Rising demand for modern feeder tonnage is fuelling the emergence of a two-tier charter market.

Charterers are paying a premium of $3,000 per day for smaller container ships with low fuel consumption.

That suggests that the International Maritime Organization’s Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) is already affecting the charter market.

German and Chinese owners are cashing in on the rising demand for modern ships.

Vega Reederei has fixed the 1,868-teu Vega Coligny (built 2023) for eight to 12 months at a healthy rate of $17,000 per day, according to brokers.

That marks a premium to the rate for a standard 1,700-teu vessel, which is hovering around $14,000 per day. Charters for older vessels are also generally shorter.

The Vega Colligny is reportedly fixed by Evergreen Marine affiliate Italia Marittima.

It is expected to join its new charterer next month after completing a trip from Asia to the Mediterranean with Kalypso Compagnia di Navigazione, a subsidiary of Rome-based RifLine International.

The Vega Coligny is one of four Bangkokmax sister ships that tonnage provider Vega Reederei ordered in May 2021 at Zhejiang-based Yangfan Group.

The remaining three ships are slated for delivery in the second and third quarters of this year, Vega managing partner Torsten Brugge confirmed.

“We are very happy with ship number one and the yard standard,” he said.

The four vessels were rumoured close to being sold to CMA CGM in early 2022.

However, the French line was said to have pulled out of the deal when projected delivery dates slipped behind schedule.

Chinese U-turn

The shifting sentiment has also seen Chinese furniture manufacturer Loctek charter out its only newbuilding.

The 1,800-teu Lecangs Dolphin (built 2023) was ordered in January 2022, when freight rates peaked, in an unusual move by the company.

The ship is said to have been fixed to CMA CGM for five to seven months at $16,000 per day. It is slated for delivery from Huanghai Shipbuilding in April.

CMA CGM is the most active operator in the feeder size, where it has secured more than 20% of all fixtures of around 1,800 teu, according to shipbroker Braemar. This includes the 1,740-teu Hansa Homburg (built 2009), which the French carrier took for four to six months at $14,000 per day.

Other older vessels have secured decent rates for longer periods.

The 1,740-teu Songa Tiger (built 2008) has been reportedly fixed for 24 months with Swire Navigation at $16,750 per day. The vessel is controlled by private interests of Norwegian investor Arne Blystad’s Songa Box.

In other trades, owners have been prepared to pay an even higher premium.

The Chinese owner of the 1,800-teu newbuilding A Kobe (built 2023) has obtained $25,000 per day for a 12-month fixture. The high rate is due to the vessel trading into Russia, Braemar said.