Vafias family’s private company has spent more than $325m to acquire gas carriers, bulkers and a tanker
Brave Maritime, the private shipping arm of the Vafias family, has continued its step-by-step increase of gas carrier orders at Hyundai Mipo.
According to ship management sources in Athens, the Greek company this week inked yet another 40,000-cbm LPG ship at the South Korean yard , bringing its orderbook there to five.
Brave Maritime revealed its first newbuilding in February and has steadily ratcheted up its orderbook of fully refrigerated LPG carriers since.
According to the sources, there are two driving factors behind Brave’s LPG newbuilding campaign.
The first is that the company benefits from a juicy differential between the relatively low prices it agreed with Hyundai Mipo in its framework letter of intent (LOI) and the rising prices for such vessels since.
Brave Maritime is understood to be paying slightly more than $47m for each of the five ships it has ordered that are slated for delivery in 2023. The vessels are currently worth more than $50m, according to VesselsValue.
But there are more fundamental reasons. According to the sources, Brave Maritime’s orders reflect the confidence of company founder Nikolaos Vafias in modern gas carriers and in the role they have to play in the transition to carbon-free shipping.
Two of the five newbuilding options Vafias ordered have an option for dual-fuel propulsion.
Brave Maritime, by contrast, has been much more circumspect about investing in ships with a bigger exposure to the carbon economy, such as crude carriers.
The company has bought just a single such ship this year, as TradeWinds reported. The Japanese-controlled, 104,600-dwt aframax Capricorn Voyager (built 2007) joined Brave Maritime’s fleet in late June as Afrapearl. It acquired the ship for about $16.5m.
The company has been much keener to invest in Japanese-built bulkers. TradeWinds has reported about it buying four such handysizes early in the cycle, before a significant appreciation of the value of these ships.
Sources now say that Brave Maritime acquired a fifth handysize as well, the 33,300-dwt Grace Ocean (built 2013). The Shin Kurushima-built vessel is believed to have changed hands in early June for about $15.4m.
Across LPGs, bulkers and the single aframax it bought, Vafias family’s spending bill is estimated to have exceeded the $300m-mark this year.
TradeWinds understands that most of that money, if not all, has been spent out of the family’s own cash reserves.
StealthGas, the family’s US-listed company already operates nearly 50, mostly small, LPG carriers, while stealth maritime operates 20 tankers mainly aframaxes pushing the total fleet to abt 83 ships including nb’s.