With effect from 4 April, 2004, Hatsu Marine Ltd, the UK-flag container vessel operator that is part of Taiwan's Evergreen Group, is to take over from Evergreen Marine Corporation (Taiwan) Ltd. (EMC) its operational responsibility for the ELS service. In so doing, it will become a partner alongside Lloyd Triestino and Hapag Lloyd in the day-to-day management of this intra-Europe regional service. This is an important step for Hatsu as it is the first time the company has assumed such a role, explains the company's Chairman, Maurice Storey:"Hatsu Marine Limited was established as a container shipping company in January 2002 and in addition to constructing seven new containerships for UK flag operation, we have been building up our line management capabilities. The ELS service, linking the Mediterranean and North Europe, is one of the Evergreen Group's regional services. We expect to take on further service management responsibilities in the near future, including the launch of new services centred on Northern Europe, working independently and with partners." The ELS or Europe - Levant Espress service offers a weekly schedule maintained by four chartered vessels that maintain the following port rotation: Rotterdam . Hamburg - Antwerp - Lisbon - Gioia Tauro-Taranto - Piraeus - Istanbul - Izmir - Taranto - Rotterdam. The ELS service has been tailored to fit into the partner lines' existing global service networks and connect with a large number of additional ports in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Black Sea. In the case of Hatsu and Lloyd Triestino, they are able to take full advantage of the feeder services that operate out of Taranto, the Evergreen Group's principal hub port in the Mediterranean. Over the North European ports covered by ELS service, links are provided to Scandinavia and Baltic Sea ports. Hatsu Marine Limited, a UK company with its headquarters in London, was established by the Evergreen Group as a UK-flag container shipping company in January 2002. Its first ship was the 6332TEU Hatsu Eagle, completed in October 2001. Three sister vessels - Hatsu Envoy, Hatsu Excel and Hatsu Elite - entered service in 2002 while the fifth ship in the E-type series from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hatsu Ethic, was delivered in January 2003. The company also took delivery of two 1618TEU P-type vessels, Hatsu Pride in January 2003 and Hatsu Prima in July 2003. The E-type vessels are currently operating in the transpacific trades between tha Far East and North America and through a series of slot exchange agreements with other Evergreen Group members, Hatsu now offers US and Asian customers seven weekly transpacific services. In January 2004, again through a slot exchange arrangement; Hatsu launched a weekly service between North Europe and Asia. It is envisaged that Hatsu will launch further services on this route and elsewhere during 2004.