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 Jaye Container Terminal heralds the first 10000 TEU Container vessel

SLPA upper echelon comprising Dr.Priyath B. Wickrama – Chairman of SLPA(third - right front row), Capt.Nihal Keppetipola – Managing Director of SLPA(second – right front row), Mr.Norman Weerarathne – Additional Managing Director of SLPA, Mr.Jayantha Perera – Chief Operations Manager (Container Operations), Mr.P.Ranathunga – Chief Operations Manager (Conventional Cargo Operations),  APL top brass including Chairman- Mr. Arthur Senanayake(middle – front row) and  Managing Director-Mr. Micky Sim, at the plaque exchange with the  Master of the Vessel Capt. Ong Ming Foo (forth – left front row) on board ‘APL Chongqing.

Making a yet another significant landmark in the container handling saga of Sri Lanka, the State-owned Jaye Container Terminal (JCT) received on Monday, December 19, 2011 a 10,000 TEU class Container Carrier, “APL Chongqing”, operated by APL, the container shipping arm of the Singapore-based global transportation and logistics group, Neptune Orient Lines (NOL). 

Christened in early December this year, APL Chongqing and APL Gwangyang, were the first two new-builds to be received by APL from ship builder, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Korea, among an order of thirty-two (32) similar or larger vessels ordered. These two vessels have been deployed on the Far East-Europe South China Express loop (SCX). APL is the world’s fifth largest container shipping line generating a revenue of USD 8.3 billion in 2010. APL operates well over eighty (80) weekly services reaching over 25,000 locations in 140 countries. 

When Sri Lanka opened its door to welcome foreign investment in 1992, Trident Shipping Agencies Pvt Ltd (forerunner of APL Lanka) was the first foreign-local joint venture shipping agency company to receive Board of Investment (BOI) approval. In fact, it has been registered in the annals of container shipping history in Sri Lanka that Colombo began container operations with APL, as far back as 1973 on a very small scale. The first vessel President Tyler was berthed at QEQ in December 1973 and brought nine laden import containers that were discharged using ship’s gear.  

Since, APL has been a loyal and prominent customer of SLPA.  

APL arrived at a decision in early 2009 to exclusively patronize SLPA terminals. Their decision, according to them, was based on the productivity and efficiency gains achieved at JCT, combined with the customer oriented outlook of the SLPA management. Marking the successful culmination of the long standing and unfailing confidence in SLPA, last year APL christened one of its brand new Container Vessels as “APL Sri Lanka” and deployed it into their China India Express (CIX) service which touches JCT on its west-bound voyage.  

In April this year, demonstrating its commitment to the Sri Lankan maritime community and in a bid to tap into the country’s pool of capable and well-qualified graduates, APL entered into an agreement with SLPA’s Mahapola Training Institute (MPTI) to train 20 new seafarers from the Institute annually on board its vessels. Significantly, the first marine cadet officer from MPTI will join the brand new 10,000 TEU  “APL Chongqing” on her maiden call from Colombo. 

APL is in a process of upsizing and upgrading its fleet and the new mega ships with economies of scale will replace APL’s older and smaller vessels. The new vessels consume less fuel and emit less exhaust, coupled with its larger cargo capacity, they bring a lower emissions-per-container, reducing the environmental impact to global trade.

In celebration of the significance of this historic landmark event to JCT, SLPA and to Sri Lanka at large, a plaque exchange ceremony was held on board the vessel “APL Chongqing” on her maiden voyage at JCT/SLPA, on the 20th of December, 2011. Plaques were exchanged between SLPA upper echelon comprising Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama, Managing Director, Capt. Nihal Keppetipola, and the Master of the Vessel Capt. Ong Ming Foo in the presence of APL top brass including Chairman, Mr. Arthur Senanayake, Managing Director, Mr. Micky Sim and other senior SLPA and APL officials and customers.

Commenting at the press briefing held after the ceremony, SLPA Chairman, Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama said “The APL Chongqing’s call at Jaye Container Terminal brings us great significance for it is the largest ever container vessel to visit Colombo. This heralds how the container shipping will be like in the coming future with economies of scale becoming the major concern in ship building. More often than not, the pursuit of economies of scale in liner shipping has been cited as the major reason behind carrier’s motivation to form strategic alliances, engage in mergers and acquisitions and to increase vessel capacity by building larger vessels. When the Panama’s new locks are inaugurated in 2014, channels will allow transit of bigger vessels, removing another impediment against mega ship building.”

“I am glad to say that Colombo will be ready to handle any mega vessel to be built in the future. Last Friday we inaugurated the construction of Colombo South Terminal. This 18m-deep-draft terminal, the first stage of which is to be completed in 2013, will have the capacity to entertain largest triple E class vessels and Sri Lanka will be the only port in South Asia to handle large vessels.” he further said.

Managing Director of SLPA, Capt. Nihal Keppetipola commented at the press conference “Today is a historic day for SLPA. The APL, our oldest container shipping business partner has made the SLPA achieve another accolade. Today we have shown that we can handle a 10,000 TEU class vessel, the largest ever vessel to call at Colombo. APL has always been with us in crests and in troughs of our business and I am sure they will continue to be with us in the future.”

“Equally important is that APL has come forward in offering seafarer training for MPTI students and this helping hand given to us will certainly make Sri Lanka revive the status of seafarer training prevailed decades ago on vessels owned by the then Ceylon Shipping Corporation.  This is a very great opportunity for Sri Lankan youth to make use of, in order to demonstrate their professionalism to the world as able and skilled seafarers” he further said.

Speaking on behalf of APL, APL’s Managing Director, Mr. Micky Sim said “We are pleased to induct the first maritime cadet from MPTI on “APL Chongqing”, manifesting APL’s commitment to the Sri Lankan maritime community. It enables us to tap into the country’s pool of capable and well-qualified graduates from MPTI. We are happy to share our technical and professional know-how with SLPA by way of training maritime cadets.  This will allow us to have top-quality Sri Lankan seafarers serving in our global fleet in years to come.”

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