October 14 - Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA (WWASA) and Wallenius Lines have agreed with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) to build two new pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs). WWASA will take delivery of the first vessel, which will commence service in 2012.

"We continuously evaluate the group's tonnage situation, seeking an optimal fleet," says Jan Eyvin Wang, president and CEO of WWASA. "These vessels are purposely built for the mix of cargo transported by our operating companies, and have an efficient design supporting optimum cargo handling and efficient energy consumption.

"As a market leader within the rolling cargo segment, it is important for us to position ourselves for future growth," says Wang. "Volumes continue to pick up, albeit from a low level. The newbuildings will secure a high level of service to our customers going forward."

WWASA and Wallenius have ordered one vessel each, which have a capacity to transport 6,500 car equivalent units.

"Being a shareholder in three different operating companies, gives us a flexibility to utilise and swap tonnage based on needs, securing an at all times optimal fleet structure and utilisation," says Wang. 

The two newbuildings will be sister vessels of ten PCTCs delivered from MHI in the period 2004-2009.

"We have a long and successful cooperation with MHI, having built more than 20 vessels over the last 40 years. Together we excel in vessel design, innovation and throughout the building process. In addition to the newly ordered PCTCs, WWASA will receive two ro-ro vessels from MHI, one in 2011 and one in 2012."

As of 30 September, WWASA and partners control a fleet of 125 car carriers and ro-ro vessels. To optimise the fleet in the next couple of years, the group can redeliver 18 charter vessels to external owners during 2010-2015. The order book for the group of companies currently comprises 20 vessels to be delivered through 2012.