SM Line will deploy just one transpacific string from next month

Brand new liner firm SM Line from South Korea is scaling back on its transpacific foray. SM Line had planned to launch two strings to the US west coast next month, but analysts at Alphaliner are now reporting just one service will be put into operation in March.

The new service – China America Express – will turn in five weeks with five former Hanjin ships of 6,655 teu capacity connecting Shanghai, Ningbo and Busan to Los Angeles.

SM Line has recently taken on a total of eight former Hanjin 6,655 teu ships for around $96m. It has also bought the 4,253 teu Hammonia Pescara from Germany’s Hammonia Reederei as well as a 1,118 teu ship from Hamburgbased Laeisz Schiffahrt in what has been a very fast fleet build up.

Late last year, SM Line officials outlined plans to grow the fleet to around 110,000 slots. The company was only officially unveiled in December. SM Line belongs to Samra Midas Group, best known as a Korean construction firm, but which also owns dry bulk concern, Korea Line.

In addition to buying ships, SM Line has also been active on the chartering front, and has already fixed two ships, the 1,498 teu, RCL-controlled Itha Bhum for a period of 4-12 months, as well as the 1,440 teu Simatech Sapphire for a period of 4-10 months, both likely to be deployed on SM’s intra-Asia network.

“We have seen shippers fail in the past because they had very weak customer networks and little experience in the trans-Pacific business, but our company has business know-how, human resources, and systems used by Hanjin Shipping in its 40 years of history as a shipper and 28 years of business experience on trans-Pacific routes,” Kim Chil-bong, CEO of SM Lines, said in a statement released last month.

“Our goal is to offer competitive pricing based on customised service to our customers, not offering them low cost against market trends.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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