Ceylon Shipping Corporation Ltd (CSC) reaches a new milestone in the history by expanding its fleet by two bulk vessels with a dead weight of 63,000 metric tons of each. The shipbuilding contract was entered with AVIC International Beijing Company Limited in China in 2014.
Both vessels are fully equipped with modern technology and more fuel efficient than average vessel of this size traversing the world’s ocean today. The vessels have been designed to load bulk commodities like coal, cement, wheat, grain, fertilizer and iron ore, etc.
These two ships have been designed to cater the need of coal transportation as well as to provide training for national trainee-Cadets with berths on one whole deck that could accommodate up to 26 cadets at any given time.The main objective of building these two vessels is to facilitate coal operation in Puttalam for Lakvijaya thermal power station and Sampur, Trincomalee once the second thermal power station starts its operations.
During the last 44 years of the history of CSC, it has functioned as ship owners, operators, charterers and ship managers in carriage of both bulk and containerized cargo all over the world challenging and competing with major shipping lines with trade restrictions and economic impacts concerning the national interest of the country.
In view of the growing needs of the country and volatile business environment in containerization affected CSC to transform into a profitable market environment in the bulk sector. The construction of two bulk vessels is the initial step of expanding its bulk fleet and those two would not even be sufficient to fulfil a quarter of the annual requirement of coal to the country. Therefore, CSC has an opportunity to facilitate the coal supply through strategic partnerships with ship owners by adding more bulk vessels to meet the national coal requirement.
The first vessel ‘Ceylon Breeze’ had its steel cutting ceremony in September 2014 and keel laying in December 2014. The launching ceremony equates to the birth of a child where a vessel that has been constructed is nearly complete, is safe to float in the water and refers to the actual process of floating the vessel in the water. The first vessel launching ceremony was in August 2015 in the presence of CSC officials.
The delivery of the first vessel was taken on January 20, 2016. She is 199.826 meters long, 32.249 meters wide and has the carrying capacity of 63,329 metric tons. This is so far the largest vessel ever to be owned by Sri Lanka.
The ceremonial acceptance of Ceylon Breeze by her motherland was held on March 15, 2016 at the Port of Colombo on her way to Puttalam in the presence of higher officials of the organisation and dignitaries of the other ministries. It was on her maiden voyage with a load of 55,000 metric tons of coal from Voshtochny, Russia to Norochchoale thermal power plant. During this ceremony, 12 Sri Lankan Cadets passed out from the University of Moratuwa and TTI Katunayaka joined the ship Ceylon Breeze for the first time.
CSC, especially being concerned on recruiting qualified, well trained and experienced crew to its new bulk ships has enrolled 22 crew members to the first vessel. Interestingly, the majority of these have been ex-CSC crew and have passed out as Cadet Officers on CSC own vessels. Whilst the first vessel is already engaged in coal transportation and just completed her second voyage after discharging a coal shipment of 61,520 metric tons carried from RBCT, South Africa, the second vessel is under construction in the same shipyard in China.
The steel cutting of the second vessel Ceylon Princess was in October 2014, keel laying was in July 2015 and the launching of the second bulk vessel was in April 2016. The delivery would be at the end of July/August 2016.
The two new bulk vessels will be deployed for coal transportation until South West monsoon starts in May and will be employed in more profitable areas till the end of monsoon period in August in each year.
According to CSC, its biggest challenge apart from the low trend in freight market is to meet the loan repayments starting from August 2016 to People’s Bank at a very high rate of interest. This of course has made further challenging due to the purchase price of ships which is believed to be US $ 8.0 million to US $ 7.5 million more than the market price of a ‘Panamax ‘ size bulk ship (US $ 16.0 million to US $ 15.0 million extra for both). Those could have been two controllable factors at that time of entering into contacts in 2014, whereas the global freight market remaining to be an unpredictable and uncontrollable factor.