DENMARK-– ASIA – AFRICA – Danish shipping group A.P. Moller Maersk has released details of the direction being taken by subsidiary Safmarine which it believes will open up an expanding market between Asia and Africa. With the recent delivery of the MV Safmarine Samba, the first of the six new Multi Purpose Vessels (MPV’s) that it ordered in August 2008, Safmarine saw the delivery of the first MPV to join its fleet since it became part of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group in 1999.
Fifteen of Safmarine's fleet of 68 vessels are MPVs, which can carry both breakbulk cargo and containers. These are specifically designed to carry odd-sized and heavy cargo which is unsuitable for containers, such as locomotives, construction equipment, and steel products and pipes and the remaining five ships on order are all scheduled to be delivered in 2011.
MPV’s are a more suitable alternative to standard container carriers in new and developing markets where port facilities and material requirements can vary considerably and to demonstrate the seriousness with which the company is taking on the trade Safmarine have asked their Asian Regional Head, Grant Daly, to set up a newly structured dedicated department. He commented:
"Whilst focusing on our core strength and expertise in Africa, we believe that developing our MPV business in Asia is the right approach going forward. The increasing global importance of the Asian economies, supported by the changing trade and sourcing patterns toward Asia make our commitment to this service ever more important."
The structure and design of an MPV means it can load and offload in smaller ports by using its own on board cranes and utilise tween deck panels to construct separate stowage areas for under and on deck loading meaning both general cargo and box traffic can be loaded simultaneously. Safmarine’s Hu Ke, Asia Line Manager, MPV Service explained the role of the new ships:
"Currently, we have a monthly service between Far East Asia and West Africa, with vessels calling at ports in China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and West Africa. The six new MPV’s will allow us to increase our frequency to a bi-weekly service, and cover more Asian ports, for example in Japan and Indonesia.
"Countries such as Japan, Korea and South-East Asia have regular shipments of breakbulk cargo including equipment and rolling stocks to Africa. The swift development of China in recent years has also led to increased project cargo being shipped from China to Africa and raw materials from Africa being returned to China.”