Norway’s Green Reefers this month joined the recently established Hamburg Reefer Pool, adding its fleet of 27 specialized reefer ships with capacities ranging from 263,000 cubic feet to 310,000 cubic feet to the 80-ship pool.
The move accelerates the industrywide consolidation of conventional refrigerated ship operators in the face of declining rates and increasing competition from ocean container carriers.
The Hamburg pool was established May 1 by Antwerp-based Seatrade, the world’s biggest reefer operator, and Alpha Reefer Transport, an operator of 46 ships owned by several companies, including Greece’s Laskaridis, Riga Transport of Latvia and Lithuania’s Klaipeda Transport.
Green Reefers will acquire one-third stakes in Hamburg Reefer Pool and in its commercial manager Hamburg Reefer Chartering.
Spot freight rates for refrigerated cargoes have slumped to 10-year lows on reduced demand in key import markets in Europe, the Mediterranean and Russia for fruit; poor fish harvests in the South Atlantic; and the strength of the dollar.
Reefer operators also blame predatory pricing by ocean container carriers for pushing down spot freight rates.
Norwegian operator Star Reefers said in late July it laid up seven of its 46 owned and chartered ships after reporting first half profit fell by more than half, to $7.6 million from $19.9 million a year earlier.