South Korea’s national flagship carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) is set to order 20 new eco-friendly and highly efficient mega containerships.

The plan, which follows the Government of South Korea’s recent announcement to rebuild the country’s shipping sector over a period of five years, covers 12 20,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) and eight of 14,000 TEU ships.

HMM intends to deploy the new vessels in the Asia-North Europe and US East coast trades, respectively.

The company will select the shipyard to develop the ships by issuing its Request for Proposal (RFP) to the shipbuilding companies.

Depending upon the success of selecting the shipyard, signing a letter of intent (LOI) and finalising the contract, the new vessels are expected to be delivered by 2020, when International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new environmental regulations are set to take off.

“We can strengthen cost competitiveness and react rapidly to the international environmental regulations.”

The upcoming IMO regulation seeks to reduce the sulphur content in bunker fuel oil from 3.5% to 0.5% on 1 January 2020.

In order to meet the limit, HMM expects to install scrubber or liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering for all the newbuilding vessels.

A HMM official said: “Through the acquisition of the most technologically advanced mega containerships, we can strengthen cost competitiveness and react rapidly to the international environmental regulations.”

HMM also aims to expand its current fleet and set a new mid-long-term plan to improve its global competitiveness to promote business normalisation and shareholder value, among others.

The company will also improve its organisational capability, develop information technology that can be adopted in shipping, and expand its global networks.