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New container power structure

When the first ship of Ocean Alliance called at Gdańsk, it meant the end of the system that existed since January 2010 and which had originated when deep-sea container ships of Maersk Line had begun sailing directly into the Baltic Sea. This system was initially breached in February 2015, when first ship of 2M alliance appeared in DCT Gdańsk, where Maersk’s partner was one of the biggest liner ship owners in the world, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).

But only the appearance of Ocean Alliance clearly changes the existing power structure. That’s because this alliance, uniting the CMA CGM Group, Cosco Shipping Lines, Orient Overseas Container Lines and Evergreen Line is the biggest of the three liner shipping operators between Far East and Europe; it deals with 41% services and 37% of ship capacity on this route. Similarly as in case of 2M, also this alliance enters into the Baltic waters the biggest ships of its fleet, with the capacity of between 19 and 21 thousand TEU. The CSCL Arctic Ocean ship, which inaugurated its new service in Gdańsk on 17th May, has the capacity of 18,982 TEU, but the currently biggest container ship in the world, OOCL Hong Kong with the capacity of 21,413 TEU, will call at DCT at the end of June this year.

All four ship owners belonging to Ocean Alliance have already appeared in our port but exclusively via feeder, own and public services. Direct entrance to the Baltic of its deep-sea ships means not only far-reaching change in the power structure between these ports, mainly between Gdańsk and Gdynia, but also in the power structure of the entire sea, and even beyond its borders. Representatives of ship owners, present at the inauguration of service in DCT, spoke about launching new feeder services, including those to St. Petersburg and Kotka. This means that their plan for Gdańsk to be a connecting port – hub for other Baltic ports. The representatives of OOCL CMA CGM mentioned that in their headquarters it is considered to transfer some trans-shipments from Hamburg and Rotterdam to Gdańsk, from deep-sea ships to feeders providing services for various ports of the Baltic states. Regardless of the Baltic surroundings, Polish market on its own is seen by the ship owners of the alliance as promising because of the fast-growing GDP and export of our country, as well as those of our neighbours: Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine.

It is worth reminding that since 1st April this year, 3 big alliances of container ship owners have begun their operations; those alliances have been created in the place of 4 previous ones. In addition to the already mentioned Ocean Alliance, those are: THE Alliance, comprising Hapag-Lloyd from UASC, K-Line, MOL, NYK, Yang Ming and 2M comprising of Maersk Line and MSC. New alliances take up 77.2% of global container fleet, in particular 96% of it at the most busy shipping route of the world, Asia – Europe.

One of the panels at the Maritime Economy Forum Gdynia 2017 shall be dedicated to maritime logistics and container market.


Article developed in cooperation with  "Namiary na Morze i Handel" magazine.

phot. Tadeusz Urbaniak/ZMPG-a S.A

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