Taiwan’s TS Lines has placed a firm order with China's state-owned CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Co for two 2,700-teu, scrubber-fitted boxships.

The deal includes options for two more ships.

The liner operator did not disclose the cost of the ships, but market experts priced the vessels at $30m each.

Forex play

TS Lines said it had planned to order the newbuildings last year, but pushed the deal back to take advantage of fluctuations in the foreign currency markets.

“By ordering the ships this year, the company saved around $3m per vessel,” TS Lines said.

One shipyard executive confirmed shipbuilding prices had eased due to fluctuations in exchange rates between the Chinese yuan and US dollar.

The yuan this month fell to its lowest level of CNY 7.144 against the dollar since August 2010.

A shipbuilding player said TS Lines had approached several yards — including Taiwan's CSBC Corp and China's Yangzijiang Shipbuilding — but Wenchong’s pricing and delivery schedule sealed the deal.

TS Lines is scheduled to take delivery from June 2021. It is planning to deploy the ships in Vietnam.

By ordering the ships this year, the company saved around $3m per vessel

TS Lines

New deliveries

At the end of last month, TS Lines took delivery of the 1,096-teu TS Shanghai (built 2019) from Japan's Kyokuyo Shipyard Corp.

The feeder containership is the first of four newbuildings ordered at the yard last year.

It is scheduled to take delivery of the second ship in December and the remaining two in the first half of next year.

TS Lines also has a pair of 1,800-teu newbuildings under construction at CSBC. The duo is due for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Wenchong is best known for building containerships and is one of several yards under the umbrella of China State Shipbuilding Co (CSSC).

Wenchong backlog

The yard has an order backlog of 64 newbuildings, with feeder containerships making up the majority of orders. It is also constructing six 120,000-dwt bulkers for CSSC Leasing.

Last month, Wenchong made its debut in the gas sector by winning a contract from domestic shipowner Tianjin Southwest Maritime for a 9,500-cbm multipurpose gas carrier.