Italian shipping group Grimaldi has begun the introduction of a fleet of six new-generation, larger capacity, con-ro ships, which it will deploy on West African routes.
The vessels, together with onboard equipment such as forklift vehicles and tug masters, represents an investment of close to USD500 million, a spokesman for the Naples-based operator said. Each vessel will have a capacity of 1,100 TEU and 3,000 linear metres of rolling cargo compared to the 750 teu and 2,200 linear metres offered by the existing fleet.
“The six new vessels will replace the chartered-in tonnage which has complemented our own fleet over the last 2-3 years, as well as other older owned tonnage,” he said.
The first unit, the Grande Lagos started operating in October while her sistership, the Grande Tema will enter service in December. The remaining four units will be delivered in the course of 2015, at three-month intervals. Each of the new ships is set for deployment on Grimaldi’s Central Express Service linking Hamburg, Amsterdam, Tilbury and Antwerp to Lomé, Cotonou, Lagos and Tema.
They will also provide scope for Grimaldi to transfer some of the existing tonnage on this service to its Southern Express, Mediterranean-West Africa and North America-West Africa services, thus enabling an increase in frequencies.
Deploying new and bigger vessels on West African routes reflected the fast-growing economies of several African countries and an increasing need of ocean shipping services for both the import and export of goods, the spokesman underlined.
He said, “The region is importing rolling cargo – cars, vans, trucks, both new and second hand – as well as industrial products in containers and project cargo. Northbound cargo (-ex-West Africa) is largely made up of containerised food commodities such as cocoa beans and coffee, and also timber.”
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