Exploring the OOCL UNITED KINGDOM vessel

Exploring the OOCL UNITED KINGDOM vessel

At the end of September, OOCL commemorated the christening of the latest 21,413 TEU containership to join their fleet this year and last Friday they kindly invited one of the Tuscor Lloyds team to visit the Port of Felixstowe to help them celebrate the vessels maiden voyage.

Named the OOCL UNITED KINGDOM, the vessel is one of the carrier’s ‘G Class’ vessels which are known to be the world’s largest by carrying capacity. The OOCL fleet is planned to contain 6 vessels in total and OOCL United Kingdom is the 4th vessel after OOCL Germany / Hong Kong / Japan.



“The shipbuilding process is a complicated one. From hull form design, machinery selection, fabrication to assembly, the shipyard must be able to bring a concept on paper to become a technically sound and economically viable product for the shipowner, the shipyard, the makers and sub-contractors. Adding on the fact that many aspects of this class of vessels are in fact record-breaking, be it size or machinery capacity and output, I think SHI should be very proud that it has achieved this goal in the safest and most efficient manner.”


Mr Alan Tung

Chief Financial Officer , OOCL

On Friday, Nathan Lang, who is a part of our Operations team had the unique opportunity to enjoy a mini-tour of Felixstowe port and to visit & board the OOCL United Kingdom. What was his impression of this brand new mega vessel? Let’s hear him out:

‘’The day consisted of a mini-tour of the port and then a visit to the vessel where we got to board and visit the captains bridge; once on board the vessel, there was a lift available up to the captains Bridge, or you could walk up the stairs; I took the stairs both up and down; it was 9 x stories & safe to say walking down was easier than walking up. On the bridge, the captain kindly gave us his time to explain different aspects of the vessel/operations and to answer questions across a range of topics that included DG cargo/Reefer Cntr’s/Breakbulk cargo – crew welfare + revealing that the vessel had its own football pitch as one of the facilities available for the crew! The port also presented the captain with maiden voyage plaques for the vessel.

It was an incredible experience and gave a unique insight into port & vessel operations. Prior to boarding I felt like an ant looking up at the vessel and the masses of stacked containers and when on board, looking out from the captain’s bridge in the windy conditions, wasn’t for the faint-hearted’’

Nathan Lang

Tuscor Lloyds

Click on the picture to see the slideshow with more photos from the event!


Big thanks to OOCL for this amazing opportunity!

Both Nathan and our mini Tuscor Ted enjoyed the day with you!

“Connecting Ships, Ports and People”- World Maritime Day 2017

“Connecting Ships, Ports and People”- World Maritime Day 2017

Today we celebrate world maritime day, and the theme for this year is “Connecting Ships, Ports and People


At the heart of Tuscor Lloyds is the knowledge that our industry is the backbone of world trade, and that without people that trade would not be possible.

The theme for 2017 was chosen to provide an opportunity to focus on the many diverse actors involved in the shipping and logistics areas. The theme enables us to shine a spotlight on the existing cooperation between ports and ships to maintain and enhance a safe, secure and efficient maritime transportation system.

The World Maritime Day themes for 2016 and 2017 are complementary and may be seen as a response to United Nations post-2015 sustainable development agenda and, in particular, the Sustainable Development Goals. For 2016, the theme was “Shipping: indispensable to the world” – chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and the everyday lives of people all over the planet and to raise awareness of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping.

At Tuscor Lloyds we have always placed the utmost importance in interacting with our community that extends far into the realms of navigation, with customers in oil and gas, construction, mining, energy and renewables, all of whom depend on us to transport their materials throughout the world.


We recommend taking the time to read over the IMO’s background paper – a piece describing the crucial role the shipping industry plays in today’s global society.

The World Maritime Day Parallel Event will be held in Panama (1-3 October 2017).



Read Between the Shipping Lines – Part 2

Read Between the Shipping Lines – Part 2

When Cosco acquired OOCL, we discussed the diplomatic conflict playing out through international shipping lines. Here the international trade saga continues.

(Read Part 1 Here!)

Shipping line rankings are the battlefield and TEU capacity is the game. The Chinese state owned Cosco moved to third in the global carrier rankings after the acquisition of the Hong Kong liner OOCL was announced. Cosco overtook the French, CMA CGM who comfortably sat in third for some time. But rumours of Cosco purchasing a 24% stake in CMA CGM presented the French carrier with further worries.

