China COSCO has ordered 11 container ships from four Chinese shipbuilders in a $1.51 billion order that will propel the country’s largest shipping line into the big league of giant vessel owners.
The ships, which will have the capacity to carry up to 19,000 20-foot containers (TEU), will be delivered by the shipyards in 2018, COSCO said in a stock exchange statement late on Wednesday.
Such huge box ships are in hot demand as shipping lines try to lower costs, particularly on Asia-Europe trade routes, amid a persistent slump in the global shipping market.
COSCO’s order follows Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas International Ltd’s $997.55 million order for six 21,100 TEU ships in April, and French liner CMA CGM’s March order of three 20,600 TEU vessels, both of which were placed at Korean shipyards.
China Shipping Container Lines already operates a 19,100 TEU vessel which was the largest in the world when it launched in November 2014, and has four more under order.
COSCO’s orders were placed at yards owned by two COSCO subsidiaries, as well as two others owned by China State Shipbuilding Corporation and China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation.
It said it would fund the deal using internal resources and bank borrowings.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates)