Bangladesh’s HR Lines has “paused” its newbuilding plans and turned to the secondhand market for tonnage.

The Karnaphuli Group subsidiary has bought the CSBC-built 1,068-teu Maersk Arun (built 1999) from AP Moller-Maersk and the Imabari-built 1,628-teu SITC Bangkok (built 2003) from SITC International.

Karnaphuli managing director Hamdan Hossain Chowdhury said HR Line has taken delivery of the Maersk Arun and renamed it HR Turag. The SITC Bangkok will be delivered in the next week and named HR Balu.

The price was not disclosed, but VesselsValue shows the market value of the HR Tarug to be $6.21m, while the SITC Bangkok has a value of $8.79m.

The acquisition of the two feeder boxships brings the tally of vessels that Karnaphuli owns to eight with a combined capacity of 11,840 teu.

The company said: “We started our journey 30 months back with two ships, and with our total focus on schedule integrity, we have grown our capacities on a constant and regular basis.

“This is very much in harmony with our aspirations to be the premier feeder operator in the region, proudly flying the Bangladesh flag across the oceans.

“We plan to acquire more ships during the course of this year, and this will facilitate further enhancement and upgradation of our feeder services connecting Chattogram with major transshipment hubs of Colombo, Singapore and Port Klang. Our immediate focus is to deploy over 50% of the total trade tonnage between Chattogram and each of the hubs.”

Last year, HR Lines was reported to have ordered four 2,900-teu ships worth about $152m at Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding for delivery at the end of 2023 and into 2024. But shipbuilding sources said the deal did not materialise.

Chowdhury confirmed that the order did not take place.

“We have not abandoned but rather paused the newbuilds,” he said. “This is primarily down to two reasons …

“Our main port, Chattogram, is having large infrastructure upgrades that will hopefully come online around 2026. The new terminals will allow for vessels to almost double in capacity to berth. Thus, it would not be a wise commercial decision to follow through with the newbuilds based on current port infrastructure.

“With the advent of green, alternative fuels, we are still awaiting to see which fuel systems will make the most sense regulation-wise, commercial-wise and practicality-wise.”

HR Lines is the only liner company in Bangladesh. It started in 2020 with two boxships — the 1,550-teu HR Sahare (ex-Kota Wajar) and HR Sarera (ex-Kota Waris, both built 1997) — acquired from Pacific International Lines.

Karnaphuli was established in 1954 and is one of the most diversified companies in Bangladesh, with interests in ports, shipping, logistics, media, publishing, healthcare, real estate, air cargo and many other sectors.