MSC Oscar at seatrial (3)

MSC appears intent on having the largest vessel orderbook; brokers have reported that the world’s largest liner operator has ordered ten 11,400 teu ships from China’s Zhoushan Changhong International Shipyard.

Delivery is expected in 2025 and 2026.

The price was not disclosed, although similar ships ordered by MSC at New Times Shipbuilding last year are valued at around $122m each and this vessel class is typically deployed on the transpacific or Asia-South America lanes.

MSC doesn’t publish newbuilding orders and vessel acquisitions, but if the reports are true, MSC will have stretched its orderbook to 134 ships, totalling 1.84m teu. The carrier is expecting delivery of 14 megamax and 22 neo-panamax ships this year.

As container freight rates soared to historical highs, amid Covid-19-induced logistical bottlenecks, MSC has been the most active in fleet expansion, both through secondhand purchases and newbuilding orders.

In 2021, MSC acquired 411,000 teu and last year added 321,500 teu, including a few newbuildings, enabling the company to unseat Maersk Line from the top of the global liner rankings.

MSC’s fleet currently stands at approximately 4.6m teu, 379,000 teu more than its Danish peer, after losing 61,700 teu last year when it redelivered chartered tonnage.

Even though ship sales activities halved last year as the freight market normalised, MSC continues to trawl the market for second-hand ships, picking up bargains as asset values fall amid the softening conditions. Last month, it bought the 2003-built 2,824 teu Carpathia from MPC Container Ships for $21m – a valuation that had halved from April 2022.

MSC’s latest reported newbuild orders also increase Zhoushan Changhong’s concentration on boxships. Apart from this order, the shipyard has 23 box ships to build for customers including MSC subsidiary Log-In Logistica Intermodal, Greek tonnage provider Navios Maritime Partners, Chinese liner operator Starocean Marine Co and Singapore-based X-Press Feeders.

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