Rickmers christens four ultra-large container ships

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Rickmers Group has christened four 13,100 teu container ships at a naming ceremony at Hyundai Heavy Industries’ Ulsan shipyard in South Korea.

The four ships, Pearl Rickmers, Ruby Rickmers, Aqua Rickmers and Coconee Rickmers, have been chartered long term to Maersk Line and will join Maersk’s “E-class” as Maersk Edinburgh, Maersk Emden, Maersk Eindhoven and Maersk Essen.

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The ships will be delivered one by one during July and August and phase in to Maersk’s new joint service with CMA CGM linking Asia and North Europe. As Maersk’s AE8 service, it will deploy ten ships of this size, each partner contributing five.

The port rotation will be: Ningbo – Shanghai – Yantian – Tanjung Pelepas – Port Kelang – Le Havre – Hamburg – Rotterdam – Zeebrugge – Port Kelang – Singapore – Ningbo.

A further four sister ships are due for delivery to the Rickmers Group in 2011, also for charter to Maersk Line. All have been fixed for ten-year periods with further options.

The ceremony was attended by Bertram Rickmers, chairman of Rickmers Holding, and his senior management team.  Each ship was christened by its individual sponsor: Pearl Rickmers by Mrs Nina Ruge; Ruby Rickmers by Mrs Cecilia Eckelmann-Battistello; Aqua Rickmers by Mrs Vigga Schneider; and Coconee Rickmers by Mrs Marita Seidt.

Bertram Rickmers said: “With volumes out of Asia again starting to rise and rates holding, container lines’ confidence is growing. Given this scenario, the timing of the delivery of these Rickmers Group ships is looking much better than it might have done six to twelve months ago.”

“With two more sister ships coming in January and February 2011, a seventh at the end of May and the eighth and final ship in the series due for delivery in July 2011, we need the global economy to continue this positive trend. We wish our charterers Maersk Line well in their efforts to maintain a stable market. Too often we have seen container rates tumble despite strong volumes. No one needs this to happen again, even the shippers who provide the cargo.”

Rickmers added: “The eight vessels are ideally suited for the current market, which is demanding the largest possible ships to reduce the cost per container carried. Although built to operate at over 24 knots, the ships are equally capable of slow steaming. This is an important requirement today and in the months and years to come.

“These ships will also be capable of transiting the Panama Canal following completion of ongoing expansion work. Larger locks and dredging will open up an important additional trade lane for so-called New Panamax (NPX) container ships from Asia to the US East Coast.”

Containers are carried 17-wide below deck and 19-wide on the hatchcovers. The maximum capacity of each ship is 7,074 teu on deck and 6,018 teu below deck, making 13,092 teu in total.

Based on a homogeneous container weight of 14 tonnes per teu, the maximum capacity is approximately 9,080 teu.

Each ship is powered by a single Hyundai-Wärtsilä 12RT-flex96C main engine weighing over 2,000 tonnes and developing 68,640 kW (MCR) at 102rpm and 61,776kW (NCR) at 98.5rpm. Five 2,700kw diesel generators are installed.

Although designed for a service speed of 24.3 knots, the flex-engines still achieve 21.5 knots at 60 per cent of the engine’s normal output but can also slow steam as required under charterers’ current service patterns, generating substantial fuel savings.

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