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Hyundai's Return Adds to Pier T Resurgence

April 26, 2017

 

This month, a familiar name has returned to the Port of Long Beach.

South Korean carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. is bringing a string of vessels to Total Terminals International at Pier T.

The Pacific South 1 service, which launched on April 1, consists of four 6,300-TEU and two 5,500-TEU vessels traveling between Long Beach, the Chinese ports of Qingdao, Ningbo and Shanghai, and the South Korean ports of Kwangyang, Incheon and Busan.

“We are thrilled to see Hyundai Merchant Marine vessels back in the Port of Long Beach,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Managing Director of Commercial Operations and Chief Commercial Officer at the Port of Long Beach. “With HMM as a partner, TTI, the Port’s largest container terminal, is poised for greater success today and in the years ahead.”

Hyundai first brought cargo into Long Beach about 30 years ago, eventually becoming a tenant after leasing California United Terminals at Pier E, the northern part of what is now the Middle Harbor development. 

The company operated from Long Beach until 2010, when it decided to sublease 95 acres of land at the Port of Los Angeles.

Fast-forward to the unraveling of South Korean container carrier Hanjin Shipping last year. When Hanjin collapsed, a portion of its Pier T lease in Long Beach was sold to Terminal Investment Limited, Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s terminal operations company.

In turn, MSC/TIL sold 20 percent of its stake to Hyundai, which has a strategic cooperation agreement with the 2M Alliance joining the world’s two largest ocean carriers, Maersk Line and MSC.

That agreement was blessed in late March by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, just before the April 1 launch of the three new shipping alliances.

This strategic cooperation benefits all parties, Maersk Line’s Asia-Pacific chief exclusive director, Robbert van Trooijen, said in a Maritime Herald article in March.

“Maersk Line’s customers will have greater options on trans-Pacific trades and HMM’s customers will be able to leverage Maersk Line’s strong Asia-Europe products,” he said.

Following debt restructuring, Hyundai is eager to grow its trans-Pacific trade competitiveness in an effort to secure more stable profits.

“The deal will enhance competitiveness of the three shippers,” Hyundai Merchant Marine CEO Chang-Keun Yoo told the Maritime Herald. “Thanks to 2M Alliance’s network and containers, HMM will be able to offer more diversified services and stabilize profits.”

This bodes well for the Port of Long Beach, where officials see a resurgence of Pier T and the possibility of more capital improvements to enhance productivity.

A prime Terminal Island location consisting of 385 acres, Pier T is the port’s largest container terminal, featuring the largest on-dock rail yard, more than a mile of berth for ships to dock and 14 container cranes, six of which are in the process of being raised by TTI to accommodate even larger ships. (Three additional cranes have already been raised.)

“The strategic partnership between 2M and Hyundai is a win-win not only for the ocean carriers, but for TTI and for the Port of Long Beach as well,” Hacegaba said. “We expect additional services to call at Pier T, which will be able to accommodate up to 20,000-TEU vessels by 2020.  TTI is on a solid path to commercial success, thanks to the strategic partnership between 2M and HMM.”

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