Top Ocean Carriers Reorganize, Share Asian Service

Responding to diminished freight volumes in movements between Asia and the US and increasing costs for bunker fuel, Maersk, CMA-CGM (Compagnie Maritimed'Affrètement-Compagnie Générale Maritime) and MSC (Mediterranian Shipping Company) have signed a vessel sharing agreement aimed at enabling the three shipping lines to address their cost issues while still serving the market, without having to add capacity.

The revised service will use post-Panamax size vessels with capacity of 8,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) on its largest loops, and 4,000 TEU ships on the shorter loop. The larger vessels will provide a greater level of efficiency at less cost for the shipping lines while providing a more environmentally friendly solution, according to comments by Maersk. The new routing will replace current capacity for the lines while providing two extensive new services for port coverage between Asia and California.

The string using five 4,000 TEU vessels operated by Maersk under the US flag will call on Kwangyang, Busan, Kobe, Shimizu, Nagoa, Yokohama, Los Angeles and Oakland. Westbound service begins at Los Angeles on March 25, eastbound from Kwangyangon April 12.

The first of the new strings using post-Panamax vessels is called Yang Tse. Its first eastbound call is Shanghai on April 14, westbound at Los Angeles on April 29. Four of the 8,000 TEU vessels will be operated by Maersk, the other by CMA-CGM. Port rotation is Yantian, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Qungdao, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

The second new string is named Bohai Rim and will also employ 8,000 TEU vessels. Four of the ships will be operated by MSC and one by CMA-CGM. The eastbound call begins April 7 at Dalian, westbound at Long Beach on April 27. Port rotation is Dalian, Xingang, Shanghai, Ningbo, Los Angeles, Oakland and Dalian.

The three lines claim these offerings will deliver shorter transit times from Northern China and improved westbound traffic.

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