Maersk Line COO Reiterates: No expectation to use third Triple-E option

An illustration of Maersk's Triple-E 18,000teu containership. Photo: Maersk Line

COPENHAGEN (Dow Jones)–Danish Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, has yet to decide whether to exercise an option to increase its Triple-E vessel orders to 30 from 20, but doesn’t expect to do so, a senior company executive said Tuesday.

Maersk Line, a unit of Danish industrial conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S (MAERSK-B.KO), has ordered two tranches of 10 Triple-E ships from South Korean manufacturer Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., and has an option to order a further 10 before the end of February 2012.

“We have not taken the decision yet, but we do not expect to use the option,” Maersk Line Chief Operating Officer Morten Engelstoft said.

Since Maersk Line ordered the first two tranches of the Triple-E ships and secured the option, the global economy has deteriorated, shipping rates have dropped to unsustainable lows and the shipping industry has ramped up orders of new tonnage for the key Asia-Europe routes that Maersk had ordered the Triple-E ships for.

Tuesday’s statement was a repetition of previous comments made by Engelstoft.

“It’s good to have the option open, but I don’t expect that our estimated capacity needs will have changed substantially by year-end, and this would mean we won’t exercise the option,” Engelstoft told Dow Jones Newswires in June.

With a price tag of $190 million each, a length of 400 meters and a capacity of 18,000 twenty-foot containers, the Triple-E vessels are the biggest container ships ever built. The 20 ships ordered are due for delivery between 2013 and 2015.

-By Flemming Emil Hansen, Copenhagen Bureau; Dow Jones Newswires