The near quarter stake up for sale comes from the Yildirim family, who originally pumped US$500 million into CMA CGM during the financial crisis. The liner carried billions in debts and the investment was made in conjunction with the Fonds Stratégique d’Investissement (FSI), a publicly owned French company, in order to stabilise the business at times of financial unsettlement. The Yildirim’s asked China’s Citic Bank to oversee the shares transaction, leaving CMA CGM in a vulnerable position for a Cosco take over.

If (or is ‘when’ more appropriate?) Cosco acquire Yildirim’s shares, the Chinese carrier would secure the title of top liner, whilst becoming the de-facto controller of Terminal Link, a terminal subsidiary of CMA CGM in which Cosco already has a 49% stake. Terminal Link operates in France’s biggest ports with addition operations through Europe, Africa and Asia.

This thought must have China licking its lips. Essentially falling upon more port infrastructure would help its long term goal to dominate international trade. China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is a Eurasian connectivity scheme to enhance Chinese export profitability. Financing port terminals, railways and public services in economies along the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea has opened shipping lanes to Europe’s massive consumer market. The plan will give Cosco ships carrying Chinese exports easy access to expensive markets and adding more European ports, with the new extra capacity, is an attractive prospect for the Chinese.

However, the French government may have a word or two about this. The FSI, who currently have a 6% stake in CMA CGM, is owned 49% by the French government and 51% by the Caisse des Depots et Consignations, a public sector financial group. CMA CGM has a revenue over US$16 billion and employs hundreds across France so it is both the board’s and the government’s best interest to keep the liner alive and in France.

And the French have responded. Splash 247 reported of a rumoured CMA CGM order of nine 22000 TEU capacity vessels. This added TEU capacity should fetch a bronze place for CMA CGM and give them a chance to survive as Cosco are hot on their heels.

But the order book is mostly a vanity project; a big French two fingers up to overcapacity and this could cloud recent optimism from industry analysts, who have predicted a period of profitability for shipping lines.

Nevertheless, if the rumours are true, the new vessels will do one of two things: 1.) genuinely end Cosco’s efforts, or 2.) completely cease European competition if Cosco does acquire CMA CGM.

Splash 247 also added the construction contract will be awarded to the Chinese company, Shanghai Waigoquia Shipbuilding (SWS) or the South Korean, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), giving equal chances to the Far East firms but this French/Chinese conflict is on multiple fronts.

SWS’s owners, Chinese State Shipping Corporation (CSSC) has links to the Italian state owned shipbuilders, Fincantieri whom French President, Emmanuel Macron has recently clashed with. Government representatives on CMA CGM’s board could move the carrier away from Chinese yards to support the conflict in another sector.

Macron and his economy minister, Bruno La Maire temporary nationalised the Saint Nazaire shipyard, Chantiers de l’Atlantique to block Fincantieri getting their hands on it. Chantiers de l’Atlantique is the only yard in the world with the knowledge and capabilities of constructing the world’s biggest cruise ships.

2 thirds of the yard were owned by the South Korean firm, STX with the other third by the French state. With STX collapsing, the state bought out 100% of the yard rather than allowing the open 66% go to the Italian shipbuilders, who were the only willing buyers. So it seems the French administration has seen another Chinese threat to French maritime power.

Fincantieri is partners with CSSC, who, together, plan on growing Chinese cruise shipbuilding. 2 cruises are expected to be built on Chinese soil, possibly another 4 after that, and the French Ministers of State believe Fincantieri could take local shipbuilding expertise out of France.

Macron offered Fincantieri a 50:50 share with the government, to which the Italians refused.

Yet, the French President has been criticised. Many have called this ‘protectionist’ and ‘aggressive’ but this is pre-emption rights and the yard is an extremely valuable asset.

Cruises are the most profitable ships to construct. Royal Caribbean International paid US$1.35 billion to construct MS Harmony of the Seas, the world’s largest passenger ship, and Chantiers de l’Atlantique is the only yard capable of handling such projects. Compare that to the US$950 million paid to Samsung Heavy Industries for six, yes six, of the world’s largest container ships, then it becomes obvious why Macron took these measures.

Chantiers de l’Atlantique is key infrastructure wholly unique to France and it is idiotic, not laissez-faire, to let Fincantieri take the yard.

