Zeamarine Carrier is inching towards its target of more than 100 multipurpose (MPP) vessels, taking delivery of six time-­chartered newbuildings.

The heavylift, project and breakbulk operator is taking delivery of five ships secured in earlier deals and has taken a sixth vessel on long-term time charter from Chinese shipmanager New Legend.

On Monday, Zeamarine took ­delivery of the 13,300-dwt Zea Frontier (built 2019), the fourth in a series of New F-class 900 designs equipped with two 450-tonne cranes.

Caribbean services

A fifth sistership, the Zea Fast (built 2019), is slated for delivery on 20 January, while the 8,500-dwt Zea Color (built 2019), the last of four MPPs designed for Caribbean services, is due next week.

Frank Fischer, who took over as global managing director of Zeamarine’s tonnage procurement following the merger in September between Germany’s Zeaborn and US operator Intermarine, said it has also done a time-­charter deal with a Chinese owner for a 12,300-dwt, F-500-type vessel.

The ship, which is equipped with two 250-tonne cranes, will be operated under the name Zea Servant (built 2018) and was delivered from Taizhou Sanfu Shipbuilding in December. Brokers reported it was to be fixed for 60 months at more than $9,000 per day.

The vessel was originally ordered by Nordic Hamburg but has been taken over by New Legend, a shipmanagement company understood to be linked to Chinese shipyards.

The first of the New F-class 900 designs were Industrial Fame (built 2017) and Industrial Fusion (built 2018), delivered in November.

Zeamarine took delivery of the Zea Frontier this week Photo: Zeamarine Carrier

They were originally ordered by Intermarine from China’s Hudong-­Zhonghua Shipbuilding and Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard.

The ships, taken on the back of financing from CSSC Leasing, are technically managed by Hammonia Reederei.

The deliveries — the first since Zeamarine was formed — are part of plans to grow its fleet from 85 MPPs to more than 100.

The company is also looking at newbuildings. “That is one thing we are doing, but there is also the possibility of organic growth,” ­Fischer said.

Hansa Heavy Lift

Some observers have pointed to Zeamarine as a potential home for the fleet of bankrupt heavylift operator Hansa Heavy Lift, but the company has not commented on this.

The newbuildings that the company has already secured are integral to Zeamarine’s strategy of operating a modern fleet equipped to deal with the challenge of emissions regulations after 2020.

But Fischer sees no point in ­investing in scrubbers on its vessels, which, given the nature of the MPP sector, tend to be smaller ships with wider beams and high fuel consumption.

Frank Fischer sees a future after the 2020 emissions changes for Zeamarine’s Vectis series of low-­emission, 8,600-dwt vessels, including the Vectis Osprey (built 2016) Photo: Martainn MacDhomhnaill

“For us, the scrubber is, for the smaller ships, not a viable solution,” he said.

He expressed concerns over the ability of refiners to supply sufficient quantities of high-sulphur fuel in ports around the world.

Fischer also argued that some older ships will find it difficult to obtain backhaul cargoes, while their hefty CO2 footprint will make them unappealing to environmentally conscious shippers. Non-eco, non-scrubber-equipped MPP vessels are, he believes, “condemned to death”.

But some older designs run by Zeamarine will remain viable, ­including the Vectis series of low-­emission, 8,600-dwt MPP vessels.

These “have survival capacity because they are economic”, ­Fischer said.

The MPP industry is helped by growing demand from the renewables sector, especially offshore wind. The rising oil price also gives hope for investment in projects that could lead to more product cargoes.