Taiwan’s U-Ming Marine Transport has placed an order with CSSC-affiliated Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) to build ten capesize vessels.

The order includes a firm order for four 186,300 dwt bulkers, for $49.8m each, as well as an option for up to six further capesize bulkers at the same price.

The capesize vessels will be built for U-Ming Marine Transport (Singapore), with deliveries of the first four ships scheduled from 2014 with the optional ships to be delivered in 2015 if they are exercised.

U-Ming said the vessels will be equipped with fuel efficient and low carbon-emission main engines, together with modern hull design and sophisticated equipment to meet worldwide port requirements and market needs.

The company said the vessels will help U-Ming replace the ageing ships from its fleet and help develop new business. U-Ming had earlier drawn up a plan to invest $500m on new ships. This new order has comes at a time of sliding costs for new dry-bulk vessels and major shipbuilders in Asia are offering discounts.

U-Ming Marine president CK Ong said in September 2011 the company expected 2012 to be a ‘difficult year’ for the dry-bulk market because of the launch of more large ships and higher iron-ore production in China.

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“However, the imbalance between supply and demand in shipping capacity had recently improved slightly, as the pace at which ageing ships are retired had accelerated, while the addition of new ships had slowed, ” Ong said.

“The acceleration in demolition and the slowdown in newbuildings will ease the present over-supply situation in the bulk shipping market.”

U-Ming’s business mainly focuses on shipping bulk raw materials, such as iron ore, coal, grains and cement, but it specializes in the trading of vessels and providing agency services. The company said it owns and operates a total of thirty-eight vessels with a total capacity of 4.35 million dwt, including nine bulk carriers under construction.