News & Updates

Port Canaveral to host commercial vessels for U.S. reflag conversion process

Five Hapag-Lloyd container ships to be converted to US registry under the federal Maritime Security Program

The Hapag-Lloyd container ship Al Bahia arrived at Port Canaveral to begin the required conversion process to reflag the vessel in the United States. The Al Bahia will be renamed the Delaware Express and is the first of five Hapag-Lloyd container vessels owned and operated by the global shipping giant scheduled to undergo the U.S. reflagging process in Port Canaveral over the next several months. Once the U.S. reflagging process is completed, each vessel will be included in the federal Maritime Security Program (MSP) and made available for use when necessary by the U.S. government while it continues to operate commercially in international trade.

Three tugs, the Christine S, Elizabeth S. and the Hawk, turned the 1,003-foot-long, 131-foot-wide vessel in the Middle Basin before docking at Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 1. The ship will undergo an extensive reflag process and ultimately manned with a U.S. Captain and crew – a requirement of the MSP program. The five Hapag-Lloyd ships to undergo the reflag process at Port Canaveral are among the largest container vessels to call on the Port. Each of the vessels have a capacity of approximately 6900 cargo containers that are 20 feet long, and each will have a crew of about 20.  Each vessel is currently operated under foreign flags with a foreign crew.  

“This is a great project for our Port, and we are excited to be a partner in this process to strengthen the U.S. flag fleet,” stated Capt. John Murray, Port CEO. “As we welcome the Al Bahia, we thank Hapag-Lloyd USA, LLC for its confidence in our port’s ability to work with them on their reflagging project. It may not be a cruise ship, but it’s great to see this magnificent vessel alongside our berth.”

Al Bahia arrives at Port Canaveral’s Cruise Terminal 1
(Photo: Canaveral Port Authority)

Hapag-Lloyd, a German international shipping and container transportation company, chose Port Canaveral as the site to convert five of its cargo container ships to sail as U.S. flagged ships. Hapag-Lloyd USA, LLC is a long-standing transportation provider to U.S. government agencies and specializes in handling U.S. military sustainment and supplies, food and humanitarian aid, household goods and privately-owned vehicles of servicemen and servicewomen and cargo for U.S. embassies. 

The vessel reflagging plan was presented at the regular March meeting of the Canaveral Port Authority Board of Commissioners. “This is a great opportunity to have some more business here,” stated Canaveral Port Authority Commission Chairman RADM Wayne Justice (USCG-Ret). “Port Canaveral has a strong partnership with the USCG and U.S. Customs and Border Protection and we look forward to processing these significant sized container ships at our berths.”  

Upon arrival, the ship will undergo extensive upgrades to be compliant and qualify as U.S. flagged ships under the Maritime Security Program. The program works to maintain a fleet of commercially viable military useful merchant ships for international trade. The majority of the new American crew will take this opportunity to receive orientation prior to boarding the vessel here at the Port. 

The four additional Hapag-Lloyd vessels scheduled for U.S. reflagging at Port Canaveral by mid-August include the Al Kharj to be renamed the Colorado Express, the Al Rawdah which will become the Hudson Express, the Al Hilal to be renamed the Missouri Express, and the Mayssan which will become the Potomac Express

# # #