengthen its Dangerous Cargo acceptance and container inspection policy by imposing additional verification before loading through selective or random inspections on dangerous goods and potential dangerous goods cargo.”

OOCL said any inconsistencies between the declared cargo in the documents and what was physically inside the container would result in a Hazardous Cargo Misdeclaration Fee, without indicating how severe the fine would be.

Depending on the type of deficiencies found in such a shipment, the container could be put out of service and the cargo might be put on hold where penalties may be imposed, and charges associated with the misdeclaration would be on the shipper’s account.

According to the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), nearly 25% of all serious incidents onboard containerships are attributable to misdeclared cargo.

While the exact breakdown of cargo contents varies by container, it’s well known that at any given time, between 5-10% of an average container ship’s cargo is declared as hazardous goods and approximately 12% of global container trade comprises dangerous goods. However, it’s nearly impossible to know how much dangerous cargo is undeclared, or misdeclared.

Commenting on the news from Hapag-Lloyd, a container shipping consultant based in Singapore, applauded the initiative and urged other liners to follow suit. “The booking party is not always the payer, so they will need to ensure that the penalties are imposed or else it can become a toothless tiger. $15,000 will not cover the cost of accidents, but it might cover the cost of inspections and enforcement. All shippers should embrace this, as 99.9% suffer today due to errant actions of the 0.1%. The other carriers will need – and should – follow suit, as those errant shippers who consciously fail to declare will direct this scourge elsewhere. The is no priority higher than crew, ship and cargo safety,”

Lead columnist Andrew Craig-Bennett has repeatedly urged for a different solution to solve the scourge of fires caused by dangerous goods. Craig-Bennett has called on all liners to stop charging higher prices to carry dangerous goods.

“The incentive for shippers to lie disappears as soon as this is done. Yes, the shippers of harmless cargo will be subsiding the shippers of dangerous goods. But their own cargo will be more likely to arrive,” Craig-Bennett wrote in an earlier opinion piece.

The market is now awaiting responses from a host of other lines to see if there will be collective stance from the world’s top carriers in issuing fines on misdeclared cargoes.

CMA CGM has advised its customers that it will void its North Europe to Asia FAL 1 loop, scheduled to depart from Dunkirk on 21 August, and its FAL 3 loop, sailing from Rotterdam on 11 September.

The French carrier blamed “fluctuations between supply and demand” on the North Europe to Asia trade as the reason for cancelling the sailings.

However, European shippers are increasingly concerned that they will see a repeat of the capacity crunch chaos of previous years on vessels for Asia in September and October.

Notwithstanding the latest announcement from CMA CGM, the alliance carriers have already announced that they are blanking a number of headhaul voyages in August and September equivalent to over 150,000 teu of capacity.

The action is in response to what so far appears to be a poor peak season, and to stabilise container spot rates which had been on the slide for several weeks.

Each cancelled headhaul sailing from Asia to Europe means a withdrawn backhaul vessel from North Europe and this has, in the past, thrown the supply chain into chaos.

Shippers will also be wary of the carriers trying to take the opportunity to hike backhaul rates by only agreeing to prioritise shipment of export containers after the agreement to a premium.

Discovery of hundreds of kilos under towels and bathrobes is one of Britain’s largest hauls

Hundreds of kilos of heroin worth up to £40m have been found hidden under towels and bathrobes in a shipping container.

It was one of the largest drug seizures in the UK and several suspects were arrested, police said.

Intelligence led to UK, Dutch and Belgian police tracking a container suspected of carrying a large drug shipment en route to Antwerp, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

A spokesman said the container was believed to have begun its sea voyage in Oman, stopping in various locations before the ship docked in Felixstowe, Suffolk, on 1 August.

The next day officers from Border Force and the NCA removed a container in which about 398kg (62st 7lbs) of heroin was concealed within a cover load of towels and bathrobes. The drug haul was removed and the container returned to the vessel, which carried on to Antwerp.

On arrival, the container was collected by lorry and taken to Rotterdam – all the time under police surveillance. On Monday, as suspects attempted to unload the contents, Dutch police made two arrests.

At the same time the NCA arrested a man from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, who being questioned.

The drugs would be worth at least £9m to organised criminals selling the consignment at wholesale, and at least £40m at street level in the UK and other European countries, the NCA said.

Colin Williams, an NCA regional operations manager, said: “The seizure of such a large quantity of heroin is the result of a targeted, intelligence-led investigation, carried out by the NCA with international and UK partners.

