German container leasing company Lotus Containers launches new China-US shipping line
Shanghai Pearl (Photo: Carrier53)

Even with demand continuing strong on the leading container routes, it is rare to hear of the launch of a new shipping company. Recently, however, several new shipping lines have emerged from companies including German retailer LIDL and British freight forwarder Allseas Global Logistics. Joining the ranks with a new shipping company is German container leasing company Lotus Containers, reported by THE MARITIME EXECUTIVE.

Established in 2008, Lotus reports it has built core competencies in container sales, leasing, and purchases, as well as arranging transportation and special projects. The company is expanding on that experience by launching a unique new shipping company called Carrier53’.

They are describing the new operations as a fully independent vessel operating common carrier with “a proven track record, experience, and connections throughout the globe.” Proclaiming on their website, “Helping to break the supply chain crunch by dedicated service,” the new line is launching service this month focusing primarily on Pacific routes between China and the U.S. West Coast. Service is kicking off with an initial fleet of six general purpose cargo ships each of which they report will be able to transport up to 700 TEU using the larger 53-foot boxes.

“With our modern fleet of owned and chartered multipurpose vessels and our network of dedicated agents worldwide, we deliver flexible solutions outside the usual liner lanes,” the company says in its launch materials. The fleet consists of older vessels built between 2005 and 2011, each ranging between approximately 32,000 and 38,000 dwt.

The service is starting with sailings between Humen and Taicang in China sailing to Portland, Oregon. The company’s route map also shows routes between Qingdao, China and U.S. terminus either in Portland or Los Angeles from the three Chinese ports. A special voyage from Hamburg to Mexico in September and October is also shown on the website.

Services to be offered the website says, include “Pre-haulage, post-haulage, door-to-door service, US-inland drayage, and much more – CARRIER53′ offers tailormade one-stop solutions.” They advertise that they will provide quick transit times and at competitive rates, including a “Go Live” offer to transport 53-foot boxes at the price of 40-foot units.

FedEx launched a similar service earlier this year chartering Genco bulkers to transport boxes from China to Port Hueneme, California. At the time, they explained that the boxes were being manufactured in China for use on the company’s intermodal freight service and they decided to offer customers the opportunity to ship goods as the boxes were being delivered to the U.S.

While LIDL plans to devote the capacity of its new shipping line to its own goods, intermodal companies have also been attracted to container shipping as an expansion of their services. U.S.-based J.B. Hunt chartered two containerships to start a similar shipping operation to Carrier53″ also sailing between China, California and the Pacific Northwest. Allseas looks to provide a niche shipping line for customers between Asia and Europe. They have six chartered smaller containerships to provide services between China and Bangladesh to the UK and Europe. Allseas promoted its launch as Britain’s first new shipping line in 40 years.