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© Richardpross

Containership owner Global Ship Lease (GSL) has announced the five-year charters of two sister 8,667 teu post-panamax vessels to MSC.

The carrier is continuing to snap up any large tonnage that comes on the market to cover its large scrubber installation programme that will see a substantial number of its ships out of service before the IMO 2020 regulations come into force.

The fixture of the 2004- and 2005-built ex-OOCL-owned ships will commence on completion of their current charters at the end of the second quarter, and they will be renamed MSC Tianjin and MSC Qingdao.

According to GSL, the ships are currently earning $13,000 and $14,000 a day, but has so far not disclosed the terms with MSC. However, one broker source told The Loadstar today “the word is they have been fixed at around $25,000 a day”.

He said: “The large tonnage sector is totally sold out and I have had liners offering a premium for anything coming available, with offers of charters of two years or more.”

Speaking during the Seaspan Corporation Q1 earnings call last week, Peter Curtis, executive VP and chief commercial and technical officer said, there had been “significant increases in charter rates for the 8,500 teu-10,000 teu segment, where idle capacity is almost nil at this time”.

“In the leasing space, liners with very large scrubber programmes have been active at securing larger tonnage for longer periods to secure coverage for a year or two as large vessels are taken out of service for scrubber installation,” said Mr Curtis.

He added that scrubber retrofitting was expected to “artificially reduce fleet growth by around 1% of total teu capacity for the next one-to-two years” and there was “no orderbook” for any containerships in the 4,000 teu-10,000 teu range with newbuild orders favouring ultra-large vessels of over 18,000 teu.

In a recent survey, Alphaliner identified 16 containerships undergoing scrubber retrofits in Chinese yards alone, each vessel out of service for 30-50 days.

The consultant said: “The number of containerships taken out will increase in the second half as owners rush to install scrubbers before the new IMO 2020 sulphur fuel cap comes into effect on 1 January.”

The new charter parties with MSC follow last week’s announcement from GSL that it had concluded a deal with Zim to charter two 5,936 teu 2000-built sister ships for a minimum of 21 months.

GSL executive chairman George Youroukos said: “These five-year charters to MSC demonstrate the long-term appeal of our fuel-efficient, high reefer capacity, low-slot-cost post-panamax vessels to a leading liner company.”

GSL merged with Greek shipowner Poseidon Containers late last year, with Poseidon taking a 70% majority stake and GSL’s previous majority shareholder, CMA CGM, retaining a minority stake.

GSL owns 38 containerships, ranging in size from 2,207 teu to 11,040 teu, for a total capacity of 200,615 teu.

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