Register for a free trial
Container Shipping & Trade

Container Shipping & Trade

Box ship leaders: digitalisation, LNG and business expansion

Fri 23 Nov 2018 by Rebecca Moore

Box ship leaders: digitalisation, LNG and business expansion
Maersk Group chief executive Søren Skou: the group's innovation department is busier than ever under Mr Skou

Container Shipping & Trade has chosen its top 20 industry leaders* for their trendsetting abilities, from using LNG to digitalisation, and for the way their companies are expanding and developing  


Rodolphe Saadé, CMA CGM vice chairman

CMA CGM is leading the way in a myriad of areas, from boosting its position as an intra-regional player, to entering the logistics arena and paving the way with its groundbreaking LNG-fuelled newbuild order of nine 22,000-TEU ships.

In October 2018, the carrier completed the acquisition of Containerships, a shortsea specialist in the intra-European market with a strong presence in the Baltic market, Russia, northern Europe, North Africa and Turkey. This acquisition is just the latest step by CMA CGM to strengthen its regional network. CMA CGM is also focused on boosting its logistics offering and to this end acquired a 25% stake in Ceva Logistics in May 2018.

Søren Skou, Maersk Group chief executive

Søren Skou is leading Maersk on a digitalisation path as well as setting trends by overseeing Maersk’s transition into an integrated logistics company. The company announced that on 1 January 2019, Damco’s supply chain services and Maersk Line’s ocean product will be integrated, and their value-added services combined and sold as Maersk products and services. Maersk is also boosting customer services as the first carrier to launch an instant booking confirmation for containers, allowing customers to complete their bookings within seconds. It is leading the way on digitalisation with the TradeLens blockchain-based freight management system it launched with IBM which will used by the entire industry.

Diego Aponte, MSC chief executive

Diego Aponte’s MSC is leading the way when it comes to ultra large container ships – it has 11 x 22,000-TEU ships currently being built that are set to launch from 2019, and it is setting trends by jumbo-sizing 10 14,000-TEU ships to turn them into 17,000-TEU box ships. This will no doubt be followed by other industry members – it is cheaper and faster to upgrade a current vessel compared to building a new one. It is also a leader in developing digitalisation after joining forces with Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and Ocean Network Express to pave the way for digitalisation and standardisation in the container shipping industry.

Xu Lirong, China COSCO Shipping Corp chairman

It has been a busy year for COSCO’s Xu Lirong – the Chinese shipping conglomorate has completed the takeover of OOCL, a move which has extended its power. It places it head and shoulders above its Ocean Alliance partners CMA CGM and Evergreen in terms of size. Post takeover, COSCO owns 49% of the Ocean Alliance fleet by value, 54% by TEU and 51% of the vessels by number, according to VesselsValue figures. The merger brings COSCO closer in capacity compared to Maersk Line. COSCO also has a major role in China’s Belt and Road initiative, with its port division aggressively buying stakes in Europe and elsewhere.

C C Tung, OOIL chairman

OOIL’s container arm OOCL is known for its good track record for above-average profits in a challenging market and a reputation for being a very well-run company. Its acquisition by COSCO will allow it to further develop and strengthen with such a powerful company behind it. Indeed, since the acquisition, it has already expanded: OOCL is expanding its services through COSCO’s network within the Asia-US Gulf and Asia-West Coast South America trades. This includes entering the Far East-West Coast South America market. OOCL is also expanding its Africa trade via COSCO’s service portfolio.

Rolf Habben Jansen, Hapag-Lloyd chief executive

Hapag-Lloyd is one of the container industry’s pioneers when it comes to quality, good service. Indeed, under Mr Habben Jansen, the carrier is embarking on a major strategy focused on quality service, concentrating on a strategy spanning market research, controlling schedules and greater interaction with terminals. See our feature on pages 4-7. Furthermore, it is pioneering the use of LNG in the container industry – Haag-Lloyd has 17 LNG-ready ships the carrier obtained through its acquisition of UASC, and plans to convert these ships to LNG.

