Algoma Central adding two more bulkers to Great Lakes fleet

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The following is the text of a news release from Algoma Central Corp.:

(ST. CATHARINES, Ontario) — Algoma Central Corp. has announced that it has contracts in place to build two 740-foot Seaway-max self-unloading bulk freighters to join the company's Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Waterway dry-bulk fleet. These contracts were made effective with the delivery of refund guarantees by the shipyard Nov. 30.

These new Equinox-class ships will be built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. and will feature a standard rear boom. The vessels will have an overall length of 225.55 meters (740 feet) and a beam of 23.77 meters (78 feet), qualifying as Seaway-max size ships. The vessels are designed to carry 29,300 tonnes at maximum Seaway draft.

"Our search for a shipyard in China to replace the now-bankrupt Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries led us to Yangzijiang," said Ken Bloch Soerensen, president and CEO of Algoma. "We have been pleased with the professionalism and enthusiasm the yard has shown for our project and the quality that they have shown on work done for other shipowners."

These new Equinox vessels will have all of the features of the existing Equinox design, including the exhaust gas scrubber technology pioneered by Algoma on the Great Lakes in its first Equinox-class gearless bulk carriers. The vessels are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2018.

This new order brings the total Equinox-class vessels under construction to seven. In total, Algoma expects to invest approximately $450 million in this phase of its fleet renewal program. With the addition of these new ship orders, the company is reviewing its fleet plan and considering the retirement of certain older vessels.

Since 2009, three Equinox-class bulk carriers and two coastal class self-unloaders have been added to the domestic dry-bulk fleet operated by Algoma. Upon completion of these seven new vessel orders in 2018, the average life of the company's dry-bulk fleet will be reduced by 13 years from the 31-year age of the current fleet.

By Professional Mariner Staff