Three owners have ordered open-hatch ships recently, a vessel type developed in the 1960s for handling forest products as well as containers, but now seeing wider employment. Saga Shipholding of Norway, a subsidiary of Japan’s NYK, has ordered a series of seven 55,000dwt open-hatch bulk carriers in Asia for a total price approaching US$400 million. South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & ME will build five of the vessels, while Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding will complete two.

All of the box-hold ships will be delivered between October 2012 and August 2013 for operation by Saga Forest Carriers, which currently operates a fleet of 24 open-hatch vessels. At the same time, Norway’s Grieg Shipping has exercised two options attached to its order for six 48,000dwt open-hatchers placed last year with South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo.

The original order was confirmed at a price of $48.35 million per vessel, and the two most recent orders will be built for approximately the same price, both for delivery in 2013-14. Grieg, a leading owner of open-hatch ships, has a further two options available that could be completed before 2014.

A company entering the open-hatch business for the first time is South Korea’s STX Pan Ocean, which is ordering a series of 57,000dwt boxhold ships from STX Offshore & SB.

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