Cosco Shipping Specialized Carriers has taken over, not for the first time, from BBC Chartering as the world's largest multipurpose operator by deadweight, according to Dynamar's latest report.
Cosco's newbuilding programme, launched in 2013, saw the Chinese carrier overtake BBC Chartering after the delivery of six of the vessels last year. The last vessel, due for delivery in the first half of 2018, will be among the largest multipurpose vessels in the world, featuring a deadweight tonnage of 38,000.
Having reduced its fleet by 13 to 146 ships, BBC Chartering returned to second place in the ranking.
Spliethoff rises to the third spot in the current ranking through the addition of five 13,000 dwt vessels on time charter, while Thorco has seen the largest fleet reduction, with the number of ships falling by 23 units to 48 vessels, relegating the Danish company to fourth place.
As of early January 2018, the ten largest operators - by deadweight - of multipurpose/project/heavy-lift tonnage combined deployed a fleet of 460 ships with a total deadweight of 8,136,000 million tons and an aggregate lifting capability of 147,000 tons.
"It is clear that the state of the market (as was) has caused various operators to reduce their operated tonnage," said Dynamar. "Nonetheless, overall capacity has remained exactly the same in terms of ships (460 units both years)."
In the ranking of the top ten, Zeaborn and PACC Line replaced Rickmers-Linie and Swire Shipping.
"The effects of the 2016 and 2017 consolidation wave, together with a very low order book for multipurpose/project/heavy-lift tonnage, and the expected economic recovery should see breakbulk operators writing dark grey ink again by the end of 2018," said Dynamar.
(It is) "such a pity that car carriers have developed into such formidable breakbulk operators. And that container carriers continue having sufficient space for project cargoes on their too big ships. Or else the results of the multipurpose operators, who can't be beaten for flexibility, might have become deep dark black."