United Heavy Lift (UHL) has confirmed an order worth an estimated $90m for two more F900-type multipurpose heavylift vessels to be built in China.

The newbuildings, which have a lifting capacity of up to 900 tonnes each, will be delivered from the CSSC shipyard in Hudong in 2023 and 2024.

They will add to 17 of the eco-lifters already delivered to the German company since 2019.

UHL is phasing out older, less efficient tonnage, said managing director Andreas Rolner.

These include the 19,100-dwt UHL Passion (built 2010), the last of a series of 800 P-type designs in its fleet.

“We are phasing out all UHL 800 P-type vessels and replacing them with fuel-efficient modern tonnage,” Rolner added.

“Our vision is to become a sustainability leader in the heavylift industry.”

The F900 vessels, to be built to IMO Tier III requirements, are part of UHL’s goal to operate with the most modern, fuel-efficient and homogeneous heavylift fleet in the market, the company said.

With minimised CO2 emissions, the vessel class exceeds the latest Energy Efficiency Design Index benchmarks.

The carbon footprint of the F900 class is 30% to 50% less than that of the existing heavylift fleet in the market, according to the Hamburg-based company.

Charter rates drop

Only a handful of MPP and heavylift vessels have been ordered this year, including by Briese Schiffahrt.

The Leer-based company purchased two F500-type MPP and heavylift units at Taizhou Sanfu Ship Engineering in March, according to brokers.

Those vessels, which are sisters to the 12,500-dwt BBC Ukraine (built 2021), are reportedly costing close to $30m each, with delivery slated for 2023 and 2024.

Charter rates for MPP vessels are losing steam after an astronomical run since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rates for standard 12,500-dwt MPP units have trebled in the past 12 months.

But six to 12-month time charters for the standard F-type are falling for the first time in 22 months.

Charter rates for F-type vessels dropped $187 to $22,577 per day, according to the May assessment of the Toepfer Multipurpose Index.