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Chennai-U.S. direct container shipping service launched

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A MILESTONE: The `Maersk Djibouti', a 294-metre long container ship, called at the Chennai port on Friday, marking the launch of a direct service to the U.S. east coast. Photo: K. Pichumani
A MILESTONE: The `Maersk Djibouti', a 294-metre long container ship, called at the Chennai port on Friday, marking the launch of a direct service to the U.S. east coast. Photo: K. Pichumani

Special Correspondent

Trade stands to save around 10 days: Port Trust chairman

CHENNAI: A direct container shipping service from Chennai to the U.S. east coast was launched on Friday.

It began with the 294-metre-long `Maersk Djibouti,' which has a capacity to carry 5,100 containers, calling at the Chennai port terminal operated by Chennai Container Terminal Limited (CCTL).

The ports of call of the weekly service would be Chennai, Colombo, Salalah in Oman, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Algeciras in Spain, and three ports on the U.S. east coast Savannah, Norfolk and Newark.

Long-felt need

Briefing reporters, Chennai Port Trust (CPT) chairman K. Suresh said with the launch, a long-felt need of the trade for a direct service had become a reality. It would be an alternative to the existing practice of shipping containers from Chennai on feeder vessels to either Colombo or Singapore, and from thereon to the final destination on mainline vessels.

The service, MECL 2, would take 28 days from Chennai to reach the U.S. This would translate into around 10 days savings for the trade. It took anywhere between 35-40 days on the feeder route.

Mr. Suresh announced a 15 per cent concession in marine service charges for the Maersk service. Chennai Port Trust and CCTL would discuss similar concessions for other liners operating mainline vessels.

Europe service

A direct service connecting Chennai with various ports in Europe would be launched in May.

Chief Executive (South Asia) of Maersk India Private Limited, Hans-Ole Madsen, said the launch was an indicator of the growing importance of Chennai.

Describing it as a milestone, Chief Executive Officer of Chennai Container Terminal Limited Ennarasu Karunesan highlighted the performance parameters of the terminal, including crane productivity of 30 moves per hour and less than 18 hours' vessel turnaround time.

"Facilitate expansion"

Senior vice-president and managing director of DPO World Subcontinent (which controls CCTL) Ganesh Raj said the launch was an indicator of the terminal's efficiency. He urged Chennai Port Trust to facilitate expansion of the terminal.

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