Hong Kong-based Mandarin Shipping has completed its initial order of 1,748 teu container feeder vessels with the naming of the sixth vessel in the series at Zhejiang Ouhua Shipbuilding. The Mount Nicholson, named like earlier ships after one of the mountains in Mandarin’s hometown, joins the Mandarin fleet just as rates on modern feeder tonnage are enjoying something of a revival.
Mandarin Shipping chairman Tim Huxley commented that it wasn’t just a question of the ship being delivered at an opportune time, but also the growing recognition amongst charterers of the benefits of the Topaz class feedership.
“Since we started taking delivery of these ships last year, we have been able to provide conclusive proof of the benefits of this design in terms of efficiencies in fuel consumption, intake and flexibility,” he said, adding: “Charterers are taking note of the benefits of this design and this is being reflected in greater demand for our ships and we certainly hope the current trend in rates can be maintained. We are now focused on ensuring operational excellence to achieve our aim of being a first class, Asian based tonnage provider in the feeder sector. It’s still a very tough market, but we stand by our initial belief that this is the right place for us to be right now.”
Mandarin now has five ships on the water, all trading within Asia to a variety of major charterers. The company disposed of number three in the series earlier this year in an opportunistic piece of asset play with a sale to CNAN Med of Algeria. As regards further plans for expansion Huxley, who established Mandarin with former Clarkson colleague William Fairclough, said: ‘Naturally we want to grow the business, but it has to be the right assets at the right price. We are very pleased with the ships we have and the reputation they are building amongst charterers and we get a lot of proposals on various ships which might look cheap on paper, but they really don’t stack up in terms of what charterers want and that is reflected in earnings.”