MSC cascades 13,000 TEU ships to Africa trades

MEDITERRANEAN Shipping Co is once again pioneering new routes for large containerships as the even bigger vessels enter the Asia-Europe trades, with ports in Africa now feeling the impact of this cascade effect.

Alphaliner reports that two 12,500 teu-class ships have just become the biggest ships yet deployed in the Africa trades.

A few years ago, the 12,500 teu MSC Fabiola became the largest ship yet to call at a US west coast port. Now ships of that capacity are a common sight in the US, and instead the same vessel and the similar MSC Filippa have just joined MSC’s Africa Express to become the biggest vessels yet seen in the Africa trades. They have dethroned the 11,660 teu MSC Francesca, according to Alphaliner in its latest weekly bulletin. The 13,000 teu MSC Beryl is expected to follow next month.

The Aponte-led line opted for large vessels to serve West Africa when it decided in late 2014 to consolidate all its Asia-West Africa volumes at Lome, according to the analyst. So far, this is the only West African port able to handle vessels of up to 14,000 teu fully laden.

Africa Express calls at Xingang, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Chiwan,Hong Kong, Nansha, Singapore, Port Louis, Durban, Cape Town, Lome, Durban, Colombo, Singapore, Xingang. Until now, this loop was operated using 11 ships of 8,000 teu-9,400 teu.

Meanwhile, the 13,000 teu MSC Flavia is due to be deployed from next month in the South American trades, along with several others of similar size, says Alphaliner. They will be in the service branded Andes by MSC which includes six lines in total, and is currently operated with 12 ships of between 8,800 teu and 10,600 teu.

Weak US demand is forcing carriers to find new homes for their 13,000 teu ships, Alphaliner said.

Displaced by even larger tonnage in the Asia-Europe trades, many were then earmarked for redeployment on the Pacific. However, several carriers have decided to downscale their Asia-US capacity provision this month.


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