With rejuvenated rosters, shipping lines prepared for new Seaway season

By Alex Binkley

With steadily growing rosters of modern vessels, Canadian shipping lines are hoping for a strong start to the 2017 season so their new assets can show their worth. Louis Martel, Executive Vice-President and Incoming CEO of the CSL Group, says tough times in the global maritime industry in recent years have his company clearly focused on ways to improve its bottom line. “Amid the continued volatility, we at Canada Steamship Lines are staying focused on reducing costs, gaining efficiencies and improving the overall performance and flexibility of our operations by taking full advantage of our modern fleet and leveraging new technologies. Shipping markets are by nature cyclical, but the uncertainty we have witnessed in the past few years is unprecedented in recent history, and putting enormous pressures on shipping companies worldwide. We hope to see a market recovery in 2017, but we’re not counting on it,” he added. “Although the 2016 Great Lakes shipping season was better than originally expected thanks to an uptake in grain demand in the fall, we are very far from the types of results we were seeing in previous years.”

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NEAS to benefit from infrastructure spending and northern mining activities

By Brian Dunn

NEAS Group President and CEO Suzanne Paquin is relieved that business in 2016 was better than it was in 2015, when ice and unfavorable wind conditions delayed the start of the Arctic shipping season by several weeks. “Things went quite a bit smoother than in 2015, although we had some (late) ice in Ungava Bay last year. We’re getting good cooperation from the Coast Guard as the delivery of goods is an important service to northern communities. We did 11 voyages in 2016, compared to an average of 12 most years.”

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Capacity crunch on box ships to Asia: Maersk first to stop taking bookings, as air freight awaits boost

By Mike Wackett and Alex Lennane

On March 1, Maersk Line stopped booking export containers from Europe to Asia and the Middle East, according to market sources, while capacity is said to be extremely tight for other lines. Air freight could feel the benefit, if the capacity crunch continues, according to one forwarder.

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Bad news for carriers in contract talks as transpacific spot rates soften

By Gavin van Marle in Long Beach

Container shipping lines operating on the transpacific trade, hoping pre-Chinese New Year gains in spot market eastbound rates would lead to higher 2017 annual contract rates, could be disappointed. Delegates at the TPM conference in Long Beach heard that, although there was an unexpected boost to spot rates levels in the early part of the year, the market has subsequently begun to soften, and on the sidelines of the conference talk was of annual rate levels that will do well to better $1,000 per 40ft.

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Maersk Line defers delivery of new containerships to prop up cashflow

By Mike Wackett

Maersk Line is to postpone delivery of nine newbuild 14,000 TEU ‘utility’ ships with the last vessel to be received at the end of 2018, instead of at the end of this year. At parent group APMM’s 2016 results presentation on Wednesday, CFO Jakob Stausholm said: “We have managed to delay delivery at no cost, and operationally it actually fits us quite okay.”

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Bullish HMM announces new transpacific services and strives to ‘rebuild trust’

By Mike Wackett

As the transpacific contract season begins, restructured South Korean carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) has announced plans for its U.S. west coast service after it exits the G6 alliance in April. According to Alphaliner data, HMM will offer three Asia-USWC links, deploying 19 vessels of 6,300-6,800 TEU capacities, with a weekly capacity of some 19,000 TEUs. The PS1 loop will call at Long Beach, PS2 will serve Los Angeles and Oakland and PS3 will call at Tacoma and Vancouver.

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With shipping coalitions set for launch, HMM snaps up more Hanjin terminals

By Gavin van Marle

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) has continued to pick at the bones of erstwhile compatriot Hanjin, announcing the acquisition of more of its terminal network. HMM said it had agreed to pay W15bn ($13.15 million) for Hanjin Pacific Corporation’s container terminals in Tokyo and Kaohsiung. The price includes purchase and a security deposit on the lease of Tokyo port.

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Surging steel price boosts scrap value of redundant containerships

By Mike Wackett

A sharp increase in steel prices has prompted a new wave of vessel scrapping, bringing the supply-demand ratio in container shipping further into balance. According to the latest report from London shipbroker Braemar ACM, containership scrapping this year has already reached 56, amounting to 185,500 TEUs. This compares with 16 ships (45,000 TEUs) in the same period of 2016.

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Hanjin collapse and weak charter market blamed as Danaos sinks into the red

By Mike Wackett

Greek containership owner Danaos slumped to a $366 million loss in 2016 after a $117 million profit the previous year. As a consequence of Hanjin charter terminations, Danaos was obliged to recognise a $205 million impairment loss in its accounts, as well as a $210 million write-down on 18 other ships in its fleet, reflecting dire market conditions, especially for panamax vessels.

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