If Fincantieri gets their hands on Chantiers de l’Atlantique they can strip its assets, axe 2000 some French jobs and rip the heart out of Saint Nazaire’s historic shipbuilding tradition. Fincantieri can transfer French shipbuilding expertise to new business ventures in China, where wages are cheap and the steel is close-by. Blocking the sale to Fincantieri is a block against global Chinese maritime monopoly and the same can happen in container shipping. If CMA CGM is swallowed by Cosco this would give China near absolute power in international maritime trade.

The conflict has deepened. The entirety of French maritime power is under threat. Yet, it must be said, outdoing TEU is not a sustainable or effective response. But, for a Cosco competitor it’s a ‘two can play that game’ scenario.

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Consolidation of Container Shipping

Consolidation of Container Shipping

2016 saw a massive amount of change in the container shipping sector. The ongoing consolidation of the sector in one form or another flooded the headlines. To put this into context, it’s interesting to see how the level of consolidation relates to other parts of shipping, how it has developed over time and how it might progress.

It’s quite clear that the shipping industry is a fragmented business. Based on the start of 2017 Clarksons Research data, 88,892 ships in the world fleet were spread across 24,267 owners. That works out at less than 4 vessels per owner. Even though 145 owners with more than 50 ships accounted for almost 12,000 of the vessels, it’s still not that consolidated. The liner shipping business however is one of the more consolidated parts of shipping. As well as being home to some of the industry’s larger companies. At the start of the year, the 5,154 container ships in the fleet were owned by 622 owner groups, about 8 ships per owner, but, perhaps more relevantly, were operated by 326 carriers, about 16 ships per operator. Each of the top 8 operators deployed more than 100 ships. But despite the less fragmented nature of the sector, recent market conditions have led to another round of consolidation in the box business.

The three largest operators (by deployed capacity) at the start of 2017 were European: Maersk Line (647 vessels deployed) followed by MSC (453) and CMA-CGM (454). Of the remaining carriers in the top 20 all but three were based in Asia or the Middle East. However, what’s interesting is that out of the 20 largest carriers back in late 2014, 4 are now gone. CSAV was acquired by Hapag-Lloyd, NOL/APL by CMA-CGM and the two major Chinese lines merged. And of course, in late summer 2016, the financial collapse of Hanjin Shipping marked the sector’s biggest casualty in 30 years.

Box sector consolidation seems to actually be part of a long-term trend. Back in 1996 the top 10 carriers deployed 45% of capacity and at the start of 2017 that figure stood at 70%. The coming year is set to see Hapag-Lloyd complete its merger with UASC, and Maersk Line’s planned acquisition of Hamburg-Sud is also in the pipelines. The second half of last year also saw the three major Japanese operators declare their intention to merge containership operations in a joint venture due to be established this year and start operations in 2018. The ‘scenario’ based on these changes would see the top 10’s share at 79%, nearly twice as much as 20 years ago.

The geopolitical alliances that are in the pipe lines are turning the box sector into a Monopoly game, with Europe owning Mayfair and China owning Park Lane. Within the current business model, continued consolidation might be needed for the container shipping industry to be profitable. They need size to finance and fill bigger ships. Many hope this will help the recalibration of market fundamentals and eventually support improved market conditions.

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Mergers: Read between the Shipping Lines

Mergers: Read between the Shipping Lines

Since deregulation in the 1990s, our industry has witnessed many mergers and there are rumours endlessly flowing about the next big acquisition. The market looks like it’s narrowing until only a handful of shipping lines, and a handful of countries, are competing for control.

The recent deal for Cosco to buy OOCL shows intent for the biggest market share. The $6.3 billion deal hopes to achieve “synergies”- this word appearing in merger press releases all too often. But shouldn’t synergies already be in place considering Cosco and OOCL make up one-half of Ocean Alliance?

This alliance is a 10-year vessel and slot sharing agreement between the French carrier CMA CGM, the Chinese state-backed Cosco, the Hong Kong line OOCL and the Taiwanese Evergreen Line. When Ocean was initiated in April 2017, CMA CGM was its biggest player contributing over 30% TEU capacity on the alliance’s trade routes.

But this changes as Cosco’s global TEU figure overtakes CMA CGM’s with the OOCL purchase. Some have cited political motivations, not synergies, behind the recent acquisition as China attempts to grow its international influence.

