COSCO & Evergreen Upgrade Joint Far East-Mediterranean Service

A COSCO container ship in port
Updated Published

Evergreen Marine Corporation and COSCO Shipping Lines have announced plans to upgrade their jointly operated Far East-Mediterranean service by replacing 13,000 TEU vessels with larger 20,000 TEU ships.

These larger vessels will be transferred from the companies’ Far East-North Europe services, which will then incorporate the 13,000 TEU ships currently in use. According to Alphaliner's latest report, this tonnage swap is in response to the OCEAN Alliance's decision to reroute all of its Far East – Europe services via the Cape of Good Hope, steering clear of potential Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

Previously, one of these services, known as CES by Evergreen and NEU7 by other alliance members, included Piraeus as its first European westbound port of discharge en route to Antwerp, Hamburg, and Rotterdam. However, in light of the Red Sea crisis, this loop has omitted Piraeus and now operates on a 14-week cycle, with stops in Tianjin, Ningbo, Shanghai, Yantian, Singapore, Colombo, Antwerp, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Tanjung Pelepas, and back to Tianjin.

The OCEAN Alliance had to suspend its third Far East – North Europe loop, jointly operated by COSCO (AEU7) and OOCL (LL3), which also called at Piraeus, due to insufficient vessel availability. This required a reconfiguration of services to accommodate Asian exports to Greece.

In response, the OCEAN Alliance upgraded the Far East-Mediterranean service, known as AEM1 by COSCO and MD2 by Evergreen, to utilize 20,000 TEU ships. This service has been extended to a 14-week rotation, adding three extra weeks, with Piraeus reinstated as the first European port of call.

Following Piraeus, the route includes stops at various Mediterranean ports in Italy, France, and Spain, completing the circuit from Qingdao to Shanghai, Ningbo, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Yantian, Singapore, Piraeus, La Spezia, Genoa, Fos, Valencia, and back to Singapore and Qingdao.

Alphaliner noted concerns that the CES/NEU7 loop might struggle to maintain weekly sailings without the 20,000 TEU ships. Despite this, the 14,424 TEU vessel Theseus joined the service at the end of February, with the 13,808 TEU Thalassa Mana set to follow on May 17 and the Thalassa Doxa on June 19. However, these additions still leave numerous gaps in the service's forward schedule.