FOLLOWING the announcement early this month by Wan Hai Line’s directors that the shipping line has earmarked US$360 million dollars for second-hand ships, the Taiwanese liner has lined up its fifth purchase this year.

The carrier confirmed that it had purchased the 2010-built 4,178-TEU Teal Hunter from Belgian shipping group Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), for US$18.25 million.

This is the oldest ship investment move this year by the 69-eight ship strong Wan Hai who is renewing its fleet. This year, the Taiwanese intra-Asia shipping specialist has already purchased five second-hand ships, including two Neo-Panamax 11,923-TEU units from PIL, spending over US$240 million.

In a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange, Wan Hai said that it has tasked its Singapore subsidiary, Wan Hai Lines (Singapore), to undertake the procurement. This may be due to tax exemptions offered to major shipping enterprises in Singapore, according to media reports.

It is obvious that Wan Hai is optimistic about the firming market and does not want to wait for new ships to be built. Pre-owned ships can quickly join the company’s fleet without the staff having to spend time on newbuilding design and supervision. Charter rates have also been rising and expanding its owned fleet enables Wan Hai to manage its costs.

In addition, Wan Hai is also spending US$109 million on 37,000 new containers due to the acute shortage of containers resulting from the lack of Transpacific backhaul cargoes leading to the slow return of empty boxes.