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Nova Marine Carriers: Technology and partnerships to weather the storm

Amid the current challenging market scenario for dry bulk shipping, Nova Marine Carriers is facing the crisis following two main routes: investments in technology and new partnerships.

The shipping company headquartered in Lugano in Switzerland and founded by the seasoned Italian shipowner Giovanni Romeo from Naples operates a varied fleet of modern bulk carriers and belt self unloading vessels ranging from 5,000 dwt up to 57,000 dwt. With over one hundred ships under control, Nova specializes in bulk traffic in the Mediterrenean, Atlantic and Persian Gulf and in Italian cabotage.

“Partnership is the leitmotiv of our shipowning and commercial vocation,” is written on the company’s website and is very much is modus operandi of late. Nova Marine Carriers in the last twelve months teamed up with Navesco (a JV for operating dry bulk vessels on routes to and from the Americas), with Algoma Central (a JV active in the cement sea transport business) and with Carisbroke Shipping (a JV active in the niche of the small handysize bulkers market). The most recent news announced by Nova was a wider partnership still to be defined with the Canadian Algoma Central group aimed at creating a new initiative in global short sea shipping.

“As a result of these actions our fleet soared from 60 to 104 units from 2016 to 2017,” says Vincenzo Romeo, son of the founder Giovanni and at the helm of the company together with his brother Antonello and his sister Laura.

“Since my father started investing in ships in the ‘80s all our history in shipping is based on partnerships, first with steel trader and producer Duferco, and then also with cement producer Italcementi group which is now part of the German HeidelbergCement group. They needed someone skilled in shipping and interested at investing in tailor-made ships for their supply chains and this step marked the beginning. We started with 5,000 dwt open hatch dry bulk carriers and today we operate ships up to 60,000 dwt capacity.”

According to Romeo transporting cement by sea is a highly qualified business school since the incidence of seafreight rates on the cargo value is significant considering that a single ton of cement is worth €40 today. “Our duty is to take care of the transport and logistics activities on behalf of our partners finding the most efficient way and the appropriate vessels to move their cargo from one point to another. In the everyday business we are used to do our job following the latest market trends heavily investing in technology,” adds Nova’s CEO emphasising the fact that they have recently ordered a new cement carrier in China which will be the first equipped with dual fuel propulsion system in the world.

“We must follow the market and the legislation produced in the shipping industry,” Romeo says, noting that many of their ships deployed in the North Sea and in the Baltic region have been retrofitted with scrubber systems in order to make them compliant with the rules introduced in the ECA areas.

“Today our main goals are to protect the environment and find the best solutions to make our ships as competitive as possible. The key factor is the idle time and we want our ships to spend the least time possible in the ports,” Romeo says.

That’s the reason why the Lugano-based company is constantly looking for projects and technologies capable of reducing idle time and optimising its vessels’ capacity to transport steel products, cement and other dry bulk cargoes.

“Apart from the challenge to deal with the Chinese owners’ pressure on freight rates for bulk carriers, we as a European shipping company have to bet on technology and customer service to stay afloat in the current storm,” concludes Romeo.

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