Thai liner operator Regional Container Lines’ foray into the neo-panamax segment will be through the purchase of two 12,000 teu newbuild resales from Japan’s Imabari Shipbuilding.

At a cost of $115m each, the ships are understood to have been ordered by Imabari’s ship-owning affiliate, Shoei Kisen Kaisha.

Vessel databases indicate that the ships will be delivered in September 2022 and January 2023, and will be named Santi Bhum and Thitti Bhum.

They are sister vessels to newbuildings Shoei Kisen Kaisha ordered for long-term charter to carriers Yang Ming and Evergreen.

RCL announced the acquisitions in August, but did not disclose additional information, other than the seller was a Panama-incorporated entity, Giant Line, and whent the ships were to be delivered.

This month, RCL, primarily an intra-Asia carrier, informed the Stock Exchange of Thailand that it had incorporated individual vessel-owning special purpose vehicles in the country to own the ships.

While RCL’s representative declined to disclose deployment plans, Linerlytica analyst Tan Hua Joo told The Loadstar RCL was likely to use them on its Persian Gulf service, which uses larger vessels.

This year, RCL has bought six ships, joining the rush for tonnage amid a red-hot market. Currently the 23rd largest liner operator, RCL owns 41 ships with capacities ranging from 628 teu to 6,350 teu.

For the first half, RCL’s net profit rose 27-fold to $190.5m, citing surging demand for durable goods and medical supplies due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Source : The Loadstar