A steady stream of tanker deals continue to be concluded and negotiated in the secondhand market amid recovering earnings for such ships.

“One could describe the prevailing motto as, buy them at any size — and in some cases even at any price,” commented Eva Tzima, head analyst at Seaborne Shipbrokers in Athens.

In the latest deal reported by ship-management sources, Greece’s Brave Maritime is said to be spending $33m on the 146,500-dwt suezmax Ridgebury Lindy B (built 2007).

VesselsValue, Signal Ocean and MSI Horizon currently estimate the value of the Japanese-built ship at lower levels.

The vessel’s elevated price tag, however, probably reflects that it is fitted with a scrubber and a ballast water treatment system.

The Ridgebury Lindy B is also ice-classed, an increasingly attractive feature for buyers.

“There is increased interest in ice-class tonnage,” brokers at WeberSeas said in a note to clients.

According to analysts at the Athens-based brokerage, around 60 such vessels have changed hands so far in 2022 — a 50% higher deal volume than in the full year of 2021.

Managers at Brave Maritime and Ridgebury Tankers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A purchase by Brave, however, would be in line with a wide-ranging fleet expansion strategy by the Vafias Group, of which Brave is a private arm.

According to TradeWinds calculations, Vafias family-led companies have acquired 19 ships since early 2021 for an estimated outlay approaching the $550m mark.

Eva Tzima, head of research and valuations at Seaborne Shipbrokers in Athens. Photo: Contributed

In the first phase of that expansion, the clan was ordering LPG carrier newbuildings and bought secondhand bulkers. This year, however, its clear focus has been on tankers, with Vafias Group companies buying four suezmaxes, one aframax and three MRs.

Move quickly or you’re out

The market moves at a very fast pace, according to observers.

“Bidders … holding back even for one day lose candidates to more aggressive buyers,” Tzima said.

Greeks are on the selling side in most of the deals reported, as they benefit from rising prices to carry out asset plays or to offload some of their oldest ships.

Just a month after selling two VLCCs for demolition, clients of low-profile Greek tanker manager Marbella Seaways are now believed to be selling the slightly younger, 310,000-dwt VLCC Kioni (built 2004) for between $29.5m and $30m.

Moving on to aframaxes, several brokers in Athens, London and the US relate that Samos Steamship has agreed to part with its oldest ship, the 105,400-dwt Oracle (built 2008), for about $28.7m.

The same brokers also report that Athens-based Coral Shipping clinched about the same price for the 105,400-dwt Prosperous (built 2009), a one-year younger sistership of the Oracle.

Ship-management sources, however, say that a deal to sell the Oracle has yet to be finalised and may be concluded at a higher price.

The Prosperous would not be the only ship sold by Coral this summer. The John Kilakos-led company divested a smaller ship, the 47,300-dwt MR Explorer II (built 2005), in late June.

The Explorer II changed hands for about $12.1m and has joined the fleet of Greek peer Econav. Trading currently as Cosmograph, it has become the biggest tanker so far to be managed by the company.