Mong-Jye Lee, Evergreen president

Taiwanese carrier Evergreen has stood strong in the face of consolidation within the container shipping industry, despite its smaller size compared to partners in the Ocean Alliance. This year it has taken delivery of its largest ship – the first of 11 20,150-TEU ultra large container ships ordered from Japanese shipyard Imabari Group in October 2015.

Jeremy Nixon, ONE chief executive

This is the year that MOL, NYK and K Line merged – catapulting them into the top 10 largest container ship operators. Despite the fact that ONE has revised its profit outlook downwards from a positive US$110M to a negative -US$600M for the fiscal year 2018, it is early days and the carrier has plenty of opportunities and can capitalise on the strengths of its merger. As well as being given the opportunity to be as competitive as possible, the combination of the three shipping lines as ONE provides more opportunities, for example, it will allow the company to extend its coverage in Africa.

C K Yoo, Hyundai Merchant Marine president

Hyundai Merchant Marine stands out this year as in Q3 it ordered 12 23,000-TEU and eight 15,000-TEU eco-friendly mega vessels in preparation for IMO’s sulphur regulations and to secure competitiveness through economies of scale. The newly ordered mega vessels are expected to deliver from 2020 in sequential order. And Mr Yoo has extremely ambitious plans: he has unveiled the South Korean carrier’s target of building up its capacity to 1M TEU and posting annual revenue of US$10Bn by 2022.

Po-Ting Chen, Wan Hai Lines

Wan Hai Lines hit the headlines in November as it placed an order for 20 box ships as part of its fleet improvement plan. Wan Hai Lines has confirmed an order of 20 container vessels with Japan Marine United Corporation (JMU) and Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard Co/China Shipbuilding Trading Company (GWS/CSTC). The contract includes eight 3,036-TEU container vessels with JMU and 12 2,038-TEU container vessels with GWS/CSTC. Wan Hai has the option to declare an additional four 3,036-TEU vessels within six months and four 2,038-TEU vessels within three months. The vessels will be delivered from October 2020 and January 2021 respectively. Wan Hai Lines has a strong intra-Asia core business, where it has grown its main business before expanding into other trades.

Vincent Lin, Yang Ming president

Yang Ming president Vincent Lin is boosting his company’s competitiveness in a number of ways, including entering into charter agreements with Shoei Kisen Kaisha for five 11,000-TEU container ships and with Costamare for another five 12,000-TEU container ships. A statement said “The chartered newbuilds will emit less carbon, use fuel oil containing limited sulphur, and will be equipped with a more efficient ballast water treatment system. Under the growing public awareness of environmental issues, the new ships will also enable Yang Ming to be more competitive in the container shipping industry.” It has been a rocky road for the carrier. The Taiwan-headquartered carrier lost a massive US$492M in 2016 – double the loss it made in 2015. But the carrier turned things around last year after launching a recapitalisation plan and returned to profitability for 2017.

Peter Keller, TOTE chief executive

TOTE executive vice president Peter Keller is spearheading the use of LNG not only within container shipping sector, but within the shipping sector as a whole, in his position as chairman of multi-sector industry coalition SEA\LNG, created to accelerate LNG’s adoption as a marine fuel. TOTE, under Mr Keller’s leadership, was the first container ship operator to use LNG. Its two 233-m Marlin-class vessels are the world’s first container ships to operate on LNG. Tote has also launched an LNG bunker barge. It is the first barge to use GTT's atmospheric-pressure containment system and indeed the first LNG bunkering barge in the US.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World group chairman and chief executive

DP World has always stayed at the forefront when it comes to container ports – and stands out as it thinks outside the box as a terminal operator, with plans to be a “trade enabler”.

This year it acquired Unifeeder, the largest container feeder and growing shortsea network operator in Europe. Unifeeder, founded in 1977, is an integrated logistics company with connectivity to approximately 100 ports.

