Chinese carrier Cosco has placed an order for eleven 19,000 TEU ships as part of its master plan to increase its fleet capacity and to bring its total number of ultra-large ships on order from 11 to 20, according to the Journal of Commerce.
This announcement comes at a vital time as the race for mega-ship orders continues to accelerate, despite the drop in freight rates and the increase in container shipping capacity that is putting strain on the industry.
Cosco’s potential alliance partner, China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) this week placed an order for ten 20,000 TEU ships, suggesting that the lines are already beginning to prepare for the imminent merger between both companies.
Such big orders from the Chinese state-owned liners can be seen as a statement of intent from Beijing as the country experiences stultifying slow growth.
The eleven 19,000 TEU ship order is said to be the largest order ever received by a Chinese yard, with the order being split between a total of four shipbuilding yards.
The ships are anticipated to be delivered by around 2018 and will be Cosco’s first order for ships above 18,000 TEU.
MSC also recently placed an order for 10 containerships over 10,000 TEU, which will be leased to the company on delivery.
Chinese lines continue to order ships at a time of industry uncertainty, seemingly in a bid to capitalise on the benefits of economies of scale and facilitate vast growth by providing shippers with more opportunity.
The jigsaw of how ports deal with increasing capacities continues; a recent paper from Dutch-based consultancy firm Dynamar argued that automation is the only viable solution to move mega-capacities and meet the demands of carriers.