Bergen-based Wilson Group, operator of one of Europe’s largest fleets of short-sea and coastal cargo vessels, has awarded a provisional order to a Chinese yard for the construction of two 88m, 2,600dwt single-decker newbuilds. The contract is subject to the formalisation of refund guarantee arrangements with Wuxue Janda Shipbuilding, expected to be confirmed within Q2 2018.
Each of the planned short-sea dry cargo carriers will command a price of €4 million (US$5 million), and deliveries are stipulated in 2019. As Wilson previously booked a trio of similar ships from Wuxue Janda, two of which are in service, the latest project signifies an extension to the existing programme.
Orders for newbuilds under 3,000dwt to serve intra-European traffic have been few and far between for some years, as the costs involved necessitate economies of scale in traditionally low-margin bulk and industrial trades. However, Wilson’s move for further newbuild tonnage underscores the Norwegian company’s long-term belief in the market and the tonnage segment involved, in which it is already well represented.
As of February 2018, Wilson deployed a fleet of 118 vessels, including 82 owned ships, spanning 1,500-8,500dwt. Wilson Bergen (pictured, above right), the first of the 2,600dwt class from the initial order placed with Wuxue Janda in 2015, entered the fleet in 2016, followed last year by Wilson Rotterdam. The third vessel is nearing completion at the Hubei yard, and handover is expected by the end of June this year.
The design has a length overall of just under 88m, a moulded breadth of 11.45m and a summer draught of 4.1m. Wilson Bergen embodies a single, flush-sided, box-like hold affording a 3,389m³ capacity for bulk and bale cargoes alike. Additional cargo-carrying versatility, including scope for grain separation and small parcels of bulk commodities, is afforded by two movable bulkheads that can be placed in six different positions within the hold space.
The tank top is strengthened for load bearing at 15tonnes/m², giving suitability for denser freight such as steel coils and forestry goods, while the pontoon-type hatch covers allow for deck stows at a maximum 1.5tonnes/m².
The main engine is a six-cylinder diesel of 1,326kW output manufactured by Anglo Belgian Corporation (ABC), providing a top speed of 10.6knots. A 150kW bow thruster enhances manoeuvring at confined-space berths and in narrow, tidal channels.
The Norwegian operator recently augmented the wholly-owned part of its fleet by purchasing two 89m single-deckers from German integrated transport specialist Bremer Lloyd. Transacted at €5.8 million (US$7.1 million), the deal, signed in January, embraced the 4,345dwt sisters Hanseatic Trader and Wilson Holla, completed in 2001 and 2002 respectively by the Peters shipyard at Kampen. As her name suggests, Wilson Holla had hitherto been on charter to the Norwegian buyer, and previously sailed as Hanseatic Scout.
Long-term relationships with Norwegian and European industrial customers underpin Wilson’s fleet activity, amounting to about 15 million tonnes of cargo annually. Key commodities include minerals, steel, ferro-alloys, grain, coal, fertilisers and stone, plus general cargo and project shipments.