July 10 - Following the sinking of the P3 alliance by the Chinese authorities last month, Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) have announced a ten-year vessel sharing agreement (VSA) on the Asia-Europe, transatlantic and transpacific trad

The VSA, which will be referred to as 2M, replaces all existing VSAs and slot purchase agreement that Maersk Line has in these trades.

The agreement will include 185 vessels, with an estimated capacity of 2.1 million teu. The overall purpose of the cooperation is to share infrastructure network, says Maersk Line. The companies hope to be able to provide their customers with more stable and frequent services, and cover more ports with direct services.

Maersk Line states that the 2M VSA differs from the proposed P3 alliance in two ways. Firstly, says the company, the combined market share is much smaller; and secondly, the cooperation is a pure VSA - there will be no jointly owned independent entity with executional powers, insists Maersk Line.

Maersk Line will contribute approximately 55 percent of the total capacity of the VSA, with 110 vessels, while MSC will contribute around 75 vessels, making up 45 percent of the overall capacity.

Vessels deployed in the VSA will continue to be owned (or chartered) and operated by the two individual lines.

The VSA is expected to start early in 2015, but the date is dependent on the filing of information to and approvals by relevant authorities, explains Maersk Line.