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Self-unloader merry-go-round

Having recently commissioned many new vessels, self-unloader fleet owners have been ringing the changes during 2019

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Algoma will take delivery of the sister ship to Algoma Innovator in September 2020
Algoma will take delivery of the sister ship to Algoma Innovator in September 2020

In September 2019, Algoma Central Corporation announced that it had reached an agreement with Croatian shipyard 3Maj Brodogradiliste to acquire a new Equinox Class 650ft selfunloading dry bulk carrier.

The vessel, the second of two such ships that were to be built by 3Maj for the company, is partially built and moored at the 3Maj shipyard in Rijeka. Work on the vessel was halted in 2017 when the shipyard entered an extended period of financial difficulties. Algoma took delivery of the alGOMa innOVaTOr, a sister ship and the first built under the twovessel contract, early in the 2018 Great Lakes navigation season.

But Algoma subsequently cancelled the contract for the second ship, along with the contracts for three Seawaymax self-unloading vessels, due to the financial problems at the shipyard.

Croatian help

Under a new contract, 3Maj is completing the second vessel, with financing provided by the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development (HBOR), and has committed to a delivery date of September 2020. Algoma will pay the agreed price for the vessel at delivery, subject to late delivery penalties, including a cancellation right if delivery is delayed beyond an agreed date.

Gregg Ruhl, president and CEO of Algoma, gave thanks to the Croatian Government for supporting the project and the shipyard. “The Croatian Government worked closely with the shipyard’s management to navigate a complicated process and successfully coordinate the interests of suppliers and workers to complete hull 733, which will be named alGOMa inTrePid,” he said. alGOMa inTrePid will join alGOMa innOVaTOr as “the newest and most efficient river class vessels to enter the Great Lakes market in nearly 40 years”, added Ruhl.

Both ships feature forward-mounted booms, allowing cargo to be delivered at hard-to-reach docks typical of Algoma’s shortsea customers. On alGOMa innOVaTOr, the 81.1m boom luffs to 18 degrees and slews to 105 degrees.


Meanwhile, earlier this year, Oldendorff sold its three remaining self-unloaders still operating in the CSL Pool to Algoma, which is the pool’s third partner. The vessels are SOPHie OldendOrFF (70,037 dwt), HarMen OldendOrFF (66,188 dwt) and aliCe OldendOrFF (50,259 dwt) and sold for US$100.5M.

All three vessels had been trading in the CSL Pool on the East Coast of North and South America since they were built.

The CSL Pool consists of 18 self-unloading vessels ranging from Handysize to Panamax. CSL currently owns 10 vessels in the pool, and Algoma owned five, prior to the purchase of the three Oldendorff ships.

The HarMen OldendOrFF was well known as the training vessel for the Oldendorff fleet. A Ukrainian company ordered her as one of a pair in 1993, from the Ukrainian Okean Shipyard. The shipyard went bankrupt and the hull stayed in situ for more than 10 years. Oldendorff eventually purchased the hull in 2004 and towed it to Daewoo Mangalia shipyard in Romania, where it was completed as a bulk carrier. After completion in 2005, the vessel ballasted to China where it was converted to a gravity-type belt selfunloader with a discharge rate of up to 5,000 tph. What makes the vessel unique is that it was designed in the old Soviet Union style with very large accommodation facilities, suitable for up to 51 people. Oldendorff used the extra accommodation for training cooks, apprentices and others on board.

The Sophie Oldendorff was ordered together with two sister ships for CSL with some innovative features. The vessels had a moving hole system instead of traditional gates to gravity-feed the cargo from the holds on o the conveyor belts. The moving hole turned out to be a failure and was subsequently replaced with hydraulic gates. Other innovative features included an incline belt, and a midshipsmounted telescopic boom with a 200-degree slewing angle.

Post-sale, Oldendorff still retains 10 self-unloaders, with two new vessels on order. The new ships are destined for a 25-year contract for NSPC2 in Vietnam, where they will be used to unload coal from Capesize bulk carriers. The selfunloaders are fitted with a variety of self-discharge systems.


As for CSL, it too has taken some older vessels out of its self-unloader fleet, converting them to pneumatic cement ships.



CSL’s WyUna is one of three converted pneumatic vessels brought into CSL’s Australian coastal cement
CSL’s WyUna is one of three converted pneumatic vessels brought into CSL’s Australian coastal cement

Cement trio

In May 2019, the arrival of the final vessel, WyUna, in Australia was the culmination of a process many years in the making that delivered three newly converted pneumatic vessels for CSL’s Australian coastal cement customers.


From 2007 to 2012, the CSL Australia coastal fleet operated under a model of cargo flexibility to serve changing customer needs. Preeviously, three CSL mechanical self-unloaders, PaCiFiC, STadaCOna and THeVenard, served this trade carrying both granular and cement powder cargoes on alternate voyages, or as hold-separated parcels on the same voyage.

This flexibility suited customers’ cargo mix and required a responsive scheduling regime. However, over the past five years, cement customers have changed their trade patterns and committed to seaborne powder cement supply chains through long-term contracts and shoreside investment.

This led to a more specialised vessel requirement. CSL cknowledged this change and responded with the design, build and delivery of the three pneumatic cement vessels, kOndili, akUna and WyUna. The three vessels were built to be interchangeable between trade routes and customer facilities, and now operate around the southern and eastern coasts of Australia, from Adelaide to Gladstone.

Occasionally the vessels also carry import cargoes from Asia to supplement domestic cement supply. Pneumatic hoses connected directly to shoreside facilities deliver cement and fly ash directly into silos.



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