SM Line is now seeking ways to procure more ships to operate its Transpacific services, after the South Korean liner operator’s slot-sharing deal with the 2M Alliance ended on 8 May.

SM Line, now running Transpacific services as a solo operator, has confirmed to Container News that it had sought and failed to charter two of the six 4,600 TEU ships, which compatriot rival HMM had sold to ship finance institution Korea Ocean Business Corporation on leaseback terms.

SM Line needs more tonnage to meet strong demand from South Korean exporters, who are facing tight slot capacity and high freight costs.

The company had hoped it could charter the aforementioned ships as the lease to HMM expired this month.

However, HMM had first priority over the vessel lease renewal. SM Line is now considering buying second-hand ships or cooperating with other operators.

A spokesperson for SM Line told Container News, “SM Line had inquired KOBC whether we can participate in the vessel chartering program that KOBC provided to HMM. After the end of the cooperation with 2M, SM Line is reviewing various options such as vessel purchase, chartering, and cooperation with other shipping companies to expand the company’s fleet capacity and business network.”

The six vessels are understood to be Hyundai Dynasty, Hyundai Forward, Hyundai Grace, Hyundai Supreme, Hyundai Unity and Hyundai Voyager.

“The six 4,600 TEU container ships mentioned originally belonged to HMM, and we have used them under the sale and leaseback contract with KOBC, signed in 2017. We want to reiterate that contract renewal was finalised based on proper procedures so that HMM has a prior claim to the vessels,” an HMM spokesperson said.

Source : Container News