DP World group chairman and chief executive Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said “We are delighted to add the Unifeeder brand under the DP World umbrella, which supports our strategy to grow in complementary sectors, strengthen our product offering and play a wider role in the global supply chain as a trade enabler.”

Enrique Razon, ICTSI chairman

Under the guidance of Enrique Razon, ICTSI has moved from being a niche operator to a global mainstream one that also develops emerging markets. ICTSI has reported unaudited consolidated financial results for the first nine months of 2018, posting revenue from port operations of US$1Bn, an impressive increase of 10% on the same period last year. Highlights this year include that its joint venture container terminal project with PSA International in Buenaventura, Colombia, is ramping up container volumes, while volumes have grown on the back of the contribution of its new terminals in Lae and Motukea in Papua New Guinea and Melbourne, Australia. 

Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach executive director

Port of Long Beach executive director Mario Cordero is constantly pushing the envelope – he wants the port to be the leader in reduced truck turn time and extended gate hour and is taking sustainable development at the port to the next level. He said the goal was to have zero-emission trucks by 2035 and zero-emission cargo handling equipment by 2030. Under his lead, Long Beach has partnered with GE Transportation to launch a port information portal that will allow all those involved in the supply chain to have better planning capabilities to service ultra large container ships at the port more effectively.

Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, DNV GL maritime chief executive

The employment of digital processes has been wholeheartedly embraced by many classification societies, none more so than DNV GL, which has developed and enthusiastically pushed the use of electronic certificates.

Underpinning its services to the wider container shipping industry is DNV GL’s Veracity data platform, which it developed with Microsoft Azure. This uses emerging big data and predictive analysis technology, allowing carriers to integrate their data, assure its quality, secure it and offer controlled access to suppliers to run analytics.

Philippe Donche-Gay, Bureau Veritas president of marine & offshore

Bureau Veritas has been involved in a number of important initiatives this year, including heading some important LNG ‘firsts’ in the container ship industry. One of the most headline-grabbing is classing CMA CGM’s LNG-fuelled 22,000-TEU box ships. It also classed the world’s first conversion of a container ship to dual-fuel LNG – Wessels Reederei’s Wes Amelie.

Nick Brown, Lloyd’s Register marine & offshore director

Along with other class societies, Lloyd’s Register (LR) has been involved in a range of initiatives from alternative fuels to digitalisation, but its marine and offshore director Nick Brown should be especially commended for his role in cyber security – something that has shot to prominence this year after Maersk’s cyber attack.

LR launched its Cyber Secure programme in March this year, following last year’s launch of guidelines and a notation focusing on this topic.

The Cyber Secure programme is a set of services designed to help ship operators understand how cyber secure they are now and what level of security they want to achieve in future. Added to the mix is support for clients to address the changing cyber security regulatory environment.

John Fay, INTTRA chief executive

Around one in every four container shipments booked globally is done over INTTRA’s system, which catapults the company to a leading place in the digital evolution of the container ship industry. And its role is set to strengthen even further – INTTRA is being acquired by cloud-based provider of networked supply chain solutions E2open.  INTTRA said in a statement that the combination of INTTRA’s ocean carrier and shipper network with E2open’s business network will create a unified global logistics and supply chain network. INTTRA chief executive officer John Fay said “…we envision a single platform with accelerated innovation to connect, streamline, and operate all aspects of global manufacturing, logistics, and distribution, resulting in immediate benefits for all stakeholders.”

Benoit de la Tour, president of Navis

There is an ever-larger focus on the automation of container handling operations, especially as ships get bigger. US-based terminal software developer Navis is a market leader of terminal software – an estimated 75% of the world’s ports employ a Navis system of some sort. This year has seen it strengthen its position – in November it announced a new partnership with COSCO Shipping Ports Limited, creating a joint Centre of Excellence. Launched in September 2018, the centre will deliver dedicated Navis and CSP resources for N4 implementation projects across COSCO Shipping Ports’ portfolio of assets and support ongoing optimisation excellence.

*In no particular order








































































Recent whitepapers

Related articles





Knowledge bank

View all