New York-listed Genco Shipping & Trading is the latest dry bulk owner to seek a way to monetise exposure to a containership market that is even hotter than its own trade.

Genco is seeking class approval on its entire fleet of capesizes, ultramaxes and supramaxes to carry boxes both on deck and in cargo holds, chief executive John Wobensmith told TradeWinds in a recent interview.

Still, the Genco chief emphasised that the business was likely to be selective and opportunistic as it joins the list of dry owners to explore the option.

"We're not becoming a containership company, and we're not converting dry bulk ships into containerships," Wobensmith said.

"It's not something you'll see us doing everyday. If we have a ship we want to get back into the Atlantic, say on a backhaul cargo from China, it might make sense and we'll explore it."

Genco owns a fleet of 17 capesize, 13 ultramax and 13 supramax vessels with an aggregate capacity of approximately 4.57m dwt and an average age of 10.2 years.

Wobensmith estimates that Genco can carry about 700 teu aboard each ultramax and 1,300 teu on a capesize.

"It's about coming up with a stowage plan for loaded and unloaded containers, how much weight can be put into the holds, adding lashing gear that will be needed an so on," Wobensmith said.

Approval for hybrid cargoes

The addition of box cargoes would augment rates strength that is already the best in more than a decade, especially for capesize tonnage.

Genco is fairly far along in the class process.

"We're probably a few weeks away from getting approval," Wobensmith said.

The willingness of dry bulk owners to consider hybrid cargoes has been an emerging trend amid raging boxship rates and a shortage of containerships to meet global demand.

Taiwan’s Franbo Lines said five of its 18 bulkers could take containers on deck and advantage of record rates.

Lin Cheng-he, the company's vice general manager, told domestic media that the company could earn more carrying boxes from Asia to Europe and the US.

"We have five geared ships of around 17,000 dwt that can each carry around 212 teu on deck, so no modifications are required," he was quoted as saying.

Asian analysts have also noted that Swire Bulk has been carrying a small number of containers on its ships.

John Fredriksen-controlled Golden Ocean Group has also told TradeWinds that it is actively looking at how its bulkers could be used to carry containers.