Time charter rates in the multipurpose shipping sector have remained steady over the last month, according to shipbroker Toepfer Transport. 

The average daily time charter rate for a 12,500 dwt/F-type heavy lift vessel stands at USD7,385 for February 2020. In January 2020, the rate was USD7,393.

At the turn of the year, maritime consultancy Drewry painted an optimistic outlook for multipurpose shipping, predicting average vessel time charter rates to rise 6 percent in 2020, on the back of stronger demand across the entire dry cargo sector. 

However, hopes that the market would improve in the short term have waned. The spread of coronavirus has severely hit Asian trade and the multipurpose sector is still adjusting to the impacts of IMO 2020 sulphur regulations. Other perennial problems for the multipurpose fleet – namely the oversupply of tonnage and competition from other sectors – continue to limit any substantial recovery in rates. 

The challenging market conditions are probably best seen in the case of Zeamarine, which initiated a “period of re-establishment” and restructuring in December last year. So far, the German carrier has offloaded large parts of its fleet, including nine F900 Eco Lifter type vessels which joined United Heavy Lift’s (UHL) roster last month. 

The commercial management of a further ten multipurpose vessels has been transferred to HC Chartering – part of the Zeaborn Group

Meanwhile, the company’s Americas liner business has been sold and is now operating under the brand Intermarine, as HLPFI reported here, and its German booking and operating divisions – Zeamarine Bremen, Zeamarine Germany and Zeamarine Chartering – have been placed into the hands of court supervision. 

Other companies within the Zeaborn Group, including Zeaborn Ship Management and Harper Petersen, remain unaffected by the restructuring, said Zeamarine.