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Grand Alliance to add 20 ships

Grand Alliance partners P&O Nedlloyd, Hapag-Lloyd, Orient Overseas Container Line and NYK Line expect to deploy more than 20 large containerships this year to expand their east/west services.

P&O Nedlloyd will take delivery of nine new vessels this year, Hapag-Lloyd will have seven and OOCL at least five.

Details of the deployment and its effects on capacity have not been finalised. Sources within the Grand Alliance said that the new ships will be employed in the alliance's existing Pacific, Asia/Europe and Atlantic trades and will displace some of the large vessels there now. In turn, the vessels replaced by the new ships will replace smaller ships in other services.

The Pacific-Atlantic-Express pendulum service connecting Asia, North America and North Europe, which operates with 13 ships of 3,000TEUs each, will be one of the services to get extra capacity.

By the second half of this year, it will be upgraded to a Panamax-size fleet of 4,600TEUs each, boosting capacity by 50% in both the transatlantic and transpacific trades, Hapag-Lloyd said.

The change will coincide with a general re-grouping of the Grand Alliance in the Atlantic in mid-year. P&O Nedlloyd and OOCL will leave their vessel-sharing agreement with Maersk Sealand and may have more need of transatlantic space in PAX, sources within the alliance said. American Shipper NewsWire