Optimistic Eimskip signs up for new container ships

Iceland’s biggest road and maritime freight handling company has signed a contract for two brand new container ships — just three years after nearly collapsing under the weight of debt.

Eimskipafelag Islans (literally the Steamship Company of Iceland) — usually known just as Einskip, has signed a contract for the construction of two brand new container ships to be built in China.

The ships’ design is German and German engineers will run the shipbuilding project in China, RUV reports.

The two ships will be around 140 metres long and 23 metres wide and their capacity will be 12,000 tonnes.

It is expected they will cost in the region of ISK 5.8 billion (EUR 36.3 million) and that they will be delivered to Eimskip in early 2013.

Eimskip president Gylfi Sigfusson says that a strong financial position has enabled the company to invest in this way. The arrival of the new ships will mean more jobs for Icelandic sailors; as the company has said it aims to staff all its container ships with Icelandic crew.

During the economic collapse of 2008, Eimskip found itself responsible for tens-of-millions of euros of debt and nearly collapsed. It was the first major Icelandic company (outside the banking sector) to restructure its debts and its ownership transferred to its biggest creditors from Iceland and internationally. The owner/creditors agreed not to strip the company of assets, but instead to invest and make it a profitable concern once again. Their work appears to be paying off.

Eimskip is Iceland’s largest road haulier and international shipping company.