Hansa Heavy Lift ships sold to Spliethoff Group

Hansa Heavy Lift ships sold to Spliethoff Group

BigLift Happy Star.BigLift’s Happy Star installing jackets for offshore oil rigs. The P-series vessel was purchased by Spliethoff from Hansa Heavy Lift, will be renamed Prinsengracht, and will join the BigLift fleet. The four F-series ships will join Spliethoff’s fleet. Photo credit: BigLift.

Bankrupt Hansa Heavy Lift (HHL) has sold five of its vessels to Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group, after shopping them to fleet operators since last summer. Bremen-based Zeaborn had been in negotiations with Hansa to buy the ships but recently dropped out, according to industry sources.  

A Spliethoff spokesperson confirmed the sale to JOC.com. The portfolio includes the HHL Elbe, to be renamed Hudsongracht, and the HHL Tyne, now called the Humbergracht. Both are 12,750 deadweight ton F-type vessels, each with combined lift capacities of 300 metric tons (331 tons).

The HHL Amur, renamed Heerengracht and the HHL Mississippi, renamed Houtmangracht, are also 12,750 deadweight ton F-types. Each has a combined lift capacity of 360 metric tons. The fifth and largest vessel, the 20,100 deadweight ton HHL New York, a P-class vessel with a lift capacity of 800 metric tons, will become the Prinsengracht. The Prinsengracht will be added to Spliethoff’s super-heavy-lift BigLift fleet, while the other four will be added to Spliethoff’s liner service. All five ships will be reflagged to the Dutch registry, Spliethoff told JOC.com.

While Spliethoff did not disclose the vessels’ prices, VesselsValue’s London office estimated the fair market value of the total on January 16, 2019 (the sale date) to be $39.7 million. The smaller ships were valued between $6.8 million and $6.99 million each, while the largest was valued at $12.4 million.

In a document prepared for JOC.com, VesselsValue noted, “this is the fair market value, assuming the vessels are in good condition with a willing buyer and a willing seller. These vessels, as they were from a bankrupt company, could have been sold for less due to the distressed nature of this sale. However, we do not have final confirmation of these prices.”

Oaktree tried to sell HHL in its entirety

Before selling individual assets, HHL’s owner tried to sell the company. “Its owner, the investment company Oaktree, tried to get rid of Hansa as a company but no one was willing to take it, so it was forced to sell the ships individually,” said Nicolas Brieding, chief research officer for Toepfer Transport, a Hamburg-based shipbroker.

He said multipurpose vessel/heavy-lift vessel (MPV/HL) carrier Zeaborn, now owner of Rickmers-Line and partners in joint venture Zeamarine with Houston/New Orleans-based Intermarine, “was in the final stages of negotiating for the five Hansa vessels but either couldn’t find the right price [or] the overall arrangement—contracts with suppliers, offices, staff” made it unworkable. Brieding said that “in general, the vessels are in good condition but, technically, the design of the P-type ship is not very well liked. It’s too expensive operationally and too big to run in a tramp way.”

According to Toepfer Transport’s latest update to its multipurpose index, typical F-Type, 12,500 deadweight ton MPV vessels were able to command an average 6- to 12-month time charter rate of $7,593 per day in mid-January 2019.  

Another industry executive close to the heavyweight ocean shipping sector who did not wish to be identified said, “No one really wanted those ships. I think the price must have been right but the range, stability, bunker capacity of the smaller MPVs is not good.

“Still,” he said, “I am glad to see the ships are being continued in service. Hansa has some very qualified people. But the heavy-lift ocean space today is crowded and in need of consolidation. Eliminating Hansa Heavy Lift [as a company] is one step in that direction.”

In March 2017, Spliethoff announced an order for six R-class multipurpose vessels to be built at China’s Zhejiang Ouhua Shipbuilding shipyard. The polar-class vessels, equipped with scrubbers and combinable heavy lift cranes, are designed for moving project cargo such as windmill blades into remote areas, according to a press report from the company. The first ship was scheduled for delivery in January 2019, with the remainder arriving in two-month intervals, but vessel deliveries have been delayed.

Contact Chris Barnett at chris@cbarnmedia.com.