Friday, December 9, 2022

Queen Esther for COSTCO

 Big box "warehouse" retailer COSTCO brought in another of its in house container ships today, December 9. The Queen Esther is the fourth ship to call in Halifax since COSTCO set up the service to meet its own transportation needs*. All the ships are chartered from NOOs (non-operating vessel owners). The Asia / North America trades are slumping and cargo rates and charter rates are  in steep decline, with some shipping lines dropping some services altogether. While this means that COSTCO might be able to ship more cheaply now using regular container lines, they now have better control over reliability and  delivery dates.

The Queen Esther docked at PSA Fairview Cove to work cargo. COSTCO also hired its own fleet of containers from Triton, which gives the ships a uniform appearance. I do note one white box on deck and one on top of a stack. The white colour normally signifies a temperature controlled container. At this stage of the ship's route they would likely be empty, as in fact would be most of the containers.

Built in 2016 by Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard Co Ltd in Guangzhou, China, the Queen Esther is a 25,145 gt, 25,000 dwt ship with a capacity of 2194 TEU including 490 reefer plugs. It is also fitted with three 45 tonne SWL cranes. The ship is named for the biblical figure who became Queen of Persia by marriage and saved the Jewish populace there from certain slaughter.

The ship is managed by Lomar Shipping Ltd, part of the multi-national Libra Group from Greece, with interests in energy, aviation, hospitality and transportation. Lomar also trades in ships and its fleet can vary in size at any given time, but seems to be between 65 and 80 ships of all types at present. Ownership of the Queen Esther is vested in Queen Esther Shipping Ltd, a joint venture between Lomar and CIT Group Inc a division of First Citizens Bank.

The ship sailed from China November 2, transited the Panama Canal November 27-28, and called on Jacksonville December 2-3 and Baltimore December 5. These dates would indicate the possibility of  some of the cargo reaching COSTCO shelves before Christmas. 

*The previous COSTCO charters have been: Carpathia August 23, AS Carlotta October 15, Protstar N November 27.


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