ACL plans bigger ships, similar design
Atlantic Container Lines is planning to order five new multipurpose ships at the end of this year or in early 2011 that would be able to carry 4,000 TEUs, more than twice the containers and 20 percent to 25 percent more roll-on/roll-off cargo than the ships in its existing fleet of multipurpose ships.
Andrew Abbott, chief executive officer, said the ships, which would be the fourth generation of container-ro/ro ships the company has built, would be about the same length as those in its current fleet, but would be wider and have a more advanced design enabling increased capacity. The replacement ships would also have car decks with similar capacity to the existing container-ro/ro ships built in 1984 and 1985.
Abbott said the company has had plans for the ships for some time, and would shop shipyards to see where they would be built, but thought they would probably be ordered from a South Korean or Japanese yard.
With a dearth of new orders and shipyards hungry for business, the company may be able to obtain the ships at very favorable prices, he said, perhaps close to half the $150 million the company thought it might pay at the peak of the market.
Meanwhile, the company is looking at a minor modification to its existing ships — cabins that could be used to hold stowaways found on their ships.
Abbott confirmed a report in Lloyd’s List that said the company was making the move after an incident last month in which three stowaways menaced police with knives after they were discovered.
The stowaways, who said they had boarded the ship in Hamburg, were discovered after the ship had left Gothenberg, Sweden, and was en route to Belgium.
Abbott expressed frustration over the refusal of Belgium authorities to accept the stowaways. ACL eventually transferred them to another of its ships that was bound for Gothenberg, but had to hire a six-person security crew to watch the stowaways. The stowaways did about 9,000 euros of damage to the cabin where they were detained.
The company is looking at hardening one or two cabins on each ship — taking steps such as bolting furniture and protecting electrical lights from damage and having a slot in a door through which food and can be passed — someplace to detain stowaways if their are future incidents. During the past year, he said six stowaways were found in a double-decker bus the company was shipping from England. He said potential stowaways have also been found on terminals before they had a chance to board ships.
Abbott praised the way the U.S. government handles stowaways, but said the company has been frustrated with the attitude of Europe officials. He said stowaways might be seeking to board his company’s ships because they call in Halifax and Canada, which is seen as attractive by some persons seeking refugee status.
The International Maritime Organization's most recent quarterly report said globally there were 55 incidents involving 137 stowaways from May 1 and Aug. 31, 2009. Between January 1998 to April 2009 there were 3,688 incidents involving 11,947 stowaways, IMO said.