CULines ship Laila
CULines' containership Laila (Photo: CULines)

China United Lines (CULines) is venturing towards larger ships, ordering a pair of 7,000 teu vessels from Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) on Friday.

CULines co-CEO Raymond Chen and SWS chairman Wang Qi attended a ship construction contract signing ceremony, with delivery expected in H224.

The newbuilding price was not disclosed although VesselsValue estimates the current price of a similar ship at around $78m.

Majority controlled by the Chinese state, CULines started out as an NVOCC before launching intra-Asia liner services with chartered ships, and last year joined several other players venturing into long-haul routes amid the firming freight market.

The company’s decision to order 7,000 teu ships indicates its commitment to long-haul routes, and comes just 10 days after commissioning a pair of 2,700 teu ships at CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding.

Mr Chen said that by ordering more newbuildings, CULines was “helping stabilise the national supply chain amid unprecedented tightness in shipping capacity, and contributing to the development of Shanghai into an international shipping centre and free trade zone”.

He added: “We’re also responding to the ministry of transport’s recommendations on building smart and environmentally friendly ships, and for shipping companies and shipbuilders to establish mutually beneficial and win-win relationships.”

The latest order brings CULines’ orderbook to 10, including four 1,900 teu ships at Wenchong and two 2,400 teu vessels at Yangzijiang. On 31 January, the company applied to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, but gave no timeframe.

CULines’ orders stretches SWS’s success in clinching orders for 7.000 teu vessels. Mr Wang said SWS has now 30 orders, for clients such as X-Press Feeders, TS Lines and Seaspan.

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