There are two Handysize vessels of which one is owned and one is bareboat chartered that carry a variety of drybulk commodities, including iron ore, grain and coal, which are referred to as “major bulks” as well as bauxite, phosphate, fertilizers, steel products, cement, sugar and rice, or “minor bulks”. The aggregate dwt of our operational fleet is 52,889 dwt and the average age of our fleet is 20 years.
A spot charter and a period time charter are contracts to charter a vessel for an agreed period of time at a set daily rate. Under a spot charter, this daily rate can either be a contract to carry a specific cargo for a per day rate or a per ton carry amount, depending on the agreement with the charterer.
Under spot charters, FreeSeas pays voyage expenses such as port, canal and fuel costs. Under period time charters, the charterer pays these voyage expenses.
Under both spot charters and period time charters, FreeSeas is responsible for vessel operating expenses, which include crew costs, provisions, deck and engine stores, lubricating oil, insurance, maintenance and repairs. FreeSeas is also responsible for each vessel’s intermediate drydocking and special survey costs.
The exception to this practice is known as a “bareboat contract”, whereby the charterer is responsible for the vessel’s maintenance and operations, as well as all voyage expenses as explained above.
Vessels operating on period time charter provide more predictable cash flows, but can yield lower profit margins than vessels operating in the spot market during periods characterized by favorable market conditions. Vessels operating in the spot market generate revenues which are less predictable but may enable FreeSeas to increase profit margins during periods of increasing drybulk charter rates.
However, FreeSeas would then be exposed to the risk of declining drybulk charter rates, which may be higher or lower than the rates at which FreeSeas chartered its vessels. FreeSeas is constantly evaluating opportunities for period time charters, but only expects to enter into additional period time charters if FreeSeas can obtain contract terms that satisfy its criteria.
Finally, FreeSeas may from time to time employ its vessels in carrier pools. These pools, operated by third parties, bring together vessels from one or multiple owners to service the needs of charterers. In this arrangement, voyage and operating expenses are paid by the pool manager, and FreeSeas would be paid its “share” of the voyage revenues on a predetermined schedule.