The recent secondhand bulker-buying spree by Castor Maritime has caught attention but how does it compare with other activity by Greek owners who are traditionally the busiest players in the S&P market? Data from online valuer VesselsValue.com for 2020 offers some perspective

GREEK shipowners have long dominated annual sale and purchase market activity and it is no surprise to see individual owners rack up multiple acquisitions when they believe there is a wind at their backs.

But a recent spree by Castor Maritime, which has racked up its eighth secondhand acquisition since the start of this year, nonetheless stands out in a couple of ways.

The Nasdaq-listed company was a relatively small one going into this year with six dry bulk vessels, and eight recent additions appear to have been clinched in seven separate deals.

The only acquisition involving more than one ship, as far as can be seen, was the purchase last month from Dubai Navigation of two long range two tankers, Castor’s debut move in the tanker market.

Statistics provided by online valuer VesselsValue.com suggest that in just two and a half months of 2021, Castor has already surpassed the busiest Greek buyers of last year in terms of number of acquisitions.

It named Centrofin Management and Star Bulk Carriers as the biggest Greece-based buyers of 2020 with seven vessels apiece — all bulkers.

Centrofin, which is said to have paid $127.1m on its seven acquisitions, was reported to have acquired four kamsarmaxes from Scorpio Bulkers last November.

According to VesselsValue.com, Star Bulk splashed a total of $122.3m on its acquisitions.

By comparison, Castor has already spent a total of about $122m on one capesize bulker, five kamsarmaxes and the two tankers.

VesselsValue, which is led by shipbroker Richard Rivlin, founder of S&P specialist Seasure Shipbroking, also provided Lloyd’s List with other key data on Greek activity in the secondhand market last year.

Runners-up to Centrofin and Star Bulk in dry bulk investments were Navios Maritime Holdings, with two acquisitions costing $71.5m, Moundreas Shipping, the buyer of four bulkers for $57.2m, and Golden Union, which spent $48.9m on three vessels.

Tanker buyers last year were led by Dynacom Tankers with four acquisitions for an aggregate of $161.1m. Three more Greece-based companies — Maran Tankers, Edge Maritime and TMS Tankers — were linked to more than $100m of spending on tankers, with Thenamaris rounding out the top five Greek tanker buyers with a $94m purchase.

Brokers identified the company last May as the buyer of a scrubber-fitted Sinokor very large crude carrier resale for about that amount.

But VesselsValue put the TMS Tankers acquisition of the VLCC Lady, with a price tag of $106m, as the most expensive ship acquired by a Greek last year.

The scrubber-fitted tanker was reportedly acquired as a resale in January last year by George Economou in a joint venture with Idan Ofer and Standard Driling founder Oystein Stray Spetalen. Renamed Gustavia S, it is being managed as part of the Greek magnate’s TMS Tankers fleet.

According to the online valuer’s valuations, Star Bulk owns the most valuable dry bulk fleet in Greece, worth nearly $1.5bn on the basis of 90 owned vessels.

The 50-strong fleet of Maran Dry, the dry bulk arm of the Angelicoussis Group, comes a close second, with Laskaridis-owned Lavinia Corporation, Goldsen Union and Diana Shipping completing the top five.

On the tanker side, Maran Tankers has comfortably the most valuable fleet, with a current market value of about $2.9bn.

Maran is followed by the tanker fleets of Dynacom, Tsakos Energy Navigation, Thenamaris and Pantheon Tankers, VesselsValue said.