Both Braemar ACM and Alphaliner have identified Star Bulk of Greece as one of the first cape owners to receive class approval to fix one of its 175,000 dwt capesizes to ship containers.
Alphaliner reports the bulk carrier will carry a total of about 1,400 teu, including 200 laden boxes and 1,200 empties repositioned from Europe to China, providing a highly profitable ballast leg for the Petros Pappas-led firm in what the container analysts described as a “historic first”. Braemar ACM, meanwhile, stated the boxes would be carried on deck.
“The ongoing critical shortage of space onboard container vessels is pushing some desperate shippers to opt for rather creative ways of shipping their containers,” Alphaliner reported in its latest weekly report.
Star Bulk is not the only dry bulk owner readying to move containers with rumoured deals done for shipments on a range of sizes from capes down to supramaxes in recent weeks.
“The demand for container shipping is so strong that reverberations are leading exporters to charter bulk carriers for carrying containers,” the UK P&I Club, a leading ship insurer, noted in a recent update.
Splash has been in contact with a number of dry bulk shipowners this month who are currently in touch with class, flag and insurers, looking at making their ships capable of moving containers.
The dearth of cellular container tonnage in the charter market has also forced many companies to tap into the multipurpose (MPP) and open hatch bulk carrier (OHBC) markets to cover their needs this year, sending MPP rates into record territory.