Greece-based Star Bulk Carriers has chartered the first of two Ultramax bulk carriers from Imabari Shipbuilding.

M/V Star Challenger was built in Japan in November 2012 and has a carrying capacity of 61,462 deadweight tonnes.

The vessel was chartered for a duration of 40 days at a gross hire rate of $13,700 per day. The short charter period is part of the company’s commercial strategy that allows it to benefit from a higher freight rate recovery in the dry bulk market.

The second Ultramax bulk carrier, Star Fighter, is expected to be delivered by the end of December 2013.

The company is using available cash and a commercial bank debt to finance both purchases.

Star Bulk Carriers currently operates 15 dry bulk carriers, including five Capesize, two Ultramax and eight Supramax vessels, with a combined cargo carrying capacity of 1,413,526 deadweight tonnes.

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It also has nine third-party dry bulk vessels with a combined cargo carrying capacity of 1,030,720 deadweight tonnes.

The company has signed deals for the construction of nine new fuel-efficient dry bulk vessels, including three Newcastlemax, two Capesize and four Ultramax vessels, having a combined cargo carrying capacity of 1,227,000 deadweight tonnes.

All the new vessels are scheduled to be delivered in 2015 and 2016.