Hapag-Lloyd christens new mega vessel

HAPAG-LLOYD has recently christened its latest mega containership, the "Kyoto Express".

The vessel was named in Yokohama, Japan, during a traditional Shinto ceremony attended by 200 guests recently.

Minako Kusakari, wife of the chairman of the shipping line NYK Line, Takao Kusakari, named the vessel to demonstrate the closeness of ties between Hapag-Lloyd and NYK, which have been partners for more than 35 years and co-operate in the Grand Alliance.

The mammoth 8,750 TEU Kyoto Express is equivalent in size to over three football pitches measuring 335 metres in length and 43 metres wide and will be deployed on a Grand Alliance service between Europe and the Far East on a Shanghai, Xiamen, Yantian, Hong Kong, Singapore, Southampton, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Port Kelang and Hong Kong routing.

The newbuild will join Hapag's fleet at a time when the outlook for continued growth in global container transport has been deemed to be "excellent", a statement from the company said.

Hapag-Lloyd will take delivery of a further seven ships with a capacity of 8,750 TEU through 2008.

Adolf Adrion, a member of the executive board of Hapag-Lloyd AG, said at the ceremony: "We will meet the wishes and logistics requirements of shippers in a reliable and competitive way and offer the highest quality [service]."

In October, Hapag-Lloyd's parent company TUI AG acquired a majority stake in the Canadian shipping line CP Ships. Following the integration of CP Ships, which is scheduled to be completed by 2007, Hapag-Lloyd will be one of the world's top five international container shipping companies.