Ridgebury Tankers has capitalised on a resurgent product tanker market to sell three 2009-built MRs to unidentified Middle Eastern buyers at a firm $22m each, market sources tell TradeWinds.

The Connecticut owner avoided the need to send the trio into dry dock in December, including installation of ballast water treatment systems that alone would cost about $1m for each tanker, according to a market source who was able to confirm the sales.

“But it also involves removing them from trading for about 30 days, which is tough in the middle of a peak market,” the source said.

Paring the fleet

The sales come two months after Ridgebury sold out of the VLCC sector by dealing the 307,300-dwt Chinese-built Neptun and Nucleus (both built 2007) for between $30.8m and $31.5m each.

UK shipbroker Clarksons linked South Korea’s Sinokor Merchant Marine to the VLCC deal.

In the current sale, the three MRs are the SPP-built, 50,000-dwt Ridgebury Rosemary E, Ridgebury Alexandra Z and Ridgebury Cindy A.

They are assigned a worth of about $20m each by VesselsValue.

Ridgebury bought the trio, plus a sister that was later sold on, from Yasa Shipping of Turkey in 2013 for a reported $29m each. All carried charters into the first half of 2014.

The transaction dramatically expanded Ridgebury’s fledgling fleet, which had included just two MRs and one suezmax previously. It also took Yasa out of the clean product sector.

Chief executive Robert Burke could not be reached for comment ahead of TradeWinds’ deadline.

Ridgebury is backed by private equity’s Riverstone Holdings and led by Burke, who is the former head of GE Capital’s ship finance division. It is based in Westport, Connecticut.

One broker report listed the Ridgebury ships as going to Turkish buyers, but the market source indicated this is not correct.

Ridgebury is left with 10 suezmaxes and 10 handysize tankers following this week’s sales.

Two other VLCCs, the 307,300-dwt Nautilus (built 2006) and Navarin (built 2007), were sold in March for $63.5m en bloc.