According to a report from industry news outlet Lloyd's List, MSC chief executive Diego Aponte has confirmed that the company is ordering 11 ultra-large container vessels, American Shipper reported.
The news comes after rival CMA CGM revealed that it was ordering up to nine containerships of 22,000 TEU - six firm orders with an option for three more - slated for delivery from the end of 2019.
The Switzerland-based shipping line signed its order in France on September 20, according to Lloyd's List, without a final price decided upon. The cost would be around US$136 million per vessel if a conventional fuel system with scrubbers is chosen, or about $154 million should a dual-fuel alternative - which would allow for the use of LNG - be selected instead.
An unidentified spokesperson for MSC told Splash 24/7 that the newly ordered vessels are being viewed as replacements for older charter vessels that are expected to be retired in the coming years.
"The new order is expected to effectively replace this fleet, rather than substantially increasing MSC's overall capacity," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has been lined up to build at least five of the ULCS vessels, according to the reports.
Rumours on MSC's order surfaced in August, but the company downplayed them at the time and did not offer comment. Mr Aponte, however, confirmed this week that the need to replace older vessels was the reason for the order.