“It is almost certain that some of these drugs would have been sold in the UK, fuelling violence and exploitation including what we see in county lines offending nationwide.

“The heroin trade also feeds addictions that put users’ lives at risk, while giving rise to crimes such as theft which make people feel unsafe in their communities. The NCA works in the UK and with partners around the world to target the crime groups posing the greatest threat to the UK.”

Mark Kennedy, the Border Force deputy director, said: “Border Force officers operate on the frontline, working every day to keep dangerous class A drugs like this off the UK’s streets.

“Substantial seizures like this help to keep communities safe and hit the organised crime groups involved in the international drugs trade hard.”

In view of market seasonality changes in order to  control capacity and increase demand to counteract possible rate reductions on Far East Europe Trade, The Ocean Alliance have announced the below Blank Voyage plan:

void sailing table

If you have any queries or require any assistance please do not hesitate to contact your FGL representative


South Korean carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) is to join THE Alliance when its slot charter agreement with the 2M expires next April.

HMM will become the fourth member of  the vessel-sharing group, joining Hapag-Lloyd, ONE and Yang Ming.

An agreement signed last week also saw the founding members extend the duration of their alliance until 2030.

Hapag-Lloyd chief executive Rolf Habben Jansen said: “HMM is a great fit for THE Alliance as it will provide a number of new and modern vessels, which will help us to deliver better quality and be more efficient.”

Mr Habben Jansen has clearly warmed to the fresh overtures of HMM, previously he said: “We think it is very important that we have a level playing field and we are not in favour of government subsidies in the form that it is being done with HMM.”

THE Alliance has conceded a lot of ground to the bigger 2M and Ocean alliances over the past year, hobbled by the weak financial position of Yang Ming and the botched merger and launch of the Japanese carriers K Line, MOL and NYK as ONE.

HMM has a $2.6bn orderbook for 12 scrubber-fitted 23,000 teu vessels, which will be delivered in the second quarter of next year, and eight 15,000 teu ships stemmed for delivery a year later.

Meanwhile, Hapag-Lloyd, the only profitable carrier of the group, was recently rumoured to be talking to Asian yards about ordering 20,000+ teu ULCVs.

The news of HMM’s acceptance into THE Alliance follows HMM new president and chief executive Jae-hoon Bae’s ‘charm offensive’ visit to Europe in April for meetings with the 2M partners, Maersk Line and MSC about the carrier becoming a full member of their alliance.

The Loadstar understands from a source that, when his approach was flatly rejected, Mr Bae returned to THE Alliance members, which had rejected the advances of his predecessor, to see if there were conditions that would persuade them to change their minds.

These mainly related to obtaining assurances from the state-owned Korea Development Bank (KDB) that it would continue to fund the carrier after losses of $720m last year and $1.1bn in 2017.

Shippers have become more cautious with their bookings after the bankruptcy of  carrier compatriot Hanjin Shipping in 2016, which resulted in over 100 ships and more than 500,000 teu of cargo stranded at sea and in ports for several weeks.

It prompted THE Alliance to build a funding mechanism into its new vessel-sharing agreement that allows the remaining parties to take action to facilitate the movement of cargo carried by a failed container line partner.

Ocean Network Express (ONE) chief executive Jeremy Nixon said he was “happy to see HMM join THE Alliance”. He claimed this would improve sailing frequencies and provide “a better balance of our cargo flows”, while Yang Ming’s chairman and chief executive, Bronson Hsieh, said it was “an important milestone for THE Alliance”.

Lars Jenson, chief executive and partner at SeaIntelligence Consulting, said HMM’s injection of large ULCVs would strengthen THE Alliance’s growth opportunities, without member carriers needing to “leverage themselves into a large new orderbook”.

According to Alphaliner data, HMM is currently the ninth-ranked global carrier, with an operating fleet of 425,550 teu and an orderbook of 396,000 teu.

Mr Bae said: “Being a full member of THE Alliance gives us a lot of pride. We are convinced that we will be successful and generate additional value for our customers, employees and shareholders with combined experience, strategic skills, competitive fleet and a strong focus on our clients’ needs.”

In October, HMM set a target to expand its fleet capacity to 1m teu and be generating annual revenue of $10bn by 2022.

A slot charter agreement with the 2M was a condition of HMM’s financial restructuring in 2016, but the South Korean carrier was always the ‘poor relation’ in the group and, according to insider sources, “the last to be told” when containers were rolled over.