Intermodal chassis leasing firm Direct ChassisLink Inc. (DCLI) said today it acquired all 11,000 marine chassis owned by the North American arm of Japanese liner shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha Inc. (NYK) that were operated on the U.S. mainland. The move furthers the trend of shipping lines exiting the U.S. chassis business in favor of leasing companies that rent out the equipment to truckers and other stakeholders through third-party pools at marine and inland port terminals.
The 11,000 units will be placed in pools managed by Consolidated Chassis Management LLC (CCM), as well as in the Hampton Roads, Va. pool. DCLI controls about 133,000 chassis out of 160 U.S. locations. NYK will continue to own chassis used in Alaska and Hawaii.
Charlotte-based DCLI said it has been designated by NYK as its exclusive chassis provider in CCM pools. Truckers that use the equipment to haul goods for NYK's customers will begin receiving rental invoices from DCLI effective March 1, DCLI said.
The CCM model follows port and railroad industry guidelines calling for one primary chassis pool to operate at a given terminal facility. The CCM pools enable chassis leasing companies to conduct business as neutral providers while still working within the CCM pools. CCM is based in Budd Lake, N.J.
With the advent of containerization in the mid-1950s, ship lines calling U.S. ports would make chassis available to truckers free of charge, making the U.S. the only global maritime market that followed such an approach. This was done to promote the containerization concept, and to assure shippers and receivers that they would be able to find a trucker with an available chassis. In recent years, however, carriers burdened with high chassis repair, maintenance, and storage costs began leaving the market, paving the way for the entry of chassis leasing companies and neutral chassis pools.
DCLI was formed in 1974 as Maersk Container Service Co. (MCSC), a unit of Danish liner giant Maersk Line that focused on maintenance and repair of containers, chassis, and refrigeration-unit generator sets. The unit was reorganized in the late 1990s as Maersk Equipment Service Co. (MESC) to reflect a larger portion of its work being devoted to servicing chassis and containers.
As its chassis fleet expanded, Maersk in 2007 shifted container and refrigerator-unit repairs to another division and made MESC solely responsible for chassis maintenance and leasing. In 2009, Maersk decided to exit the chassis provisioning business, and MESC re-branded itself as DCLI and began marketing chassis on a fee-per-day basis to motor carriers.
Besides motor carriers, DCLI provides chassis to marine terminal operators, non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs), steamship lines, and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs). In 2016, DCLI was acquired by EQT, a private equity firm.