Taiwanese line Evergreen has sealed a deal to charter a series of ten 13,800TEU ships that could give the line a huge competitive advantage over rivals that ordered new tonnage earlier when prices were higher. Evergreen has signed a memorandum of agreement to lease the vessels from Korea Infrastructure Investments Assets Managements Co, a subsidiary of Korea Development Bank.

The vessels will be built by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, with the first vessel due for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2013. In a statement announcing the deal, the company said: ‘In the face of increasing pressure brought by high oil prices, these new vessels will significantly enhance Evergreen Line’s competitiveness.’

Evergreen’s founder and chairman, Chang Yung-fa, has repeatedly stated his opposition to mega-ships, but the company said it is chartering the 13,800TEU ships to coordinate the size of its vessels with those of CKYH alliance partners. The ships will be operated in Asia, Europe and the Med.

The price agreed for the vessels is less than $115 million each, significantly cheaper than the $170 million paid at the peak in 2008. But falling newbuild prices are not the only factor helping Evergreen. The ships on the drawing board will burn around 175 tonnes of fuel a day, approximately 30 per cent lower than vessels of similar capacity.

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