November 17 - HUGO STINNES SCHIFFAHRT is upgrading its monthly multipurpose service from North Europe to the Caribbean and the US Gulf.

From mid-December 2009, the tonnage currently utilised will be replaced by 12,000 dwt vessels with heavy lift capacity of 120 - 150 tonnes per crane (combinable up to 300 tonnes).

The first regular liner sailing in the enhanced SANMEX service will be made by Stinnes Passat (ex-Obsession), a multipurpose tweendecker, built in 2001 which has three hatches and two 150-tonne cranes.

The ship will sail from Antwerp on 16th December with a port rotation of Bilbao, Río Haina, Puerto Limon, Veracruz and Altamira (Tampico), returning to Antwerp via Río Haina. Apart from these fixed main ports, the service is flexible and may serve other ports in North Europe, the Caribbean and US Gulf on inducement. 

A fixed call in Houston (after the Mexican port calls) will be added to the liner schedule from early 2010.

A second vessel with similar characteristics will be phased-in during March 2010 and, the line says that if the market recovers further, a third vessel will be added, thus increasing the sailings to every three weeks.