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29 November 2013
Deltamarin bulker concept marketed by broker Barry Rogliano Salles proves a winner - Tradewinds Newspaper 29/11/2013

It is not often that a ship-design company is compared with Michelangelo, the Italian renaissance artist. But that is how French newbuilding broker Francois Cadiou chooses to describe Finnish design specialist Deltamarin and what it has achieved in sculpting the “B.Delta” eco-ships starting to feed into the fleets of various high-profile shipowners. The “B” in B.Delta stands for Paris-based Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS), which has collaborated with Deltamarin for several years in getting the project off the ground and flying. France, of course, takes much of the credit for probably the most iconic high-flyer of all time, Concorde, which was beautiful, but a commercial failure. Only 20 were built.
But already orders have been placed for around 80 B.Delta handysize and ultramax bulkers of 28,000 dwt (B.Delta 25), 39,000 to 43,000 dwt (B.Delta 37 and 43) and 63,700 dwt (B.Delta 64).

The signatures involved are household names in shipping. Among them are Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (Dreyfus), China Navigation Co (Swire Group), Oldendorff Carriers and d’Amico Societa di Navigazione Strategic Holdings, Seaboard, Polsteam Shipping, HBC Hamburg Bulk Carriers and Transbulk. And the Chinese yards building them are familiar names, including Tianjin Xingang (CSIC Group), Chengxi (CSSC Group), Yangfan Group, GWS Wenchong (CSSC), Jinling and Qingshan (Sinotrans CSC Group) and Ouhua Shipyard.

As well as the four bulker designs that have already garnered contracts, also on offer is a 82,000-dwt kamsarmax design and a recent newcastlemax design of 210,000 dwt. But shipowners can be an astute bunch. They would not have committed so heavily to the design without doing their homework.

BRS partner and newbuilding specialist Cadiou and colleague Manuel Flaix admit that the brokerage, the marketing force behind the ships, and the designer have battled market scepticism over whether the B.Deltas can deliver the fuel efficiencies claimed once they hit the water. “Come on guys, this is not possible,” echoed loud when the brokerage pitched for orders. Neither was it alone in promoting eco-ships, albeit very much in the vanguard. The competition from design houses became increasingly intense as bunker prices rocketed from around $200 per ton to around $700 per ton in 2012.

The B.Deltas were borne out of informal discussions in 2005/2006 when the idea was floated that Deltamarin, a company associated mainly with specialist ships such as the Dreyfus/Leif Hoegh-owned ro-ros for transporting Airbus fuselage and wings, should focus on designing a conventional but fuel-frugal ship.

The move was also driven by the fact that unlike Japanese or South Korean yards, builders in China lacked design departments, relying heavily on third-party providers. Deltamarin already had plenty of experience in China that could be traced back to Jinling Shipyard, Nanjing, in 1997, the same facility that subsequently built the customised Dreyfus/Hoegh ro-ros leased to Airbus— the Ville de Bordeaux, City of Hamburg and Cuidad de Cadiz.

BRS’s relationship with Deltamarin, a company created in the 1980s, and well known to former BRS chairman and shipbroker Jean-Francois Cristau, who shared a deep knowledge of passengerships for which the Finnish designer is well known. The brokerage, with its knowledge of the market, was tasked with choosing between bulkers, tankers or containerships for the B.Delta concept vessel. Bulkers offered both greater volume in terms of the world fleet, as well as China being able to build them more competitively than other types. The decision favoured initially handysize over ultramax.

Back in the mid-2000s, the best design of handysize bulkers were said to come from Japan, but, says BRS, the aim was to take the best and make it even better, maintaining the same dimensions of length, beam and draught while adding 10% more deadweight, 10% more carrying capacity, but 10% less fuel consumption.

It took Deltamarin between six and nine months to pull something off the drawing board. The extra payload was easily achieved, says BRS, but the “fuel consumption was beyond expectation”.

It says the benchmark to beat was a typical Japanese 37,000-dwt design returning a service speed of 14 knots on 22 tons of fuel per day.Deltamarin’s design achieved 14 knots on 18 tons of fuel — a 25% saving, says the broker. But the timing of making the design available, August 2008, could not have been worse. “A couple of weeks later we had the Lehman Brothers crisis and the market went completely crazy,” said Cadiou.

“People had priorities other than buying ships.” Prices fell 50% between 2008 and 2012 and those who were interested wanted to see proof with a B.Delta in the water. Nevertheless, as early as the end of 2008, Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) and Canadian compatriot Algoma were interested, but to build self-unloaders and lakers, respectively. By mid-2009, both placed design contracts with Deltamarin.

The first yard deal was for three CSL panamax self-unloaders in June 2010 at CSSC Chengxi, followed in September 2010 by an initial contract for seven Algoma lakers at Mingde (now eight are under construction). The signatures gave credence to the project, says BRS, and in January 2011 talks with Dreyfus resulted in building the first handysize B.Delta 37 bulkers — a contract for two firm vessels plus two options at CSIC’s Tianjin Xingang.

Since then, firm B.Delta 37 bulker orders have multiplied, involving different owners and so far more than 60 B.Delta 37s, the “blockbusters” of the B.Delta series, have been contracted using three main versions (conventional lower hoppers, box,open hatches), some of them being log-fitted.
MT Maritime Management (MTM Group) went for B.Delta37s at Tianjin Xingang and after exercising options now has six on order, while China Navigation Co (CNCo) announced last week that it had doubled the number of B.Delta37s booked at Ouhua to eight, with delivery of the last four due to start in 2016. Including 16 newbuildings at Chengxi, CNCo says it has now placed contracts for 24 B.Deltas37s.

Last month, CNCo took delivery of the Wuchang, the first of its 39,000-dwt, Deltamarin-designed newbuildings. Classification society Lloyd’s Register says B.Delta37s have attracted “significant attention” in the industry due to being best in class performance-wise in the handysize sector in various categories, including “low fuel consumption, low emissions, Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), deadweight intake and lightweight particulars”.

By Geoff Garfield
Tradewinds Newspaper
29 November 2013

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