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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM 20-F

 

 

(Mark One)

  REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

 

  ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023

OR

 

  TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

OR

 

  SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Date of event requiring this shell company report

For the transition period from                    to                   

Commission file number: 001-34153

 

 

 

Global Ship Lease, Inc.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

 

N/A

(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)

Republic of The Marshall Islands

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

9 Irodou Attikou Street, Kifisia, Athens 14561, Greece

(Address of principal executive offices)

Anastasios Psaropoulos, Chief Financial Officer, 9 Irodou Attikou Street, Kifisia, Athens 14651, Greece

Tel number: + 30 210 6233670

t.psaropoulos@globalshiplease.com

(Name, Telephone, Email and/or Facsimile Number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

 

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.

 

Title of each class    Trading Symbol(s)    Name of each exchange on which registered
Class A Common Shares, par value of $0.01 per share GSL    New York Stock Exchange
Depositary Shares, each of which represents a 1/100th interest in a share of 8.75% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares, par value $0.01 per share    GSL-B    New York Stock Exchange
8.75% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares*    N/A*

  

 

N/A*

 

 

* Not for trading, but only in connection with the registration of the Depositary Shares representing 1/100th interest in such shares of 8.75% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares, pursuant to the requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None

 

 

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.

35,188,323 Class A common shares, par value of $0.01 per share

43,592 Series B Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares, par value of $0.01 per share

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.     Yes  ☒    No  ☐

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒

Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☒    No  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  ☒     No  ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

  Large accelerated Filer   Accelerated Filer  
  Non-accelerated Filer   Emerging growth company  

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of effectiveness of its internal controls over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.S. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b)  

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing: 

U.S. GAAP  ☒            International Financial Reporting Standards as Issued by the International Accounting Standards Board   ☐    Other  ☐

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

Item 17  ☐     Item 18  ☐

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange

Act).     Yes   ☐     No  ☒

 

 

 

 

GLOBAL SHIP LEASE, INC.

INDEX TO ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F

 

PART I   1
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers 1
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable 1
Item 3. Key Information 1
Item 4. Information on the Company 32
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments 51
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects 51
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees 73
Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions 80
Item 8. Financial Information 85
Item 9. The Offer and Listing 87
Item 10. Additional Information 87
Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk 95
Item 12. Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities 96
PART II   96
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies 96
Item 14. Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds 96
Item 15. Controls and Procedures 96
Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert 97
Item 16B. Code of Ethics 97
Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services 97
Item 16D. Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees 98
Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers 98
Item 16F. Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant 99
Item 16G. Corporate Governance 99
Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure 99
Item 16I. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections 99
Item 16J. Insider Trading Policies 99
Item 16K. Cybersecurity 99
PART III   101
Item 17. Financial Statements 101
Item 18. Financial Statements 101
Item 19. Exhibits  101

 

 
 

 

CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

 

This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements provide our current expectations or forecasts of future events. Forward-looking statements include statements about our expectations, beliefs, plans, objectives, intentions, assumptions and other statements that are not historical facts. Words or phrases such as “anticipate”, “believe”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, “intend”, “may”, “ongoing”, “plan”, “potential”, “predict”, “project”, “will” or similar words or phrases, or the negatives of those words or phrases, may identify forward-looking statements, but the absence of these words does not necessarily mean that a statement is not forward-looking. Examples of forward-looking statements in this Annual Report include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our disclosure concerning our operations, cash flows, financial position, dividend policy, the anticipated benefits of strategic acquisitions, and the likelihood of success in acquiring additional vessels to expand our business.

 

 

Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places in this Annual Report including, without limitation, in the sections entitled “Business Overview”, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Operations”, and “Dividend Policy”.

 

 

Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties and are based on potentially inaccurate assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expected or implied by the forward-looking statements. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in forward-looking statements for many reasons, including the factors described in “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report. The risks described under “Risk Factors” are not exhaustive. Other sections of this Annual Report describe additional factors that could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition, liquidity and the development of the industries in which we operate. New risks can emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all such risks, nor can we assess the impact of all such risks on our business or the extent to which any risks, or combination of risks and other factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Accordingly, you should not unduly rely on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this Annual Report. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events after the date of this Annual Report or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should, however, review the factors and risks we describe in the reports we will file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or “SEC”, after the date of this Annual Report.

