After a year of turmoil, last Friday we finally saw the official bankruptcy of top Korean and former world number seven container shipping line Hanjin Shipping.
Hanjin rocked the maritime world back in August when it declared it was bankrupt; ships, crew, and cargo were left stranded in oceans and seas across the world, and retailers expecting their timely deliveries for the holiday shopping season were left in the lurch. We saw how one company’s demise could hurt its customers, employees, and shareholders, but also disrupt supply chains and cause chaos for end consumers.
Between the time Hanjin effectively ceased operations last summer and its official bankruptcy status last week, the line has been selling off its assets, including ships and terminals. One of the buyers eager to snatch up its vessels is Korean conglomerate Samra Midas Group who, after its board rejected a proposal to have bulk carrier Korea Line Corp. take over Hanjin services, created the newest line in the container shipping industry: SM Line.
Not much is known of SM Line yet, though it has an ambitious plan of becoming a top 20 liner soon. It has been active in buying ships with the goal of owning a 110,000-TEU fleet, which would bump IRISL down the list to 21st largest line in terms of container capacity.
Despite obstacles such as a lack of available containers, SM Line is pressing on with their lofty goals. In fact, Splash 24/7 reported that SM Line’s first service will launch on 8 March: a 1,000-TEU ship leaving from Busan and calling in China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The line’s first transpacific sailing is set to take place on 21 April, though SM Line’s biggest reported purchase so far has been a ship of less than 4,500 TEUs.