March 27 - Beluga Shipping will take delivery of a new class of heavy lift cargo ship later this year.

The new vessel, Beluga Persuasion, is part of Beluga's P-series class and is one of 16 ships due to be delivered between 2009 and 2011.

Commenting on the current state of heavy lift shipping, Beluga says that it expects a healthy cargo market through 2011. "For the extremely heavy cargo items over and above 500 tons the rates will remain firm even beyond that," said Niels Stolberg, founder and chief executive officer of Beluga, which has a fleet of 63 multipurpose heavy lift ships.

"We have to be able to load and discharge the heavy goods as safely and as close to the destination as possible, regardless of the existing port infrastructure," Stolberg said. "For this reason, we offer international clients a large number of identical vessels within our fleet that can be deployed flexibly according to the requirements.

"Since our ships have a low draft, we can call nearly any port in the world, which is indispensable in tramp shipping."

The P-series ships have crane capacities up to 1,400 tonnes and offer adjustable tweendecks and large cargo hatches to transport cargoes up to 90 metres long.