Specialist heavy lift project carrier, AAL Shipping (AAL) has acquired two heavy lift 'mega-size' 33,000dwt W-Class multipurpose vessels (MPVs) from the second-hand market, the 'AAL Mars' and the 'AAL Merkur'. The vessels have been serving within the Carrier's operating fleet worldwide on a commercial management basis. Along with four other acquisitions made by AAL over the past eight months – comprising two heavy lift G-Class MPVs (25,800dwt each) the 'AAL Galveston' and 'AAL Genoa' and two 'mega size' W-class MPVs (33,000dwt each) the 'AAL Paris' and 'Grey Fox' – these vessels have helped to grow AAL's owned fleet to 569,600dwt and render the carrier control of 80 percent of its current 711,200dwt operating fleet.
AAL has also announced the progress of its 'third-generation' multipurpose (MPP) ship building programme. This will see AAL add a minimum of four mega-size heavy lift MPP vessels to its fleet – 'premium heavy lift carriers' featuring innovative design, heavy lifting gear, and optimised MPP cargo intake, and handling capability. They will each be 32,000dwt, with three heavy lift cranes (350t each and 700t maximum lift) and fully compliant with forthcoming IMO CO2 emissions regulations. The vessels will also feature other new technologies in line with AAL's digitalisation and sustainability objectives.
Kyriacos Panayides, Managing Director of AAL, explained, "We have been planning our third generation building programme for several years now, patiently waiting until such time that market forecasts and projected cargo demand within key customer verticals proved sustainable for this kind of investment. AAL drew upon 26 years of multipurpose heavy lift operational experience to design innovative vessels that would not only accommodate all today's multipurpose cargo types, but also handle the growing size of project cargo components being planned for key industry verticals like wind. The newbuilds will be deployed in support of our customers' large-scale global projects both on our regular monthly trade routes between the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia and our bespoke tramp solutions worldwide."
He concluded, "In 2021, the MPP shipping sector has experienced phenomenal growth, despite still operating in the throes of the global COVID-19 pandemic and severe port congestion. As a project heavy lift cargo specialist, AAL continues to prioritise breakbulk and project cargoes and servicing the needs of our traditional and long-term customers. This fleet development strategy not only builds our capacity on core trade routes between the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Oceania in support of these customers, but also gives AAL greater decision-making control of our fleet going forward."