Stelmar Shipping Ltd. has received the Cabo Hellas, a 2003-built double-hull Panamax tanker. The newbuilding is the first of the eleven new vessels that Stelmar expects to receive in late 2003 through September 2004. This program will enable Stelmar to grow its operating days by 29% in 2004 and an additional 9% in 2005. As previously announced, the Cabo Hellas was signed to a two-year profitable time charter contract with Cape Tankers.
Peter R. Goodfellow, Chief Executive Officer and President of Stelmar Shipping Ltd., commented, "We are extremely pleased to receive delivery of this new vessel, which will immediately contribute to our earnings. With a total of eleven new vessels to be delivered by September 2004, Stelmar is positioned to significantly enhance its profitability in 2004 and 2005. Stelmar's modern Panamax and Handymax fleet will allow Stelmar to take advantage of positive long-term industry fundamentals, as the Company continues to provide customers with the highest standard of service."
In addition to the Cabo Hellas, Stelmar will receive delivery of four Panamax tankers by June 2004, which will make the Company the largest owner of modern Panamax tankers. Three of these tankers have already been signed to profitable time charter contracts
and two include profit sharing agreements. The Company will also receive delivery of six Handymax vessels from January 2004 until September 2004. Stelmar's fleet will increase to 41 vessels comprised of 24 Handymax, 13 Panamax and four Aframax tankers, assuming no further disposals are made. The average age of the Company's entire fleet will be six years and 80 % will be double-hull, with only one single-hull vessel.
Including the new Panamax tanker, 86% of the fleet's net operating days for 2003 and 51% of the fleet's net operating days for 2004 have been secured on time charters, equivalent to $141 million and $105 million in revenues, respectively. For 2005, 26% of the fleet's net operating days have already been secured, equivalent to $56 million in revenues. Mr. Goodfellow, commented, "Stelmar continues to successfully execute its time charter strategy and expects to lock-in between 70% and 80% of its net operating days in 2004. Stelmar's strong time charter coverage will enable the Company to continue to post significant returns for shareholders in divergent rate environments. Our active management of our contracts combined with the deployment of select vessels in the spot market will also provide the company with the opportunities to capture upside potential in strong rate environments."