China plays the leading role on the global trade stage. It manufactures up to 20% of the world’s consumer products and China believes it should dictate how the theatre is run but they have to get around the European theatre directors first.

The OOCL buyout comfortably places Cosco as the world’s 3rd biggest line based on TEU capacity but Cosco’s goal is to beat European dominance in the industry. So rumours of a Cosco bid for 24% of CMA CGM has made Western shipping lines uneasy.

The raised tensions between shipping lines are playing out in international politics, as Olaf Merk suggests:

“Provided that the acquisitions of OOCL and Evergreen work out, buying only part of CMA CGM (say 24%) would help pushing COSCO beyond the reach of Maersk and make it world’s largest carrier…Over the coming months the Chinese will no doubt test the resolve of the French to block sales of CMA CGM shares to China. The French state might even consider to buy shares in CMA CGM to pre-empt the Chinese from doing so, which might be a logical consequence of the French discussion this year on what constitutes a strategic merchant fleet.”

What Merk highlights seem a trending point. The Japanese companies K-Line, MOL and NYK merging into ONE (Ocean Network Express) was blocked by the South African Competition Commission. They cited the previous collusion from the shipping lines, saying the deal could have anti-competitive effects.

ONE, who will take bookings from April next year, will become the 6th largest liner, with a TEU capacity that puts pressure on their THE Alliance colleagues, Hapag-Lloyd, who takes 5th place.

Don’t tell me that’s anti-competitive. The South African rejection of ONE highlights the West’s fear of an eastern influence which slowly trickles to the top of the freight industry, thus into the strategic control over global trade.

Both the Chinese President, Xi Jinping and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe envision their countries as export-based powerhouses and influential states in the international forum. To do that they must beat the current Western powerhouses. So Eastern shipping lines look to buy European competition to gain control of trade lanes and have a positive effect on Chinese and Japanese economies. Then the East will really challenge the current reign of Western power.

Only time will tell if the East can succeed.

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It’s Seafarers Awareness Week!

It’s Seafarers Awareness Week!

This week marks the 2017 Seafarers Awareness Week, established by the charity, Seafarers UK to promote maritime employment opportunities and recognise the essential contributions made to UK industry by the estimated 23,000 active seafarers. With over 90% of British imports coming in by sea, the seafarer’s role is vital, acting as the backbone of our industry. This week is dedicated to fundraising as well as the awareness of the wider issues around seafarer’s lives.

Life at sea, and life after it, can be lonely and laborious. The right support for seafarers is imperative and this is where Seafarers UK comes in.


British Imports Coming by Sea

“A large number of those serving will be facing problems of very different kinds; long periods of separation from friends and family extended periods of duty, fatigue, and working heavy machinery whilst being exposed to harsh weather. Such dangers and difficulties can lead to disability, depression, debt, relationship breakdown, homelessness or even death.”

Source: Seafarers UK

People Assisted by Seafarers UK in 2016

The work of Seafarers UK extends to; funding, welfare, education grants and advice on benefits, debt, housing and employment to ex-seafarers. In 2016 alone, the charity assisted nearly 200,000 people in the UK and are determined to grow further in 2017.



One of the charity’s more recent projects is the construction of the Seafarers UK Centenary Wing, a new accommodation complex in Mariners’ Park, Wallasey. The aim was to create a hub to support elderly and retired seafarers who may need extra assistance or care. In 2015 the project had £1.2m committed to it and fundraising continues to cover the remaining costs of the building and develop the hub’s facilities, fittings and furnishing.

Seafarers’ global contribution to the international economy and industry is often unseen, their issues unheard. Trade unions are used for seafarers make their voices clear, but ultimately it is the entire maritime industry’s responsibility to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of all seafarers. So continued promotion for Seafarers Awareness Week and support for Seafarers UK is important to ensure the well-being of these important figures in our industry.


If you would like to show your support to for the amazing seafarer, then donate to Seafarers UK following the link here!

Not so objective 2017 review

There are different attitudes that one can have towards the beginning of each new year. Some struggle to leave the past, overanalysing the previous months. Yet their clock is the only one that stopped. Others treat this opportunity as a blank page and...

Subscribe to Our Updates

Sign up to Tuscor Lloyds monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about news and offers as they are released and gain access to our latest project case studies!