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In port last week, to discharge phosphate at Dunedin and then Ravensbourne, was brand-new Maple Amethyst.
Incorporated in its funnel markings are the letters MLSC that stand for the Maple Leaf Shipping Co. This is part of the Chinese ship-owning and shipbuilding Taizhou Maple Leaf Maritime group based at Linhai in the Taizhou Prefecture of Zhejiang province.
Twelve years ago, Taizhou Maple Leaf Shipping was founded by the restructuring of the Zhangan Shipping Co, which had been in operation since 1956.
Two years later, along with the development of this company and the Taizhou Jiaojiang Maple Leaf concern, the above-mentioned Hong Kong-based MLSC was established on May 16, 2002. By 2004, the group was operating 27 vessels.
The following year, land was acquired at Linhai as the base for a shipyard, the Taizhou Maple Leaf Shipbuilding Co Ltd.
One of the first vessels it delivered in 2007 was the 8706gt, 13,451dwt tanker Dijilah, the Arabic name for the Tigris River.
It was the first vessel to be built for the Iraqi Oil Tanker Company of Basra for 27 years.
From this smaller vessel, more recent production has been on a series of 179.9m-long, 13-knot bulk/lumber carriers ranging from 31,800dwt to 33,400dwt.
Maple Amethyst is now the third of these to call here and the second from the Hong Kong-registered MLSC fleet in the past 12 months.
Currently on its maiden voyage, the 20,954gt, 32,318dwt Maple Amethyst, laid down as Yard No 031 on October 12, 2011, launched on March 9, and was delivered on May 17.
And, as is now common practice, it is owned by a single-ship entity that includes the ship's name, Maple Amethyst Maritime Ltd.
The first unit of the fleet to come our way was the 20,867gt, 32,491dwt Maple Fortitude, which entered service on March 10, 2011.
On the first of its two visits last year, it berthed at Ravensbourne on July 14, to discharge phosphate, then went up to Dunedin to load the treated product for Australia.
The ship returned to Dunedin on September 20, to load another consignment for the same destination.
The other visitor, the 20,763gt, 33,345dwt Bulktec, berthed at Ravensbourne on December 20, 2011, then moved down to Port Chalmers two days later to load logs.
Also registered in Hong Kong, it was an older sister ship handed over to the Adani Shipping (China) Co of Dalian on June 23, 2009.
It is of interest to note that another customer is South Korea's STX Corp, which has shipyards in that country, as well as Europe and at Dalian.
They now have six of this class in service with their STX Pan Ocean fleet, and have two more under construction.
Due on its first visit in a few days' time, with another shipment of phosphate, is the Marshall Islands-registered bulk carrier Jaeger.
A 30,012gt, 52,483dwt vessel, it has been owned by Jaeger Shipping LLC of New York for the past six years.
Under the same flag, the ship entered service in October 2004, as the German-owned Frederike Selmer.
It was built in the Philippines at Balamban by Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu) Inc.
This is an offshoot of the parent Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co of Numakuma, a yard that constructed more than 50 of our past visitors.