Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) and other lines will be steaming ahead on its fleet expansion course to cash in on the strong freight market currents. Propelled by a hefty rise in net profit, Indian shipping companies have drawn up ambitious fleet expansion plans that should significantly prop up the country's tonnage in the next few years. The state-owned SCI, which posted a 111 per cent rise in net profit during the last quarter in 2004 over the corresponding previous period, has drawn up a massive $1-billion capital expenditure programme. The company plans to acquire two cellular container ships with a capacity of 4,250 containers, six super handimax bulk carriers and six product tankers. Besides these, SCI will also be placing orders for two more Very Large Crude Carriers and two cape-size vessels.
SCI had not been able to expand its fleet during the last two years due to the uncertainty over its disinvestment proposal. Now that the proposal has been shelved, India's largest shipping company will be steaming ahead on its fleet expansion course to cash in on the strong freight market currents. The company has submitted its expansion plans to the Government for approval, even as it is getting ready with the global tendering process. After scrapping and selling two vessels in the last quarter and taking delivery of a VLCC earlier this year, SCI now has a fleet of 81.
Great Eastern Shipping, the country's largest private sector fleet owner, plans to invest about $350 million to add 15 ships, including offshore vessels, to its fleet between 2005 and mid-2007. Its current fleet of 70 vessels comprises 40 ships (with an average tonnage of 2.76 million DWT and average age of 14.5 years) and 30 offshore vessels.