On May 9, loaded with 1,232 TEU from South Korean exporters, HMM Dubai departed Busan for New York, scheduled to arrive on June 10.
This was one of 25 extra loader services from HMM since August 2020: 14 to Los Angeles, five to the US east coast, three to Russia, two to Europe and one to Vietnam.
Increasing freight rates have elevated demand for vessels, making it hard for operators to charter-in additional tonnage. Liner operators have therefore looked at container-carrying multipurpose vessels (MPVs) as alternatives.
HMM has switched seven other MPVs to extra loader services, including MPV Urania, MPV Thalia, HMM Ulsan and Yu Chang, which have carried containers to Savannah, Vostochny, Russia and Hai Phong, Vietnam.
At its government's urging, HMM has completed several such ad hoc voyages to provide more shipping capacity to small and mid-sized South Korean exporters.
An HMM spokesperson said: 'Deploying several multipurpose vessels on the container services results from a challenging situation for securing containerships in the charter market and part of our fleet strategy. It's hard to say when we decide to put in extra-loaders, as the market situations vary from moment to moment.'