The 2,500-TEU containership Azargoun called at the Port of Hamburg on March 17, signaling the reopening of Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines’ “European Container Line” (ECL) between Northern Europe and ports in the Persian Gulf. The service had been suspended since mid-2010 because of sanctions imposed on Iran. The new service will operate with 2,500-TEU containerships, calling at Hamburg and Antwerp, along with Genoa, Istanbul, Port Said and Bandar Abbas.
The 207m x 29.8m Azargoun was built for IRISL at what was then the Aker MTW shipyard in Wismar in 2003.
IRISL’s liner services will be represented in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands by IRISL Agency (North) GmbH, based in Hamburg and with branches in Antwerp and Rotterdam. The firm was jointly set up by Peter W. Lampke GmbH & Co. KG (PWL) and IRISL (Europe) GmbH
With the lifting of sanctions, the expectations among German companies is that there is immense pent-up demand for investment goods for the oil, automotive, chemical and energy sectors.
Germany is traditionally Iran’s largest trading partner in the West. Hamburg, in particular, where so many Iranians have settled and set up businesses, has for generations maintained very close and friendly relations with firms and state organizations in Iran. Prior to sanctions, the main imports via Hamburg were barley, potash fertilizers, feedstuffs and machinery. As exports from Iran, fresh and tinned fruit, yarns, other textiles, rubber and vegetables topped the list in the Port of Hamburg.
IRISL owns 170 vessels and has operated regular services with containerships and conventional tonnage. In its East Asia service, for instance, IRISL deploys ships with a capacity of 6,500 TEU. Additional liner services to SE Asia are run with 2,200 to 2,500-TEU ships. IRISL also runs container services from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean as well as East Africa.