NOL goes big with 14,000-TEU ship order
NOL, the Singapore-based parent company of container APL, said Wednesday it has signed letters of intent with two South Korean shipyards to build 12 vessels worth $1.5 billion.
The order includes a 10-vessel series from Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co. for 14,000-TEU vessels, which would be by far the largest ships in APL's fleet. NOL is also planning to contract with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. to build two 9,200-TEU vessels.
The line will also convert a July 2010 order placed with Daewoo for 10 8,400-TEU ships into 9,200-TEU vessels. In all, the orders will expand APL's order book by 160,000 TEUs to roughly 375,000 TEUs. The orders would give APL the third-largest order book in the industry after Mediterranean Shipping Co. and Maersk Line. NOL operates a fleet of 146 ships, representing 578,000 TEUs of capacity, according to maritime consultant Alphaliner.
The ships are scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014.
NOL said the 14,000-TEU ships would be deployed on the Asia/Europe trade, while the 9,200-TEU vessels would likely be employed in the transpacific.
The company said 'it is investing in new, larger vessels to reduce unit capital and operating costs, meet future growth needs and replace older and smaller chartered vessels that will be returned to their owners in the charter market.'
The line had in previous years eschewed orders for such large vessels. But the unit cost gains made by top three lines Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM were likely too hard to ignore — all three lines have introduced dozens of vessels larger than 10,000-TEUs into the global fleet in recent years. OOCL earlier this year ordered 10 13,000-TEU ships, while China Shipping and UASC have already taken delivery of vessels of that size.
The largest ships already in APL’s fleet, according to American Shipper affiliate ComPair Data, are the 9,100-TEU APL France and APL Russia. ' Eric Johnson