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Maersk A-Class

The cargo ship Maersk Alabama was attacked by pirates early on the morning of April 8, 2009 and presumed hijacked. The vessel was en route to Mombasa, Kenya, when it was assaulted about 300 miles off Somalia's coast. The Maersk Alabama is home-ported in Norfolk, Va., and has a crew of about 20 U.S. nationals.

There is some confusion in media coverage as to exactly what ship was hijacked. In the US Navy, as in most navies, once a ship is named it retains that ship throughout its' life, which is typically about three decades. While illustrious names may be reused, normally there is a decent interval between the time the elder ship is decommissioned and the time the new ship is named [the Indian Navy is rather annoying in the rapidity with which it recycles names, waiting only a few years]. Commercial shipping companies, on the other hand, may rename a ship many time over the ships life, and ships are certainly renamed when they are bought and sold, which may happen every few years.

The Alva Maersk was placed in service in 1976, and renamed several times thereafter, most recently Maersk Balboa in the year 2003. It plays no part in this story, apart from the fact that another dis-similar and unrelated vessel was subsequently named Alva Maersk, and was put under the American flag as part of the Maritime Security Program (MSP) under the name Masersk Alabama. It is this rather smaller vessel that was hijacked in early 2009.

Maersk Line, Limited is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and is one of the Department of Defense's primary shipping contractors. It has been a reliable partner for the government in peacetime and war for almost 30 years. The company operates vessels registered in the United States in full compliance with U.S. laws and regulations. It manages a fleet of nearly 50 ships in commercial and government service, including vessels requiring Top Secret security clearances. Maersk Line, Limited, a subsidiary of Denmark's A.P. Moller/Maersk A.S., is independently controlled by a board of directors comprised entirely of U.S. citizens.

A.P. Moller Singapore was established 08 March 1978 as "The Maersk Company Singapore" and started out with two container feeder vessels "Maersk Mango" and "Maersk Tempo". In 1988-1989 nine vessels were purchased - three container vessels (Alva Maersk / Arild Maersk / Brigit Maersk), three product/crude carriers (Maersk Virtue / Maersk Nautilus / Maersk Neptune) and three pure car carriers (Maersk Crest / Maersk Cloud / Maersk Sky).

On October 1, 2004 Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) announced that it had signed agreements with the Maritime Administration that will transfer six Maritime Security Program (MSP) operating agreements to modern containerships that will replace six existing MSP vessels built in the 1980s and managed by U.S. Ship Management, Inc. (USSM). The new replacement vessels are: Sealand Intrepid, Sealand Lightning, Sealand Charger, Sealand Comet, Sealand Meteor and Alva Maersk.

Seafarers are sailing aboard five containerships operated by Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) that have transferred into the U.S. Maritime Security Program, replacing older tonnage. Agreements were signed Oct. 1, 2004 between MLL and the U.S. Maritime Administration to transfer the Maritime Security Program contracts on six existing SIU-crewed MSP vessels built in the 1980s and managed by U.S. Ship Management, Inc. (USSM) to six newer containerships.

Seafarers crewed up MLL's Sealand Charger Oct. 28 in Los Angeles; the Sealand Meteor Nov. 9 in Dubai; the Alva Maersk - since renamed the Maersk Alabama - Nov. 10 in Dubai; and both the Sealand Intrepid and Sealand Comet Nov. 16 in Los Angeles. The Sealand Lightning was due to join the fleet in Southern California. A sixth MLL vessel was scheduled to enter the fleet in late November or early December 2004.

MSP age limits require that older vessels be replaced in the current program before reaching 25 years of age. The replacements were approved by the Maritime Administration and the U.S. Transportation Command and represent a significant improvement in the ability of MLL's U.S.-flag fleet to serve its military and commercial customers. All vessels will be integrated into MLL's existing U.S.-flag fleet operations, streamlining operations and creating efficiencies in MLL's global network of intermodal assets, including terminals, cranes, logistical platforms, computerized management systems, containers and chassis. The transfers will strengthen the MSP for military purposes and enhance the U.S.-flag presence in international shipping.

Audacious fraudsters repeatedly scammed AP Moller-Maersk out of millions of dollars in a series of bogus shipping contracts, says the Danish liner giant. In May 2005 Maersk was now in US courts chasing $24.95m in treble damages. A federal court has ordered up to that amount attached as it wires its way through New York banks to the defendants in the case, including Arwen Singh Sahni and his family members and associates. Those behind the scheme, many of them described as Kuwait-based Indian nationals, are also said to have pulled a separate, simultaneous con of a similar scale on unnamed other lines. The complex scheme involved shipping low-value goods on fraudulent, high-value bills of lading and then suing Maersk for the apparent loss of merchandise that never existed, according to papers filed with the Southern District of New York federal court. The alleged con artists even succeeded in getting a Maersk containership, the geared, 1,100-teu Alva Maersk (now the US-flag Maersk Alabama , built 1998), arrested in Kuwait to satisfy their claims. Maersk had to put up a $1.86m bank guarantee in April 2004 to get the ship released.

ex-Alva Maersk
VESSEL BUILDER1976 Flender Werft
Length Overall237,90m 780' 6-1/8"508.5 ft
LBP224,52m 763' 6-1/2"
Beam Molded30,59m 100' 3/4"82.0 ft
Depth45.5 ft
Design Draft11,68m 39' 5-3/8"
Propulsion Slow Speed Hitachi B&W
31,800 BHP x 97 RPM
Design Speed 21 Kts
Displacement at Design Draft 30,662 L.Tons
Gross Tonnage (GT ITC) 34.38214,10014,120
DWT Deadweight31.56017,400 17,525
Gross Tonnage (GRT)
Net Tonnage (NRT)
Container Capacity 1,399 TEUs

NameFormer NameBuilderLaunchedDecom
MAERSK ALABAMAAlva MaerskTaiwan-


Maersk Alva 1976 Maersk Alabama Maersk Alabama [ex Maersk Alva]

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:49:42 ZULU