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Container ro-ro ships now hard to find

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FRANCE : Container ro-ro ships, which carry containers, vehicles and other rolling cargos, are becoming a rarity due to the dearth of such vessel orders in recent years, according to Alphaliner’s latest report, released 26 April.

Last week, Grimaldi Lines took delivery of one such ship, Great Antwerp, which is one of six sister vessels ordered at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea. Great Antwerp, which has a capacity of 2,000 TEUs, was the first conro vessel built in six years, after Grimaldi affiliate Atlantic Container Line received Atlantic Sun in May 2017.

Alphaliner observed, “The youngest conros in the liner fleet were actually delivered in 2018-2020 to the US operators Crowley and Matson but they have been excluded from our count of deep sea conros as these four ships were built for Jones Act trading to/from Hawaii or Puerto Rico. If we exclude all conros and roro ships operated on domestic or shortsea routes, we see that Grimaldi Group, Linea Messina and the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) are the only three carriers left operating conro tonnage on long distance routes.”

Grimaldi remains the largest conro player, boasting 35 ships connecting Europe and North America with West and Central Africa and the East Coast of South America.

Great Antwerp and its five sister ships, which are expected to be delivered from July 2023 to July 2024, were ordered to replace older Grimaldi ships which have already been in service for 25 years.

Guido Grimaldi, Deep Sea Commercial & Operations Director of the Grimaldi Group, commented, “This new series of ships responds even more efficiently to the demand for quality transport services on deep sea routes, and to the needs related to the protection of the environment. We are thus taking a further important step within a path undertaken for several years now, aiming to operate on our main routes with a young, modern and eco-sustainable fleet.”

As the average age of the deep sea conro fleets of Linea Messina and Bahri is much younger, no new orders are expected from their side.

Alphaliner opined that Linea Messina’s fleet may even contract by one ship shortly as the Jolly Quarzo has left its liner network between the Mediterranean, East and South Africa, the Red Sea, the Middle East and India and Pakistan. Jolly Quarzo has moved to Norfolk and is reported to have been sold to US carrier Liberty Global Logistics to transport military cargo.

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