 

PART I

 

 

Unless the context otherwise requires, references to the “Company”, “we”, “us”, “our” or “Global Ship Lease” refer to Global Ship Lease, Inc., “Technomar” refers to Technomar Shipping Inc., our technical ship manager and “Conchart” refers to Conchart Commercial Inc., our commercial ship manager, “Managers” refers to Technomar and Conchart, together. For the definition of certain terms used in this Annual Report, please see “Glossary of Shipping Terms” at the end of this Annual Report. Unless otherwise indicated, all references to “$” and “dollars” in this Annual Report are in U.S. dollars. We use the term “TEU”, meaning twenty-foot equivalent unit, the international standard measure of container size, in describing volumes in world container trade and other measures, including the capacity of our containerships, which we also refer to as vessels or ships. Unless otherwise indicated, we calculate the average age of our vessels on a weighted average basis, based on TEU capacity. All share and per share amounts disclosed in this Annual Report give retroactive effect, for all periods presented, to the one-for-eight reverse stock split of our Class A common shares effected on March 25, 2019.

 

Item 1.Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 2.Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 3.Key Information

 

 A.[Reserved]
B.Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not applicable.

C.Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

 Not applicable.

 

D.Risk Factors

 

 

 

The risks and uncertainties discussed below relate principally to the industry in which we operate and our business in general, and others relate to the market and ownership of our securities. The occurrence of any of the events described in this section could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, cash available for the payment of dividends, and the market price of our securities. Our business, financial condition and results of operations and the market price of our securities could also be materially adversely affected by other matters that are not known to us or that we currently do not consider to be material risks.

 

Risk Factor Summary

 

 

We are dependent on our charterers and other counterparties fulfilling their obligations under agreements with us, and their inability or unwillingness to honor these obligations could significantly reduce our revenues and cash flow.
   
Our growth depends on continued growth in the demand for containerships, our ability to purchase additional vessels and obtain new charters. We may require additional financing to be able to grow and will face substantial competition to purchase vessels.
   
Should we expand our business or provide additional services to third parties, we may need to improve our operating and financial systems, expand our commercial and technical management staff, and recruit suitable employees and crew for our vessels.
   
Our third-party technical and commercial ship managers, Technomar and Conchart, are privately held companies and there is little or no publicly available information about them.
   
Due to our lack of diversification, adverse developments in the containership business could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

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The volatile container shipping market and difficulty finding profitable charters for our vessels upon their expiry.
   
Our indebtedness could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations or pursue other business opportunities and limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry.
   
Despite our indebtedness levels, we may be able to incur substantially more indebtedness. This could further exacerbate the risks associated with our substantial indebtedness.
   
Our ability to comply with various financial and collateral covenants in our credit facilities.
   
Vessel values may fluctuate, which may adversely affect our financial condition, result in the incurrence of a loss upon disposal of a vessel or increase the cost of acquiring additional vessels.
   
We must make substantial expenditures to maintain our fleet, meet new regulatory requirements, meet commercial requirements or to acquire vessels.
   
As our fleet ages, we may incur increased operating costs beyond normal inflation, which would adversely affect our results of operations.
   
Volatility in the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
   
Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or result from our operations.
   
We are incorporated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate law.
   
It may not be possible for investors to serve process on or enforce U.S. judgments against us.
   
Our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws include forum selection provisions for certain disputes between us and our shareholders, which could limit our shareholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees.
   
We may not achieve the intended benefits of having forum selection provisions if they are found to be unenforceable.
   
We rely on our information systems to conduct our business, and failure to protect these systems against security breaches, or the failure or unavailability of these systems, could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
   
Our growth and long-term profitability depend mainly upon growth in demand for containerships, the condition of the charter market and the availability of capital. The container shipping industry is cyclical and volatile.
   
Our financial and operating performance may be adversely affected by global public health threats.
   
A decrease in the export of goods or an increase in trade protectionism may harm our customers’ business and, in turn, harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
   
The current state of the world financial markets, and economic and geopolitical conditions and conflicts could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.
   
Increased competition in technology and innovation could reduce our charter hire income and our vessels’ values.
   
If our vessels call on ports located in countries or territories that are the subject of sanctions or embargoes imposed by the United States government, the European Union, the United Nations, or other governments, it could lead to monetary fines or penalties and have a material adverse effect on the market for our securities.
   
Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency without adequate compensation, which under most of our time charter agreements would permit the customer to terminate the charter agreement for that vessel.
   
Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may be costly and may adversely affect our business and operating results.
   
We are subject to regulation and liability under environmental laws, including - while not being limited to - those related to emissions, decarbonization and the climate emergency, that continue to develop and could require significant expenditures and affect our cash flows and net income.
   
Increased inspection procedures, tighter import and export controls and new security regulations could cause disruption of our containership business.

 

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We are a “foreign private issuer” under the NYSE rules, and as such we are entitled to exemption from certain NYSE corporate governance standards, and you may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.
   
Future sales of our common stock could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.
   
Our operating income could fail to qualify for an exemption from U.S. federal income taxation, which would reduce our cash flow.

 

Risks Relating to Our Business

 

Operating Revenue Risk

 

We are dependent on our charterers and other counterparties fulfilling their obligations under agreements with us, and their inability or unwillingness to honor these obligations could significantly reduce our revenues and cash flow.

 

Payments to us by our charterers under time charters are, and will continue to be, our sole source of operating cash flow. We are consequently dependent on the performance by our charterers of their obligations under the charters. The container shipping industry is cyclical and, whilst financial performance improved from time to time, suffered an extended cyclical downturn lasting from the Global Financial Crisis in 2008/2009 through 2016, with freight rates, charter rates, asset values, and liner operator earnings under pressure due to oversupply of container ship capacity. Industry conditions generally improved from 2017 through 2019. The compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”) of containerized trade volumes from 2010 through 2023 was 2.8%, incorporating the impact of negative growth in 2020 (COVID-19), the rebound in 2021, and further negative growth in 2022 and 2023 (geo-political tensions driving inflationary macro-economic headwinds). The uncertainty concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on container shipping and the macro-economic environment has waned significantly over the past year. However, global public health threats, such as the reemergence of a COVID-19 outbreak, influenza and other highly communicable diseases or viruses, could adversely impact our operations and our charterers and other counterparties’ ability or willingness to fulfill their obligations to us. Additionally, uncertainty exists regarding the broader global economic impact of geopolitical conflicts, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, including the effect of sanctions imposed against Russia, the recent escalation of the Israel-Gaza conflict, other geopolitical tensions, such as those surrounding Taiwan and China, and the potential disruption to shipping routes including due to low water levels in the Panama Canal and ongoing attacks by Houthis on vessels in the Red Sea. Such uncertainty may adversely impact our business, and any escalation or spillover effects from these and similar conflicts may lead to further regional and international conflicts or armed action. It is possible that such conflicts could disrupt supply chains and cause instability in the global economy. Equally unpredictable is the impact these uncertainties may have upon our charterers’ operations and cash flows, and their payment of charter hire to us. If we lose a time charter because the charterer is unable to pay us or for any other reason, we may be unable to re-deploy the related vessel on similar terms or at all. Also, we will not receive any revenues from such a vessel while it is un-chartered, but we will be required to pay expenses necessary to maintain and insure the vessel and service any indebtedness on it.

 

Whilst there were no delays in receiving charter hire payments in 2022 or 2023, we may experience delays in receiving charter hire payments from some of our charterers, which under the charter contracts are due to be paid two weeks or one month in advance. As of December 31, 2023, no charter hire payments were outstanding.

 

If any of our charterers ceases doing business or fails to perform their respective obligations under their charters with us, our business, financial position and results of operations could be materially adversely affected if we face difficulties finding immediate replacement charters, or if such replacement charters were at lower daily rates and for shorter durations. If such events occur, these events may give rise to uncertainty about our ability to continue as a going concern. Please also see “—We may be unable to recharter our vessels at profitable rates, if at all, upon their time charter expiry” below.

 

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Operational Growth Risk

 

 

Significant demands may be placed on us as a result of possible future acquisitions of additional vessels.

 

As a result of possible future acquisitions of vessels, significant demands may be placed on our managerial, operational and financial personnel and systems. We cannot assure you that our systems, procedures and controls will be adequate to support the expansion of our operations. Our future operating results will be affected by the ability of our officers and key employees to manage changing business conditions and to implement and expand our operational and financial controls and reporting systems as a result of future acquisitions.

