On the waterfront: Repercussions from STX Pan Ocean's troubles spreading

The fallout from the announcement 10 days ago that the STX Pan Ocean Shipping Co had filed for receivership, has begun.

Reports indicate that company-owned tonnage has been arrested in overseas ports. And on Saturday, the 27,116gt New Giant, which had been anchored in Poverty Bay waiting to load logs at Gisborne, was also arrested.

STX Pan Ocean is South Korea's No 1 operator of bulk carriers. In recent years, it has incurred heavy debts and growing losses stemming from the slump in the global shipping industry.

The country's third-largest shipping firm, it can trace its history back to 1966, when it started out at Seoul as Pan Ocean Bulk Carriers.

The name was changed to the Pan Ocean Shipping Co in 1984 when it merged with several other small companies. It subsequently became part of the STX Corp, South Korea's 13th-largest conglomerate, which is also said to be cash-strapped.

Among its divisions are the STX Offshore and Shipbuilding yard at Jinhae, in China the STX Dalian yard, the STX Europe yard at St Nazaire, France, and STX Finland at Turku.

The latter two under earlier ownerships are both recognised for building cruise ships.

STX Pan Ocean is reported to own 97 vessels and had a further 249 on charter. Of the total number, 279 were employed in their core business, the dry bulk carrier sector. The company also owns car carriers, container ships and tankers. At present, the company has 31 bulk carriers on order at the Jinhai and Dalian yards.

The largest units in the owned fleet are Valemax ore carriers. The first of these, Vale Beijing was delivered from its Jinhae shipyard on September 26, 2011. This 199,959gt, 403,818dwt vessel has an overall length of 361m, a breadth of 65m and on a loaded draught of 23m has a service speed of 14.8 knots.

The ships that have represented these interests here over the years have been much more modest in size.

Of them, 26 have been bulkers that have brought in phosphate although others have loaded scrap, but mainly logs. And three tankers, STX Ace's 6, 7 and 12 havealso made appearances in 2009-10. All up, these 29 vessels entered this harbour on 84 occasions.

The first link with these interests came on June 4, 1979, when the 10,494gt Sammi No 1, built in 1970, arrived at Beach St. It was among the first vessels to load logs here for the South Korean market.

Over the ensuing years, changes in the ships' livery and logos have been noticeable as the fleet has moved away from the old Pan Ocean image to that of STX Pan Ocean.

And we have seen a variety of names prefixed by the words New, Ocean, Pan, POS and STX.

But two earlier units of the fleet stand out as having made more visits than any other log ships.

The 17,297gt Rainier, dating from 1977, made 14 calls from January 26, 1992, to August 16, 1994. Then the 15,187gt Sammi Crystal, built two years later, surpassed this figure with 18 visits from January 30, 1994, to November 3, 1997.

The last unit of the fleet to call here was STX Gloris, which loaded logs both at Dunedin and Port Chalmers, last October.

Registered in the Marshall Islands, the 20,742gt vessel was built in 2010 at Linhai by the Taizhou Maple Leaf yard. Yesterday, the five-year old Maersk Jaipur made a return visit.

The vessel is one of the 2824TEU container ships built at Ulsan by the Hyundai Mipo dockyard that are now well-known here.

On Wednesday, a 36,800dwt series of bulk carriers built at the same yard will be represented here for the first time when Orient Delivery berths at Dunedin to load scrap metal.

This 22,863gt vessel was delivered on September 7, 2012, to the Orient Delivery Shipping Co, for service under the Cypriot flag.


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