A large container ship that was trapped in Ukraine for 18 months has reportedly been sold barely a month after its release.

The 9,403-teu Joseph Schulte (built 2013) is said to have been bought by Swiss liner giant MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company in a bidding process initiated by the insurance company, according to two broking sources.

However, the reports are played down by a spokesperson for the owner, Hamburg-based Schulte Group, who said the information is not correct and the ship remains unsold.

Brokers reported that MSC is believed to be paying about $55m for the vessel, which was released on or around 16 August.

The Joseph Schulte was at the port of Odesa when Russia invaded Ukraine.

It was caught up in the conflict at the peak of the container ship boom, making it the highest value vessel trapped in Ukrainian ports. At one time, it was valued at more than $150m.

Other liner operators including France’s CMA CGM are also reported to have been looking to buy the ship.

But MSC appears to have been keener, having originally chartered it for seven years and operated it as MSC Algeciras.

The vessel was subsequently fixed to Cosco Shipping Lines in 2020, for a period of 36 months, but Alphaliner says this employment was terminated after the ship was trapped in Ukraine.

MSC already operates 14 units of the Jiangnan 9000 type in its fleet, the analyst said.

Alphaliner lists MSC as having bought 324 secondhand boxships since it embarked on an unprecedented purchase campaign in August 2020.