French shipping company CMA CGM has signed shipbuilding contracts for its nine 22,000 TEU Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) with state-run China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) Group.
The nine vessels will be the largest containerships ever constructed.
The shipbuilding contracts come on the heels of CMA CGM confirming its plan to construct the long-rumored vessels last week in its second-quarter results.
In August, Chinese media reported that CMA CGM had issued Letter of Intent for the vessels at two CSSC shipyards, beating out South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries for the order.
In its statement on Tuesday, CMA said the contracts were signed with Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group), Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and China Shipbuilding Trading Co. (CSTC), all three of which of which are part of CSSC. At 22,000 TEU, the containerships for CMA CGM will be the largest in the world by carrying capacity, beating out the 21,413 TEU OOCL Hong Kong for the title.
Delivery of the vessels is expected to commence in 2019.
The contracts represent the first order for ultra-large containerships (>14,000 TEU) since the third quarter of 2015.
Although CMA CGM said last week that the container shipping market continues to recover, some have speculated that the giant ship order could send ripples across tradelanes as freights rates finally strengthen from the historic lows experienced in 2016 and many have questioned whether the order was necessary.
In August, MSC was also rumored to be finalizing an order for eleven 22,000 TEU ships.
According to Alphaliner data, there are currently 59 ULCVs already in service between Asia and North Europe, and that number will increase to 105 ships in the 14,000-22,000 TEU range by 2019 – not including CMA CGM’s nine newbuilds or the rumored for MSC.