Antwerp-based specialist reefer owner, Seatrade, has ordered four new container ships with high reefer capacity at China’s Huanghai Shipyard for delivery from October 2023.
The 1,800TEU vessels are to be built to an SDARI Sealion 1800 BKK design and will have capacity for about 1,300 20-foot reefer containers. The order is part of a larger newbuilding programme, the company said, which started before the pandemic and involves vessels of similar type and capacity.
Seatrade revealed that the new ships will be deployed in current and newly developed trades and will form an integrated part of its Fast, Direct & Dedicated (FDD) sales concept, which the company has promoted successfully in recent years. Its FDD services are based on niche trades between ports with dedicated infrastructure enabling shorter delivery times and seasonal flexibility in volumes.
Despite the fact that the conventional reefer fleet continues to shrink, losing out to the container sector where vessels often have large numbers of reefer slots, specialised reefer services remain an important component of the food and perishables supply chain. This has become increasingly evident through the pandemic, with container ships delayed for long periods outside ports in many locations, as well as other hold-ups ashore.
Despite container lines’ encroachment on the reefer sector, Seatrade continues to expand its fleet and its specialised service network. Last year, the company teamed up the Jamaica Producers Group in a joint venture to acquire Geest Line, a UK-based company specialising in perishable and breakbulk trade to and from the UK, Netherlands and Caribbean.