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MSC Strengthens Fleet for Life Outside the 2M

MSC is continuing to buy second-hand containerships, and does not appear to have lost its appetite for ordering newbuilds, as it prepares for life outside the 2M.

Indeed, Alphaliner reports MSC has just completed the acquisition of the “iconic” 25-year-old 9,600 teu Sovereign Maersk, which was sold by the Danish carrier to Japanese shipowner MC Shipping in 2016, but chartered back.

The ship’s capacity was increased in 2012 from 8,200 teu by raising the wheelhouse.

At its launch in 1997, Sovereign Maersk was one of 25 sister S-class ships ordered from the Maersk-controlled Odense shipyard in Denmark and, at the time, they were the largest containerships in the world and the first to exceed 8,000 teu.

According to the consultant, its new owner will rename it MSC Domna X and it will join four of its sisters in the fleet: MSC Fie X (ex Susan Maersk); MSC Vilda X (Sofie Maersk); MSC Aby (Svend Maersk); and MSC Ellen (Soroe Maersk) on transpacific and Asia-South America trades.

“The number of second-hand vessels bought by MSC since the carrier embarked on an historic buying spree in August 2020 amounts to 271 ships, for a total capacity of just over 1.1m teu,” said Alphaliner.

Meanwhile, on the newbuildings front, for orders placed at the height of the pandemic demand boom, some carriers and shipowners are starting to row back on delivery schedules, due to the collapse in demand and uncertain outlook.

However, The Loadstar reported last week that MSC had ordered ten more 11,400 teu ships from a Chinese shipyard for delivery through 2025 and 2026.

Asia correspondent Martina Li said: “MSC doesn’t publish newbuilding orders and vessel acquisitions, but if reports are true, MSC will have stretched its orderbook to 134 ships, totalling 1.84m teu.”

Putting MSC’s phenomenal capacity growth into context, its second-hand purchases alone would rank it higher than HMM in the carrier league table, while newbuild orders exceed fifth-ranked carrier Hapag-Lloyd’s fleet capacity, of 1.8m teu.

Following yesterday’s joint statement with Maersk confirming the 2025 termination of the 2M Alliance, bullish MSC CEO Soren Toft said: “We continue to strengthen and modernise our fleet, providing us with the scale we need for the most comprehensive ocean and shortsea shipping network in the market.”

Indeed, one S&P broker told The Loadstar today: “MSC was already proactive, but I can see its brokers getting the green light to hoover-up virtually any ship that becomes available now it looks like it will be operating as a standalone in the future.

“I don’t see Maersk being very active in the S&P market, as it has made it clear it has no interest in elderly ships,” he added.


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