…Eagle Bulk Nabs USD 208 Mn Loan***
…As Chinese Icebreaker Damaged in Iceberg Collision***
General cargo ship FWN Solide contacted icebreaker KONTIO on approaches to Oulu, Finland, northeast Gulf of Bothnia, at around 1000 LT Jan 22, while en route from Rotterdam to Oulu.
Understood collision occurred during ice channeling, a rather regular type of accident in ice-covered waters.
Dutch freighter suffered hole in bow bulb, but no water ingress or pollutant leak were reported, only moderate leak of ballast water. Icebreaker reportedly didn’t sustain any damages and remains active. FWN Solidedocked at Oulu at around 1030 LT.
Meanwhile, connecticut-based bulker owner and operator Eagle Bulk Shipping received a loan commitment from a consortium of banks for a new five-year senior secured facility worth USD 208 million.
The loan, secured by the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Eagle Bulk Ultraco LLC, bears an interest rate of LIBOR plus 2.50% and matures in 2024.
The facility will include a term loan equating to approximately USD 153 million and a revolving credit facility of USD 55 million.
The loan will be used to refinance the existing debt of Eagle Bulk Ultraco LLC and Eagle Shipping LLC, as well as for general corporate purposes, including capital expenditures relating to the installation of scrubbers.
Eagle Bulk had entered into a deal for up to 37 scrubbers intended for retrofits, comprised of firm orders for 19 scrubbers and up to 18 optional units. In November 2018, the company exercised options to purchase 15 additional exhaust gas cleaning systems.
Upon the repayment of the refinanced debt, Eagle Bulk expects to achieve around USD 65 million of incremental liquidity.
Financing for the facility will be provided by ABN AMRO, Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB, DNB Bank ASA, Danish Ship Finance, and Nordea.
The loan is expected to close by the end of this month, subject to the negotiation and execution of customary definitive documentation and satisfaction of certain closing conditions.
Eagle Bulk added that the loan may be increased by up to an additional USD 60 million for the acquisition of additional vessels, subject to undisclosed conditions.
In the meantime, the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long suffered minor damage on Saturday after striking an iceberg, according to China’s Ministry of Natural Resources.
The collision occurred at 69.6 S 94.0 W, off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Xue Long was making three knots in foggy conditions at the time of the encounter. Images broadcast by state television showed a small mountain of ice and snow on the Xue Long’s deck forward, and the crew used picks, axes, firehoses and deck cranes to break the debris free and put it over the side.
Video from the scene showed damage to the Xue Long’s foremast, railings and other fixtures on her bow, but no injuries or mechanical casualties were reported.
The 1993-built Xue Long is China’s sole heavy icebreaker (and one more is due for delivery this year). She was last in the news in 2014, when she was involved in evacuating 52 passengers from the Russian icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy. The Shokalskiy became trapped in the ice off the coast of East Antarctica in December 2013, prompting a multinational rescue effort. Xue Long could not reach the Russian vessel, but she deployed her helicopter to airlift the passengers to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.
China is intensifying its involvement in the polar regions, and its activities in Antarctica figure prominently in state media coverage. On January 4, a Chinese overland mission completed a 750-mile, 18-day journey from the coast to the Kunlun research station, the highest-elevation outpost on the continent. Kunlun lies a few miles from Dome A, the highest point on Antarctica’s glaciers at about 13,500 feet above sea level. It is quite possibly the coldest region on earth: In 2010, satellite measurements recorded a record low of -136 F near Dome A during the Antarctic winter.
Fleetmon with additional report from World Maritime News and Maritime Executive