 

Our growth depends on continued growth in the demand for containerships, our ability to purchase additional vessels and obtain new charters. We may require additional financing to be able to grow and will face substantial competition to purchase vessels.

 

 

One of our objectives is to grow by acquiring additional vessels and chartering them out to container shipping companies. The opportunity to acquire additional containerships will, in part, depend on the state of and prospects for container shipping. The container shipping industry is both cyclical and volatile in terms of supply demand balance, freight rates, charter rates, vessel values and overall profitability. Although supply-side fundamentals have generally been improving since 2017, the industry remains vulnerable to an excess of supply of containership capacity and mediocre demand growth. As at December 31, 2023, idle capacity of the global containership fleet was 1.3%, and the global containership orderbook to fleet ratio was 26.8% - weighted heavily towards containerships larger than 10,000 TEU. The factors affecting the supply and demand for containerships, and the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions are unpredictable.

 

 Acquisition of vessels will be challenging as, among other things, we may need to obtain additional financing in order to complete vessel purchases. In recent years, financing for investment in containerships, whether newbuildings or existing vessels, has been severely limited. Further, the cost of available financing is currently high and may increase significantly in the future. In addition, the number of lenders for shipping companies has fluctuated and lenders have generally lowered their loan-to-value advance ratios, shortened loan terms and accelerated repayment schedules. The actual or perceived credit quality of our charterers and proposed charterers, and any defaults by them, may materially affect our ability to obtain the additional capital resources that we will require to purchase additional vessels or may significantly increase our costs of obtaining such capital. These factors may hinder our ability to access financing and we may be unable to obtain adequate funding for growth.

 

The process of obtaining further vessels and new charters is highly competitive and depends on a variety of factors, including, among others:

 

competitiveness of overall price;

 

availability of committed financing;

 

containership leasing experience and quality of ship operations (including cost effectiveness);

 

shipping industry relationships and reputation for reliability, customer service and safety;

 

quality and experience of seafaring crew;

 

ability to finance containerships at competitive rates and financial stability generally;

 

relationships with shipyards and the ability to get suitable berths for newbuildings;

 

construction management experience, including the ability to obtain on-time delivery of new vessels according to customer specifications; and

 

the energy efficiency and carbon profile of ships, including technical advances in vessel design, capacity, propulsion technology and fuel consumption efficiency, of us and our competitors.

 

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We will face substantial competition in expanding our business from a number of companies. Many of these competitors may have greater financial resources and a lower cost of capital than us, may operate larger fleets, may have been established for longer and may be able to offer better charter rates. During an industry downturn there are an increased number of vessels available for charter, including many from owners with strong reputations and experience. Excess supply of vessels in the container shipping market results in greater price competition for charters. During strong industry conditions, the value of vessels rises and there is substantially greater competition for purchase opportunities. As a result of these factors, we may be unable to purchase additional containerships, expand our relationships with our existing charterers or obtain new charters on a profitable basis, if at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We may be unable to make or realize expected benefits from acquisitions of vessels or container shipping-related assets/enhancements and implementing our growth strategy through acquisitions may harm our business, financial condition and operating results.

 

 

Our growth strategy includes, among other things, selectively acquiring secondhand and, potentially, newbuilding vessels and possibly seeking to diversify our asset base if an attractive investment opportunity presents itself. Growing any business through acquisition presents numerous risks, such as undisclosed liabilities and obligations, the possibility that indemnification agreements will be unenforceable or insufficient to cover potential losses and obtaining the necessary resources to manage an enlarged business. We cannot give any assurance that we will be successful in executing our growth plans, that we will be able to employ any acquired vessels under charters, that we will be able to purchase secondhand vessels or newbuildings at satisfactory prices or obtain ship management agreements with similar or better terms than those we have obtained from our current ship managers, that we will be able to purchase container shipping-related assets and subsequently lease them out at satisfactory prices or that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with our future growth.

 

Factors that may limit our ability to acquire additional vessels and container shipping-related assets include competition from other owners and lessors, availability of financing, shipyard capacity for newbuildings and the limited number of modern vessels with appropriate characteristics not already subject to existing long-term or other charters. Competition from other purchasers could reduce our acquisition opportunities or cause us to pay higher prices.

