French shipping operator CMA CGM Group has signed an agreement for ten new 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) container ships from China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).

The 266m-long container ships will support CMA CGM’s growth and modernise its fleet.

Vessels will be delivered from 2021 and will replace ten other vessels. They will be deployed in routes between Asia and the Mediterranean.

CMA CGM Group chairman and CEO Rodolphe Saadé said: “Through this strategic partnership with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, we once again opt for LNG propulsion and we reinforce our efforts to develop ever more efficient and environmentally friendly vessels.

“We thereby reassert our leading role in the energy transition of the shipping industry.”

The ships have been designed to support the group’s growth and will be equipped with the latest technologies for the protection of the environment.

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CMA CGM will power five of the vessels with liquefied natural gas (LNG), allowing for a significant reduction in CO2, sulphur, fine particles and nitrogen oxides emissions.

“We once again opt for LNG propulsion and we reinforce our efforts to develop ever more efficient and environmentally friendly vessels.”

The other five vessels will be fitted with hybrid scrubbers that clean ship emissions.

The agreement is expected to be valued at more than $1bn.

CMA CGM and CSSC also signed a cooperation agreement to develop environmentally friendly vessels to protect the environment.

In January, CMA CGM extended the Ocean Alliance agreement with Cosco Shipping, Evergreen, and Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) until 2027.

In November 2017, CMA CGM announced an order for nine 22,000-TEU container ships powered by LNG.