We need some definitions before we begin.
Supramax (which can also be called a Handymax) is 35,000 and 60,000 metric tons deadweight (DWT).
Panamax can transit the Panama Canal and is typically a vessel of 60,000 to 70,000 dwt but is not wider that 110 feet because otherwise it would get stuck.
Capesize are cargo ships originally too large to transit the Suez Canal which means they are both larger than panamax and suezmax vessels. Capesize have to pass either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. They are typically above 150,000 long tons deadweight (DWT), and ships in this class include oil tankers in the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) and Ultra Large Crude Carrier (ULCC) classes. The term "capesize" is most commonly used to describe bulk carriers rather than tankers. A standard capesize bulker is around 175,000 DWT.
Worth committing these fascinating facts to memory because these are the sort of facts you can easily drop into a conversation thus displaying your maritime erudtion.
Now to the story.
Chinese coal player Lanyue Energy Development has ordered 10 57,000-dwt supramax bulkers at Yangfan Group and Xiamen Shipbuilding through its shipping unit Lanhai.
The energy company is one of the top coal transporters in Guangdong province. Lanhai currently operates a small fleet carrying coal along the Chinese coast.
Lannyue has commissioned Yangfan to construct eight supramaxes and Xiamen another two for delivery from early 2011 to 2012.
Lanyue’s ordering spree will continue. An unnamed source (in China an all-too prevalent species), said, "It wants to build up its own fleet and would like to own up to 100 vessels as the company is looking to expand its domestic and international business."
A Lanyue official confirms the orders at Yangfan and Xiamen but plays down the company’s ambitious fleet plan.
He said, "We would like to own some ships and rely less on chartered-in vessels. But that will depend on the market demand and the prices of bulkers." Which may just be a way of getting the price down.
Asiais reports that the company is looking to own both supramax and panamax. A Lanyue official said, "For the time being, we do not need any capesizes."