Container shipping company Ocean Network Express (ONE) has signed a letter of intent (LoI) with Japan’s Imabari Shipbuilding unit and ship leasing business Shoei Kisen Kaisha.

The LoI is for a long-term charter of six new Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS). The charter cover agreement covers a period of 15 years.

With a capacity of more than 24,000TEU each, the vessels will become the world’s largest container ships.

The ships will be constructed by the consortium of Imabari Shipbuilding and Japan Marine United Corporation.

The new class of vessels, which are expected to be delivered in 2023-2024, will join the core fleet of ONE.

The introduction of ‘large, modern, and fuel-efficient’ ships is part of ONE’s strategy to boost its fleet competitiveness.

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Featuring a modern hull design, the new ships will help in the reduction of carbon emissions. It will also have increased cargo intake and decreased fuel burn.

Furthermore, the ships will be able to meet the emissions regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as they will be equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems.

In a statement, ONE said: “It reaffirms our commitment to operational excellence, business sustainability and environmental protection.”

Earlier this month, almost 2,000 containers aboard the ONE Apus were either lost or damaged after the vessel was hit by stormy weather in the Pacific Ocean.

The 14,000TEU containership, ONE Apus, was scheduled to reach Kobe port on 7 or 8 December.