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Friday, Dec 13, 2002

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SCI, partners to ply bigger vessels on Europe route

Santanu Sanyal

KOLKATA, Dec. 12

SHIPPING Corporation of India (SCI) and its partners are to place higher capacity vessels on various mainline services jointly run by them.

A beginning has been made with the Indian Sub-continent - Europe Service (ISES), covering the trade route to the UK and Europe. SCI and its partners in ISES, namely Zim, Yang Ming Line, Malaysian International Shipping Company, Evergreen and K Line, launched the higher capacity vessels on the route early this year.

The ISES members now deploy 2,200-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) capacity vessels instead of the earlier 1,800-2,000 TEU capacity vessels.

SCI operates two vessels on the route and the others one each, the frequency being one sailing every week.

From February, higher capacity vessels are to be launched on the INDFEX I service between Jawaharlal Nehru Port and Busan, also covering ports such as Colombo, Singapore, Port Klang, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The 1,500-TEU capacity vessels, currently operated on the route, are to be replaced by 1,800-2,000-TEU capacity vessels.

SCI's other partners on the route are K Line, Dongnama and PIL. The service was launched in June 2001.

From April, higher capacity vessels are to be placed on the Indamex service to the US East Coast. The 1,400-TEU capacity vessels currently operated on the route are to be replaced by 2,200-TEU capacity vessels.

SCI's partners in the service include APL, Contship and CMA/CGM combine.

While SCI and APL operate one vessel each, Contship and CMA/CGM operate three each; the route being Colombo-Tuticorin-JNP-New York-Charleston-Norfolk.

The distance between JNP and New York is covered within the record 21 days.

Will the introduction of higher capacity vessels usher in a rise in freight too? Perhaps yes.

As sources close to these shipping lines point out, the freight increase has become imperative irrespective of the size and capacity of the vessels.

The bunker charges and other operational costs are going up and the shipping lines will be hard put to absorb the impact of the rise in input costs for long.

The cargo support for the US trade is by and large one way in the sense that while there is no dearth of the west-bound traffic, hardly anything is offered for the east-bound leg.

The plan for introducing higher capacity vessels is to meet the burgeoning demand for shipping space on the west-bound sector.

The South-East Asia trade, on the other hand, is by and large retail in nature and more or less evenly balanced in both the directions, observe the shipping sources.

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