Two leading multipurpose groups are teaming up to expand their Europe to West Africa operations.

Universal Africa Lines (UAL) of the Netherlands and German partner Bremen Overseas Chartering & Shipping (BOCS) have pooled 19 ships in the joint venture company UAL BOCS Shipping Line.

The operation will be based in Capelle ad Ijssel in the Netherlands, drawing on UAL’s existing UAL Mediterranean Service, but adding additional expertise and tonnage from the BOCS group.

The geared fleet is described as modern and ranges from 8,000 dwt to 33,000 dwt.

The vessels have a lifting capacity of up to 360 tonnes.

Operations will focus on the Mediterranean and Black Sea down to West Africa.

“This was a logical step for UAL in the strengthening of our excellent relationship with BOCS. We are already successfully working together with them for years from north-west Europe ... to West Africa,” said UAL director Harald Maas.

He said cooperation will bring advantages for both owners and their clients.

Maas explained that in current hot markets, it has become extremely difficult to find vessel space.

“By sharing our tonnage, we still manage to fulfil the needs of our clients in this tight market. The synergies are obvious, and with this new exiting joint venture we will extend these further for our Mediterranean and Black Sea clients as well,” he said.

Relationship ‘intensified’

BOCS managing director Bjorn Hollnagel said his company is pleased to intensify its well-established collaboration with UAL.

“Again, our clientele will benefit from more flexibility, in particular an extended port coverage and an increased number of sailings,” he added.

“Furthermore, this step is another attempt to satisfy the needs of our customers, especially our long-term partners in West Africa.”

UAL Chartering in Copenhagen will act as commercial agent for the joint venture.

In 2020, UAL set up this Danish chartering desk to reinforce its position as a breakbulk carrier to Africa for the oil and gas industry.