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Hapag-Lloyd, ONE order ultra large container ships

All 12 vessels will be able to carry more than 23,500 TEUs

The Al Nefud, at a capacity of 19,870 TEUs, has been one of the largest vessels in the Hapag-Lloyd fleet. (Photo: Hapag-Lloyd)

Two days before Christmas, Hapag-Lloyd presented its plans for six container ships, each with a carrying capacity of more than 23,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). On Christmas Eve, Ocean Network Express (ONE) announced it had signed a letter of intent for the long-term charter of six vessels, each with a capacity of more than 24,000 TEUs. 

Hapag-Lloyd’s six ultra large container ships will be built at the Korean shipyard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and delivered between April and December 2023.

“The vessels will be deployed on the Europe-Far East routes as part of THE Alliance and will significantly increase Hapag-Lloyd’s competitiveness in this trade,” last Wednesday’s announcement said, adding that as part of the German shipping line’s sustainability strategy, “the vessels will be fitted with a state-of-the-art high-pressure dual-fuel engine, which will be extremely fuel efficient. The engine will operate on LNG but has alternatively sufficient tank capacity to operate on conventional fuel.”

Other members of the vessel-sharing THE Alliance are Yang Ming, HMM and ONE.

Hapag-Lloyd said financing for the roughly $1 billion investment already has been secured. 

“With the investment in six ultra large container vessels, we will not only be able to reduce slot costs and improve our competitiveness on the Europe-Far East trade but also take a significant step forward in modernizing our fleet. Additionally, we will further reduce our environmental impact,” Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen said in the announcement. 

ONE’s announcement Thursday said it had signed a letter of intent with Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. for a 15-year charter of six new ultra large container ships “with capacity greater than 24,000 TEUs each, the world’s largest class ever.”

The newbuilds will come from a consortium of Imabari Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. and Japan Marine United Corp., with delivery expected in 2023 and 2024. 

ONE said the new ships are part of its strategy to “introduce large, modern and fuel-efficient vessels to further strengthen our fleet competitiveness.”

The six 24,000-TEU-plus container ships “will help bring economies of scale and significantly lower carbon emissions through a state-of-the-art hull design that aims to maximize cargo intake and minimize fuel consumption. The vessels will be equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems to meet the emissions regulations of IMO,” ONE said in its announcement. 

The International Maritime Organization regulation required that by the beginning of this year, all ships be switched from 3.5% heavy fuel oil to either 0.5% very low sulfur fuel oil or 0.1% sulfur marine gasoil.

Like Hapag-Lloyd, ONE said the ultra large container ships will have a “decreased environmental impact. It reaffirms our commitment to operational excellence, business sustainability and environmental protection.”

Japan-headquartered ONE did not share the cost of the charters or the trade lanes on which the container vessels will be deployed.

Hapag-Lloyd and ONE joined other global shipping lines launching ultra large container vessels. 

HMM announced in early October that all 12 of its 24,000-TEU container ships were carrying cargo. In September, the CMA CGM Brazil, with a capacity of 15,072 TEUs, became the largest vessel to call the U.S. East Coast. 

American Shipper Senior Editor Greg Miller reported earlier this month that ocean carriers are placing some orders for newbuilds, but primarily for replacements rather than fleet growth. 

“Carriers are looking to renew their fleets and to have more environmentally friendly ships,” Alphaliner analyst Stefan Verberckmoes told Miller, adding later that “if you look at the people ordering ships now, like Hapag-Loyd and ONE, these are the guys who haven’t ordered ships in a long time who are catching up with carriers who already have 23,000-TEU ships.”

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HMM’s 12th 24,000-TEU container ship en route to Rotterdam

East Coast ports welcome largest vessel

Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.


  1. Tom Drechsler

    So when will they implement mandatory inclusion of GPS or AIS trackers for ea container to retreive all the containers these behemoths cant keep on deck?

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Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.