Marie Delmas

Global Ship Lease (GSL) has announced that it has extended its charters with CMA CGM of the 2,207 teu geared Marie Delmas and Kumasi at a revised rate of $13,000 per day, compared to the current rate of $18,465.

The 2001/2002-built sister ships are deployed on CMA CGM’s Africa Indian Oceania service and their new time charters at the reduced rate began on 1 August, and are valid until the previous earliest expiry dates of the original charter parties in September next year.

Thereafter GSL has agreed options with the French carrier, which has a 45% shareholding in the ship owner, through to December 2020 at a fixed rate of $9,800 per day.

Ian Webber, GSL chief executive, said: “We are pleased to have secured extended terms through the end of 2020 for two of our earliest expiring charters, increasing our contracted revenue by $19m at a time when much of the container shipping market continues to experience significant distress.”

Mr Webber added that the options positioned GSL to “benefit in a strengthening market” while ensuring a base charter rate for the ships “in excess of the current spot market rates”.

Indeed, a similar ship, the 2002-built geared 2,526 teu Wehr Trave was recently reported to have been fixed for four-six months at a daily rate of just $6,500 – half of the amount that CMA CGM is currently paying, even after the reduction from GSL.

Mr Webber reiterated that “long-term contracts with high quality counterparties are a central component of Global Ship Lease’s strategy”.

However, for GSL, and especially the larger containership lessors that are not part-owned by a shipping line, the expiry of charters is a ticking time bomb that could seriously impact their long-term viability – unless the market improves dramatically beforehand.

The NYSE-listed shipowner has a fleet of 18 containerships, of which 15 are chartered to CMA CGM with the three remaining vessels on charter to OOCL.

GSL entered a sale and leaseback deal with OOCL in 2015 for three 2005-built 8,063 teu sister ships, the OOCL Tianjin, OOCL Qingdao and OOCL Ningbo, involving a 36 month/3-month time charter at $34,500 per day, expiring in 2018.

Elsewhere, Maersk Line has secured the 8,814 teu Northern Jasper, for deployment on its AC3 Asia-Mexico-USWC service, for a period of six-12 months at just $9,500 per day.

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