Bermuda-based Ship Finance International Limited (SFIL) issued a statement on Friday, confirming market rumors that it had ordered a series of four 8,700 teu sister vessels from ‘a major shipyard in Korea’. The undisclosed yard is believed to be Sungdong.
The New York Stock Exchange-registred SFIL said that the vessels are scheduled to be delivered during the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015. The price of the ships has not been disclosed, but the investor described the shipyard’s offer as ‘attractive’ and underlined that the vessels will be built to high specifications with state-of-the art eco-features.
The container ships will be marketed for long-term charters and SFIL said it had already seen firm interest from leading operators.
CMA CGM appears to be the most likely charterer, as the French Line is believed to seek an alternative for four 9,200 teu vessels that it planned to charter from China’s CIMC, a container manufacturer that recently expanded its scope to become a vessel owner.
Backed by long-term charters to CMA CGM, CIMC had ordered in 2012 a series of ten identical compact wide-beam container ships. Six of these were contracted at Dalian New Shipyard, whereas the remaining four units were ordered at STX Dalian Shipyard . Earlier this year, it has been reported that CIMC and STX Dalian failed to agree on certain details of the ship financing and that CIMC eventually cancelled its order. Assuming that these reports are correct, the cancellation would leave CMA CGM four ships short of its target to receive ten newbuildings in the 9,000 teu range. Thus, the French Line is believed to have agreed in principle upon a charter deal with SFIL.
Excluding the four new orders, SFIL already owns a fleet of 11 container vessels. Nine of these are in the size range of 1,700 to 2,800 teu and chartered to various operators. Furthemore, the comapny owns the 13,344 teu sisters CMA CGM MAGELLAN and CMA CGM CORTE REAL, both bareboat chartered to CMA CGM on long-term contracts.
In addition, SFIL has four 4,800 teu overpanamax ships or order, scheduled to join charterer Hamburg Süd this year and in early 2014.