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Crowley Buys Big In Florida

Product tanker Ohio
Crowley newbuild Ohio

By MarEx 2015-11-03 18:57:23

Crowley Maritime continues its expansion into East Coast and Carribean markets with two big moves to grow its diversified fleet. 

On November 2, Crowley Maritime announced the acquisition of Seafreight Agencies of Doral, Florida. SeaFreight is a container and lo/lo ship operator serving the Carribean.

Separately, Crowley announced the christening of the first of four newbuild 50,000 dwt product tankers the morning of November 3.

The purchase of SeaFreight will significantly expand Crowley's international services portfolio. Seafreight Agencies operates a fleet of 13 foreign-flagged vessels with capacities from 330 to 1200 TEU and an average age of 14 years. The vessels serve ports in Jamaica, Aruba, Curacao, Trinidad, and Suriname with weekly sailings from Port Everglades, Florida.

SeaFreight President Roland Malins-Smith said, “Many of us recognize that our industry is undergoing fundamental change which emphasizes the importance of scale and the wisdom of consolidation. … We believe that this move is in the best interest of our customers and our employees.”

This move recognizes a growing trend among container shipping companies worldwide, from relatively small feeder operations like SeaFreight up to the largest international carriers. Soren Skou, CEO of Maersk Line, recently told the Wall Street Journal that his company – already the world's largest operator of container ships with an existing 15 percent share of the market – wants to see additional mergers and acquisitions. Maersk is “getting the expected benefits from vessel-sharing agreements, but more can come from consolidation . . . Maersk Line spends half a billion dollars in [information technology] every year. It is big money. In consolidation, the cost would be shared. It is the same with operating individual headquarters and the cost of containers.” 

Consolidation in container operations is not the only recent source of growth for the diversified Crowley fleet. On November 3 the company christened the first of four newbuild product tankers intended for use in U.S. coastwise trade. The American-flagged, 50,000 dwt vessels are classed by the ABS for eventual conversion to LNG propulsion, a class notation that will allow Crowley additional flexibility in future years.

The first of this new class, the Ohio, was built by Aker Shipbuilding to a design based on proven technology from Hyundai Mipo Dockyards. The vessel has already completed two voyages carrying petroleum products to Florida.