HMM deploying world’s largest container ship

Imagine the Empire State Building laid on its side. The newly christened HMM Algeciras is more than 60 feet longer than the New York City landmark is tall. A walk around the world’s largest container ship would be about half a mile.

A naming ceremony was held Thursday for the HMM Algeciras, which has a capacity of 24,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), at a Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) shipyard in Geoje, Korea. The Algeciras is scheduled to depart from Qingdao, China, on its maiden voyage Monday.

First Lady Kim Jung-sook served as godmother of the container ship and cut the ropes to officially christen  the Algeciras, named for the Spanish port city, during the ceremony, which was attended by such dignitaries as South Korea President Moon Jae-in as well as HMM President and CEO Bae Jae-hoon.

The HMM Algeciras is the first of 12 massive 24,000-TEU vessels scheduled to be delivered through September.

HMM signed a contract for 20 eco-friendly megaships with three shipyards — DSME, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) — in September 2018.

Of the 24,000-TEU ships ordered, DSME will build seven and SHI five. HHI will construct eight 16,000-TEU container ships that will be delivered beginning in the second quarter of 2021.

All 20 container ships are being equipped with scrubbers to meet the International Maritime Organization regulation that requires vessels to burn fuel with less than 0.5% sulfur or have exhaust-cleaning systems.

HMM said an optimized hull design and highly efficient engine also are expected to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

The South Korean ocean shipping line announced in November that it was joining the Getting to Zero Coalition and had committed to reducing carbon emissions from its ships by 70% from 2008 levels by 2030 and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

“It is very meaningful that HMM takes delivery of the most technologically advanced container ship in this difficult time,” President Moon said, referring during Thursday’s ceremony to the coronavirus pandemic that has affected ocean trade globally.  

HMM officially became part of THE Alliance with Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming and Ocean Network Express on April 1. HMM announced last July that it would make the move from the 2M alliance with Maersk and MSC.

“HMM will strive to expand its presence in the global shipping industry based on optimized fleet management and new cooperation with THE Alliance,” said Bae, who was named CEO in March 2019, about a month after former leader C.K. Yoo delivered a “farewell message” to staff.

HMM said in an email to American Shipper at the time that Yoo, who had served as CEO since late 2016, made “his own decision” to resign. But The Wall Street Journal reported he “offered to resign after months of being under pressure from its top creditor to quit over failures in its turnaround.”

In October, HMM, saddled with nearly $3.5 billion of debt, announced plans to issue a $562 million convertible bond. An equities analyst at that time said the South Korean shipping line had a “horrible balance sheet.”

The HMM Algeciras will be deployed on one of The Alliance’s Asia-North Europe trade lanes, with a port rotation that begins in Qingdao. The megaship will visit the Asian ports of Busan, Ningbo, Shanghai and Yantian before transiting the Suez Canal to call at European ports in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; and London. The Algeciras will then sail to Singapore via the Suez Canal.

The Algeciras will sail under the flag of Panama. It is approximately 1,310 feet  in length, with a beam of about 200 feet  and depth of more than 108 feet.