Peter Dohle has broken a near decade-long order drought by signing up for a series of neo-panamax newbuildings in China.

The German shipowner has contracted state-owned Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding to build four conventionally fuelled 14,000-teu container ships.

The last time Dohle ordered new vessels was in 2015, according to VesselsValue.

Hudong-Zhonghua announced the deal and said the methanol-ready 336-metre-long vessels are of an in-house design and include scrubbers. They are slated for delivery between 2026 and 2027.

Hudong-Zhonghua did not disclose the price, but shipbuilding brokers said they would cost between $140m and $150m each.

Dohle’s 2015 order was with Singapore-listed Yangzijiang to build two 3,830-teu boxships — the Polar Chile and Polar Peru (both built 2018).

Brokers said Dohle has a strong relationship with Yangzijiang but went to Hudong-Zhonghua for its latest newbuildings as the former did not have the slots it sought.

One shipping source believes Dohle has earmarked the new quartet for Emirates Shipping Line (ESL), in which the shipowner has a stake.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, ESL ranks 22nd globally for boxship capacity, according to Alphaliner.

It controls a fleet of 21 chartered vessels. ESL’s largest boxship operating is the 6,765-teu ESL Wafa (built 2006), which is owned by Dohle.

VesselsValue shows that Dohle has been active in the sale-and-purchase market, acquiring 22 secondhand vessels since 2019.

Its latest transaction was in April for the Samsung-built 5,783-teu CMA CGM Bellini (built 2004) for $18.7m. CMA CGM sold the ship to make room for its next generation of newbuildings.

VesselsValue shows Dohle is also due to take delivery of the 176,400-dwt Zhong May (built 2011).

The Shanghai Waigaoqiao-built bulk carrier was one of the capesizes it acquired from Foremost Maritime in February. The other was a sister ship, the Yue May (renamed Almera, built 2011).

In March, Dohle bought three container vessels, the 9,954-teu Athos, Aristomenis and Athenian (all built 2011), from Capital Product Partners for $51m each.

The deal included charters to Hapag-Lloyd for three years at $27,000 per day, with options for two more years at about $32,000 per day.

VesselsValue shows Dohle has a fleet of 61 vessels — 47 boxships and 14 bulkers.

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