BREAKING: SAL and Jumbo are forging a heavy-lift powerhouse

SAL Heavy Lift and Jumbo Maritime are forging a new joint venture, combining large parts of their heavy-lift fleets and engineering and commercial activities. The Jumbo-SAL-Alliance, as the companies call their cooperation, will focus on gaining logistical efficiencies through joint fleet operations. 

Details remain scarce at the moment as the new entity has not actually been formed yet. For the moment, the carriers have only announced their intention to do so. The joint venture is subject to clearance by the German competition authority and Dutch in-company legal requirements. Both companies have started the necessary procedures to gain approval.

Jumbo’s spokesman Jan Hein Reeringh expects a go or no go within a month from now. “We cannot say more at the moment until approval has been given. This approval may also come in the form of a ‘Yes, provided that’, meaning we will have to adjust our plans, which is also why we are not revealing more about our plans at this time”, he says.

If the companies do get the green light, their joint venture is set to become a heavy-lift powerhouse with a fleet of 31 very heavy-lift capable vessels. “By pooling our vessels, we can offer a much larger fleet and we both have the entire fleet at our disposal. This means cargo can be booked on both SAL and Jumbo vessels, so we are also offering a larger variety of ships”, says Reeringh.

The shipping companies will remain in their current headquarters in Netherlands and Germany, with the joint venture operated from both offices. According to Reeringh, there won’t be consequences for the companies’ personnel.

Heavy-lift powerhouse

The Jumbo-SAL Alliance will be king in the very heavy-lift capable segment but for the individual carriers, the fleets are actually complementary to each other. While the combination will give SAL a significant boost in the very high lift range, Jumbo will get a big bump in the midrange of heavy-lift vessels.

Jumbo operates nine heavy-lift vessels ranging in maximum lift capacity from 650 to 3,000 tonnes. The majority of that tonnage is in the higher lift range, with four vessels capable of lifting 1,800 tonnes and two vessels able to lift 3,000 tonnes.

SAL operates 22 heavy-lift vessels. The flagships are the MV Lone and MV Svenja which can lift up to 2,000 tonnes and the carrier has another four vessels able to lift 1,400 tonnes. The majority of SAL’s fleet, however, is in the midrange of 640 to 900 tonnes.

Consolidation of heavy-lift fleet

Since the bankruptcies of Hansa Heavy Lift and Zeamarine, there has been a fair bit of consolidation of the midrange heavy-lift vessels. Spliethoff and United Heavy Lift, in particular, gained a significant amount of tonnage from these bankruptcies.

Spliethoff has added ten P-Type vessels to its fleet, seven with a lift capacity of 1,400 tonnes and three with a maximum lift of 800 tonnes. Together with the 11 BigLift heavy-lift vessels ranging from 800 to 2,200 tonnes in lift capacity, the Dutch project carrier could be considered the closest direct competitor to the SAL-Jumbo combination.

Below the 1,000-tonne mark, however, United Heavy Lift and BBC Chartering are also forces to be reckoned with. UHL is rapidly expanding its fleet of F900 vessels which, as the name implies, can lift up to 900 tonnes. The company first acquired nine of these vessels from Zeamarine following the carrier’s bankruptcy, and then ordered another eight of them in China, with the first one being delivered at the start of this year. BBC Chartering, the biggest multipurpose vessel operator in the world, operates 13 vessels in the 800-tonne range and another eight capable of lifting 700 tonnes. Another noteworthy competitor is AAL Shipping, which owns 14 700-tonne vessels.


For SAL Heavy Lift, this is the second major business expansion in a short amount of time. In October last year, the company announced it had acquired the Americas-focused breakbulk carrier Intermarine. If the new agreement with Jumbo will give the Dutch shipping company access to Intermarine’s fleet as well is not clear at the moment. But if it does, it will give Jumbo acces to another six vessels in the lower lift range of 120 to 300 tonnes as well as access to a strong Americas network.

Author: Adnan Bajic

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