January 11 - Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) has completed the reflagging under US registry of Maersk Illinois, its newest multipurpose heavy lift ship.

The ship is one of two sister vessels that MLL acquired in September 2011 and which will sail for Maersk-RickmersUS flag project carrier (Maersk-Rickmers), providing breakbulk and project cargo service for shippers requiring US flag service. Maersk-Rickmers was jointly formed for this purpose by MLL and Rickmers-Linie (America).

"We are pleased to see this reflagging process completed, allowing us to introduce our modern ship and bring new value to the US flag project cargo market," said Dave Harriss, director of Ship Management and Chartering at MLL. "We are now looking forward to bringing the second ship, Maersk Texas, under the US flag fleet as we continue to build the service."

Maersk Illinois completed its maiden voyage in Mobile, USA, where its reflagging was performed. The 19,600 dwt ship is 148 m long and can carry 20,000 cu m of cargo. With two onboard cargo cranes with a combined maximum lift of 480 tonnes, Maersk Illinois is ideally suited for handling of a wide variety of heavy and bulky cargo such as generators, locomotives, wind and gas turbines, hazardous materials and more. The vessel will make port calls on inducement around the globe.

Steve Garifalos, general manager of Sales and Customer Service at Rickmers-Linie (America)said: "Expansion of the US flag multipurpose fleet benefits project businesses and those shippers needing heavy-lift service."

Maersk Illinois loaded its first US flag impelled cargo immediately after the reflagging was completed on December 30 and set sail for Ghana with its new crew of US mariners from American Maritime Officers and Seafarers International Union.

Maersk-Rickmers brings together MLL's expertise in the operation and management of US flag vessels and Rickmers-Linie's 175 years of experience handling project cargoes worldwide. The complementary capabilities create a reliable service that realises the efficiencies US flag customers need to compete on a global basis, claims Maersk-Rickmers.