2M Alliance to begin direct Gulf – Asia service

Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Line operating as the 2M Alliance are set to take advantage of the soon to be expanded Panama Canal by running an Asia – Gulf Coast container service. This will be the first direct all water connection between the US Gulf and Asia.

The two ships on the route being run by the 2M Alliance will be the Lone Star Express run by MSC and the TP18 run by Maersk. The first sailing is set to leave Asia on May 2 and Houston will be the first inbound US post of call. The service will follow the route of Qingdao, Ningbo, Shanghai, Xiamen, Yantian, Busan, Cristobal, Houston, Mobile and Miami. The estimated inbound time to Houston will be around 26 days from Yantian and 23 from Busan. The ships will have a capacity of about 4500 TEUs, which is very small by comparison to the 19,000 TEU capacity of the largest ships not using the canal.

“The Port of Houston Authority is pleased that the service focuses heavily on the Port of Houston,” Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria said. “The Houston region is a growth market due to increased demand for import consumer goods and the boom in plastic resin exports in the next few years.”

“This new service will enhance the existing weekly Asian services operated by CMA CGM, COSCO and Hanjin calling at the Port Authority,” said Executive Director Roger Guenther. “We are very pleased that Maersk and MSC are expanding their operations here as well.”

“We will continue to expand our Bayport Container terminal and upgrade our Barbours Cut container terminal to meet the growing demands of our customers,” Guenther added. “These additional Trans-Pacific all-water services demonstrate our ability to provide a cost-effective supply chain option connecting Asia to local and key Midwest markets via the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Port of Houston Authority is the largest container port in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, handling about two-thirds of all the containers that move through the gulf. In 2015, the Port Authority handled more than two million TEUs for the first time in its history. The Port Authority also set a record for tonnage in 2015, handling 30.5 million tons of cargo at its facilities.