Costas Dellaportas-led Meadway Shipping & Trading (MST) is returning to Japan for two handysize newbuildings at Namura Shipbuilding.

Managers at the Athens-based company confirm that orders have been placed for the 40,000-dwt pair.

Dellaportas told TradeWinds that the order was inked about a couple of months ago.

Delivery of the particularly fuel-efficient vessels is scheduled for June 2024, which he described as a “very good slot”.

The design will allow the ships to carry logs, and their 10.3-metre draught should allow for flexible trading.

No options for additional ships are included.

The MST deal seems to mirror a $64m order for two ships placed at the same yard by Taiwan Navigation.

The units are being built to Energy Efficiency Design Index Phase 3 standards, which will be mandatory for ships contracted after 2025.

They are likely to be built at Namura’s Hakodate shipyard, which specialises in small bulk carriers.

As in the case of Taiwan Navigation, MST said the newbuildings are intended to replace older ships and expand the fleet.

MST managers’ decision to move ahead with newbuildings is due to a combination of factors — from the availability of slots at a highly respected shipyard at attractive prices, to the upswing in bulker markets.

Handysize earnings recently exceeded those of larger bulkers, which are more expensive to run.

Faith in the bulker market has underpinned a steady trickle of Greek newbuilding orders in Far Eastern yards.

One such deal coming to the fore now, even though it was placed in the second half of last year, concerns Iolcos Hellenic Maritime.

The Athens company revealed an order on its website for three 82,000-dwt kamsarmaxes at Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry (Yangzhou) with Hull Nos 1077 to 1079.

Iolcos managers confirmed that the company will take delivery of the high-spec ships in the first half of 2023.

These are the first newbuildings that the Andreas Petrakis-led outfit is ordering in 10 years.

The 76,100-dwt Iolcos Fighter (built 2014) belongs to the previous generation of Iolcos Hellenic Maritime bulkers. Photo: Iolcos

Iolcos declined to comment on the price. Μarket developments since they were ordered, however, suggest that the deal has already paid off.

According to recent estimates by Athens’ Xclusiv Shipbrokers, the average newbuilding price of a bulk carrier climbed by almost one-quarter since last year, in the wake of rising costs for commodities, energy and labour.

Nothing in Iolcos’ history so far suggests that it might be considering flipping the ships in a quick asset play.

The company is known to pursue a conservative strategy of long-term commitments with grain traders.

Its three newbuildings at Cosco represent a strategic shift to the 82,000-dwt bulker type popular with its clients.

Iolcos has so far focused on different panamax designs with a capacity of between 75,000 dwt and 87,700 dwt.

All but one of its existing fleet of 16 bulkers were built at Hudong-Zhonghua in China.