Fifty years of logistics

Established by the UK company British Sea Containers and the Finnish entrepreneur Veli Nordström, Containerships has grown into a globally recognised container shipping and multi-modal transport business. The company was founded in 1966, with its first container vessel sailing from Finland to the UK in 1967. Following several years of successful service, Containerships celebrated its 50th year in operation during 2016 and is proud to look back on a long and highly impressive history of professional experience.

Throughout its history Containerships has continued to grow. Indeed, between 1985 and 1990 the company developed into a leading short-sea carrier, emphasising the use of pallet-wide containers. By 1994 the company had become established in Russia with offices in St. Petersburg and Moscow, while the business continued to expand over the subsequent years by acquiring the Lithuania-based company Kursiu Linja in 2007 and subsequently adding Lithuania, Latvia and Poland to its service network. During the following year Containerships has further expanded its service network by adding the Belgian port of Ghent to its growing list of destinations, giving it access to both the Belgian and French markets. At the same time the company also established its own office in Minsk to allow it to develop into the Belarus market via the port of Klaipeda.

After enhancing its presence throughout the lower Baltic Sea, Containerships further extended its network through the acquisition of the Turkish company Contaz Lines during 2009. This allowed the company to replicate the success of its North European transport network within the growing Mediterranean economies and by 2010 it had fully extended its Mediterranean service coverage to Mersin in Turkey. By June 2010 Containerships had also further expanded its core network within Europe by adding additional presence within the Duisburg, Ruhr area in Germany.

In 2012 a second port call in Finland at Pori was added to the company’s expansive sea network, while full customs clearance in Russian ports was also added to the Containerships service portfolio. By 2013 the company had established a new office in Kiev, providing clients with a rapid transportation solution to and from Ukraine by rail connection via the port of Klaipeda and Riga. In early 2014 Containerships focused on the further improvement of its services in Russian and Finnish markets by adding the German port of Lübeck to its network, connecting St. Petersburg in Russia to the Finnish port at Helsinki. During this period the company also established a new office in Lübeck to complement the growth of its network. Most recently, during September 2016, Containerships added First Container Terminal (FCT) located in St Petersburg to its weekly intra-Baltics container service, with the company’s first sailing to the terminal travelling from Lübeck to FCT on the 16th September 2016 and a second sailing from Aarhus in Denmark departing on 20th of the same month. Further to its strategic and advantageous location, FCT terminal offers clients several possibilities for railway connections as well as cross docking operations, making the location an important addition to the Containerships service network.

As of 2017 Containerships continues to represent a modern transportation company, offering a full suite of logistics solutions as a one-stop shop for warehousing, distribution, labelling and re-packing and custom clearance. The Containerships business is fully market specialised with a strong local presence across several regions including Russia and North Africa and is fully ISO 900:2008 quality certified. To ensure high levels of traceability and reliability across its transport solutions, the company also offers a number of electronic data interchange (EDI) connection options that allows communication to several carriers through a single point for effective co-operation and tracking. Furthermore, Containerships maintains a diverse fleet of versatile equipment comprised of its own vessels, trucks and containers that allow the business to offer cost-effective solutions and rapid service in multimodal transport. The company has a fleet of 11 large container vessels, which sail to ports throughout Europe, Russia and Northern Africa, while Containerships has ordered four new ships since 2015. The vessels are state-of-the-art dual-fuel engine container ships, making the first short-sea container operator in Europe to run ships on LNG. The company has been working towards operating according to the long-term solution of LNG powered technology since long before the implementation of the IMO sulphur emission regulations in 2015 and expects several new vessels to joint its fleet beginning in 2018.

The LNG-fuelled vessels are the most environmentally friendly solution on the market, offering the largest capacity of 45-foot units in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The drive behind the improvements to the fleet have been spurred on by the changes in the sulphur emission areas in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and the English Channel, with the vessels requiring permanent qualification according to these regulations. The first of the company’s LNG-powered vessels will be delivered during 2018. These new vessels will also be significantly larger than its current fleet, growing from an average size of 1000 TEU to 1400 TEU, providing the company with the option of increasing its capacity.

In addition to modernising its fleet in line with increasing legislation relating to environmentally sustainable shipping, Containerships has also been on hand to advise and assist clients regarding new mandatory rulings affecting all containerised transport in recent months. During November 2014 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted mandatory amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI, Part A, Regulation 2 Cargo information regarding a mandatory container gross weight verification. The SOLAS convention represents a global binding regulation, meaning that all states that are party to the convention have committed to the implementation of amendments, including these in relation to Verified Gross Mass (VGM), in their respective jurisdictions pursuant to existing authority. This means that national rules and regulations may exist and that stakeholders are required to engage with the relevant competent authorities to obtain clarification on such national procedures in each country.

SOLAS amendments came into force for packed containers received for transportation during July 2016 and place a requirement on the shipper of a packed container, regardless of which operator physically packed the container, to verify and provide the container’s gross verified weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representatives prior to it being loaded onto a ship. A verified container weight known also as VGM, is a condition for loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export. It is important to acknowledge that containers without this verification cannot be loaded. The vessel operator and the terminal operator are required to use VGMs in vessel stowage plans and are prohibited from loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export if the container does not have a verified container weight. Containerships Group has the knowledge and experience to assist its clients with all queries regarding this new mandatory ruling affecting all containerised transport worldwide.

The company’s comprehensive base of logistical solutions have enable Containerships to work with some of industry’s most recognised companies and brands. For example, the company provides transport solutions for the US-based Mars Inc, relating to one of the company’s key locations at its factory in Veghel, within the Netherlands. As one of the largest chocolate factories in the world, the unit in Veghel produces a large share of the sweets produced by the company for the European markets. Factories are also located in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Spain, Russia and the Czech Republic. More than 15,000 international shipments leave the Veghel factory every year, with the site being ideally located close to Europe’s largest port in Rotterdam just a hundred kilometres away. Containerships is one of the logistics partners providing container shipments from Rotterdam to the Baltic ports, Finland and Russia, and offering a number of other transport connections within Europe, while also taking advantage of an excellent ground transport network with key connections to central Europe.

By promoting its leading role in Europe as the first short-sea container operator in the region to use LNG as the main fuel source across its entire end-to-end logistics service including sea and land, Containerships is in the enviable position of entering into 2017 as a leading transport solutions provider. Its long-established knowledge base, strong customer portfolio and on-going investment into a modern fleet of equipment will place Containerships in an extremely favourable direction to continue to grow and move forward in the transport market more many years.

Dedicated to full LNG operation
Globally growing presence
Increased capacity on vessels