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United Heavy Lift takes over nine ships from Zeamarine

Multipurpose operator United Heavy Lift takes over nine ships from competitor Zeamarine, learns ShippingWatch. This is the second time in a short while that Zeamarine hands over ships to a rival as part of a large-scale cost reduction effort.

United Heavy Lift overtager bl.a. skibet Zea Future, som er en del af en serie på ni skibe. Photo: PR / Hammonia Reederi

Zeamarine continues to trim its fleet as part of the restructuring the company launched shortly before Christmas.

ShippingWatch has learned that competitor United Heavy Lift, owned by Lars Rolner and Lars Bonnesen, takes over nine ships from Zeamarine.

This happens a few days after another competitor, BBC Chartering, took over six ships from the Bremen-based MPP and heavy-lift shipping company.

The deal involves nine so-called Ecolift F900 ships, a series of young vessels. The ships were built in China in the years 2018 and 2019.

The ships were on charter with Zeamarine as part of a leasing arrangement with state-owned Chinese company CSSC Shipping, but they will now sail on longer time-charter contracts with United Heavy Lift, a centrally placed source tells ShippingWatch.

The first ship has been delivered, while the next one is set forthis week. All nine ships are expected to have been delivered to United Heavy Lift within five weeks.

After this, the ships will be deployed in the market for transporting parts for wind turbines and specialized cargo from oil and gas projets.

ShippingWatch has been in contact with United Heavy Lift and Zeamarine, which decline to comment on the information.

Crisis expert has taken charge

The nine ships boost United Heavy Lift's fleet considerably. The Hamburg-based shipping company currently has 14 ships, but will now have a fleet of 23 specialized cargo vessels.

On the other hand, Zeamarine now begins for real the restructuring it began in December,

The shipping company is part of the Zeaborn group and was created in 2017 when German Zeaborn merged with Intermarine. In recent years, the group – owned by German business man Kurt Zech – has acquired several competitors, and it is now working to integrate the companies.

Zeamarine in particular has been challenged, and as such, Zech has hired a crisis expert to manage the business, Sven Lundehn of law firm Alldatax.

Lundehn was previously involved in the bankruptcy of Beluga Shipping, which was, like Zeamarine, also based in Bremen.

All other managers have had their responsibilities lifted and will now instead refer to Lundehn, who has been given the title of managing director.

Top executive stepped down

The difficulties at Zeamarine became public in December 2019. Here, CCO Dominik Stehle stepped down, effective immediately, following disagreement with the rest of the management about the company's strategy.

A few months before Stehle's exit, the company had replaced its CFO, while two executives from the Asian business, Regional Manager Christian Andersen and Head of Business Development Rune Avbæk Larsen, also stepped down.

There have also been changes to the group executive team at Zeaborn, where founder Ove Meyer withdrew from daily operations in July 2019.

According to Zeamarine's website, the company's fleet currently counts 67 ships. However, this likely includes the 15 ships that have now been taken over by competitors BBC Chartering and United Heavy Lift.

In a statement dated Dec. 20 last year, Zeamarine said that the company is not about to close, and that it complies with all its contractual obligations. The company is expected to provide an update on its work on a new strategy this week.

English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch

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