Bangladeshi feeder operator HR Lines is developing links with Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka buying two second-hand vessels with the promise of more to come – although it has shelved plans for newbuildings.

MD Raimah Chowdhury told The Loadstar had taken delivery of the 1999-built 1,100 teu HR Turag (ex-Maersk Arun), acquiring the vessel from Maersk Line in November for an undisclosed price. Its current market value is $6.45m.

The 2003-built 1,700 teu Bangkok has been acquired from  SITC Shipowning and is expected to join HR Lines’ fleet on 31 January, renamed HR Balu. Its purchase price was also not revealed, but is currently market valued at around $9m.

The purchases bring HR Lines’ fleet to eight, with a total capacity of 11,840 teu. Currently, the largest South Asian-owned liner operator, it is ranked 78th, without the latest purchases.

Ms Chowdhury said, “We plan to acquire more ships this year and this will facilitate upgrading our feeder services connecting Chattogram with the major transhipment hubs of Colombo, Singapore and Port Klang. Our immediate focus is to deploy over 50% of our tonnage between Chattogram and each of the hubs.”

HR Lines was incorporated in March 2020 in response to demand for liner shipping servicing Bangladesh imports and exports. It is part of the Karnaphuli group founded by Hedayat Hossain Chowdhury in 1954, with business interests spanning ports, shipping, media, healthcare, real estate, retail and insurance/finance.

Following its launch, HR Lines purchased two 1,550 teu ships from Singapore’s Pacific International Lines, the HR Sahare and HR Sarera for liner services to/from Bangladesh which began in July 2020.

Ms Chowdhury said HR Lines had ambitions to become South Asia’s leading feeder operator, adding: “HR Lines started at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Bangladesh and the region were in lockdown. It’s our need to add tonnage as well as increase service frequencies that has led us to expand our fleet.”

In November 2021, HR Lines held discussions with Chinese shipbuilders for new feeder ships, but did not proceed. Ms Chowdhury explained: “Upcoming infrastructure development at Chattogram will allow us to handle larger ships. Also, developments in the energy sector and new fuels persuaded us to wait.

“When the time is right, we’ll certainly look into newbuildings again.”

Source : The Loadstar