John Fredriksen-backed shipowning company SFL Corp has agreed a $60m upgrade of six 14,000-teu container ships with German liner operator Hapag-Lloyd.

The first of the vessels, the 14,372-teu Thalassa Partis (built 2013), will begin a charter to the German line later this month, renamed Savannah Express.

It is one of six vessels that SFL has fixed with Hapag-Lloyd for five years following the expiration of their existing charters with Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine.

SFL owns a fleet of 36 container ships, including six vessels comprising the Thalassa series of Hyundai-built neo-panamaxes.

Two of the vessels — the 13,806-teu Thalassa Patris and Thalassa Hellas (both built 2013) — were acquired in August 2021.

Another four were acquired in a deal with the Lemos family-controlled Enesel in 2018. The charters for the ships were agreed early in 2022.

SFL’s investment on the vessels is limited to project management and certain upgrade costs estimated at approximately $3m in total.

Separately, the New York-listed sale-and-leaseback specialist revealed a fresh charter deal with AP Moller-Maersk.

The Danish liner giant has agreed an extension option for the 9,500-teu Maersk Sarat (built 2015) until mid-2025.

The charter will add approximately $13m to SFL’s charter backlog.

The option rate is higher than the existing charter rate and includes a profit-share arrangement relating to scrubber benefits, SFL said.

Profit up

Oslo-based company SFL reported a net profit of $29.3m for the third quarter of the year, compared with $16.9m in the previous quarter.

Operating revenues were $204.9m for the three months to the end of September, compared with $164.6m in the previous quarter.

“Our harsh environment semi-submersible rig Hercules is back in operation, and the next three car carrier newbuilds will be delivered over the next few quarters,” said Ole Hjertaker, chief executive of SFL Management.

“This, combined with strong contract renewals for existing vessels, is expected to increase our charter revenues and further support a long-term distribution capacity.”

The estimated fixed-rate charter backlog from the company’s fleet of 73 wholly or partly-owned vessels and newbuildings under construction was approximately $3.4bn.

SFL will pay its 79th consecutive dividend with a quarterly cash payment of $0.25 per share.