Seatrade Royal Klipper Coquimbo Chile Photo 199290945 © Klodien
Seatrade Royal Klipper Coquimbo Chile. © Klodien

Dutch reefer cargo handler Seatrade is diversifying into the reefer container sector with a four-vessel newbuilding order from China.

The aim is to undercut the big carriers and offer some relief to “squeezed-out” perishables shippers.

The company has ordered four 1,800teu containerships from the Huanghai Shipyard in China, due for delivery from October 2023. The vessels, Seatrade said, willeach  have around 1,300 reefer slots.

The SDARI Sealion 1800 BKK Class vessels, designed by the Ship Design and Research Institute, a China State Shipbuilding Corp subsidiary, are a departure for Seatrade, which has traditionally operated classic bulk reefer ships and a number of small feeders, but none with more than 500teu of reefer slots.

The new vessels will be operated according to the carrier’s “fast, direct and dedicated” (FDD) philosophy, Seatrade said, and would offer an alternative to “increasing… transit times and associated costs” on services offered by the container giants and provide capacity for seasonal volume fluctuations.

The Dutch group announced its intention to continue to grow its fleet with further newbuildings as well as second-hand tonnage.

The news follows consternation from shippers of perishables, who say they are being squeezed out by the big carriers, with reefer cargo arriving past shelf lives and at exorbitant costs.

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