Hong Kong-based shipping firm Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has signed newbuilding contracts with shipyards Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering (NACKS) and Dalian COSCO KHI Ship Engineering for five new container vessels.

Each vessel has a nominal capacity of 23,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) and costs $155.68m per unit.

The delivery of the vessels is expected to start in 2023.

In a statement, OOCL said: “These five new buildings are part of our ongoing programme to introduce large, modern and fuel-efficient vessels to further strengthen our fleet competitiveness, as well as fleet rebalancing by increasing the proportion of the ships we own in the core fleet, while a number of vessels leased under long-term charters will be returned to the owners.”

OOCL’s current portfolio includes six G-Class mega-vessels, each with a nominal capacity of 21,000TEU. Deployed on the Asia-Europe route, they were ordered in March 2015 to expand its range.

The company added: “The original plan at that time was to have ordered a second batch of five to six mega vessels. However, this addition to the original order has never happened thus far, first because of the terrible market conditions of 2016, and then throughout 2017-2018 with the focus being on the execution of the sale of the OOIL group to COSCO SHIPPING Holdings.”

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Over the next five years, OOCL plans to dispose of 13 vessels from its fleet with a combined capacity of approximately 76,000TEU.

OOCL’s latest contract for container vessels is consistent with its strategic plan for further growth.

The vessels will be equipped with modern technology to increase operational efficiency and offset carbon emissions.