 

Any acquisition of a vessel or container shipping-related assets may not be profitable to us and may not generate cash flow sufficient to justify our investment. In addition, our acquisition growth strategy exposes us to risks that may harm our business, financial condition and operating results, including risks that we may:

 

 

fail to obtain financing, ship management agreements and charters on acceptable terms;

 

be unable, including through our ship managers, to hire, train or retain qualified shore and seafaring personnel to manage and operate our enlarged business and fleet;

 

fail to realize anticipated benefits of cost savings or cash flow enhancements;

 

decrease our liquidity by using a significant portion of our available cash or borrowing capacity to finance acquisitions or by additional repayments of debt;

 

significantly increase our interest expense or financial leverage if we incur additional debt to finance acquisitions; or

 

incur or assume unanticipated liabilities, losses or costs associated with the vessels acquired.

 

Should we expand our business or provide additional services to third parties, we may need to improve our operating and financial systems, expand our commercial and technical management staff, and recruit suitable employees and crew for our vessels.

 

 

Our current operating and financial systems may not be adequate if we further expand the size of our fleet or begin to provide additional services and attempts to improve those systems may be ineffective. In addition, we may need to recruit suitable additional administrative and management personnel to manage any growth. We may not be able to continue to hire suitable employees in such circumstances. If a shortage of experienced labor exists or if we encounter business or financial difficulties, we may not be able to adequately staff our vessels. If we further expand our fleet, or begin to provide additional services, and we are unable to grow our financial and operating systems or to recruit suitable employees, our business, results of operations and financial condition may be harmed.

 

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We are exposed to risks associated with the purchase and operation of secondhand vessels.

 

 

Secondhand vessels typically do not carry warranties as to their condition at the time of acquisition. While we would generally inspect secondhand containerships prior to purchase, such an inspection would normally not provide us with as much knowledge of the vessel’s condition as if it had been built for and operated by us during its life. Future repairs and maintenance costs for secondhand vessels are difficult to predict and may be substantially higher than those for equivalent vessels of which we have had direct experience. These additional costs could decrease our cash flow and reduce our liquidity. There can be no assurance that market conditions will justify such expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of the economic lives of such vessels.

 

We may not perform underwater inspections of vessels prior to purchase.

 

 

Although we would perform physical inspections of any vessel prior to its purchase, it may not be possible for us to undertake any underwater inspections. As a result, we will not be aware of any damage to a vessel that may have existed at the time of purchase and which could only be discovered through an underwater inspection. However, if any damage is subsequently found, we could incur substantial costs to repair the damage which would not be recoverable from the sellers.

 

Third Parties’ Performance Risk

 

 

We are dependent on third parties, some of which are related parties, to manage our ships and substantial fees will be payable to our ship managers regardless of our profitability.

 

 

As of the date of this annual report, all of our vessels are technically managed by Technomar, a company of which our Executive Chairman is the Founder, Managing Director, and majority beneficial owner, for an annual management fee. Technomar provides all day-to-day technical ship management, including crewing, purchasing stores, lubricating oils and spare parts, paying wages, pensions and insurance for the crew, and organizing other vessel operating necessities, such as the arrangement, management of drydocking and services in relation to the European Union Emission Trading System (“EU ETS”).

 

Additionally, all of our vessels are commercially managed by Conchart, a company of which our Executive Chairman is the sole beneficial owner. The services provided by Conchart, as our commercial manager, include chartering, sale and purchase and post-fixture administration.

 

 

The fees and expenses payable pursuant to our technical and commercial ship management agreements with Technomar and Conchart, respectively, will be payable without regard to our business, results of operation and financial condition and we have limited rights to terminate our management agreements. The payment of fees to our managers could adversely affect our results of operations and ability to pay dividends. For additional information please see “Item 4. Information on the Company — B. Business Overview —Management of our Fleet.”

 

Our third-party technical and commercial ship managers are privately held companies and there is little or no publicly available information about them.

 

 

The ability of our third-party ship managers, Technomar and Conchart, to render technical and commercial ship management services will depend in part on their own financial strength. Circumstances beyond our control could impair our third-party ship managers’ financial strength, and because each is a privately held company, information about the financial strength of our third-party ship managers is not available. As a result, we and our shareholders might have little or no advance warning of financial or other problems affecting our third-party ship managers even though their financial or other problems could have a material adverse effect on us. 

 

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Risks Relating to Certain of our Related Parties

 

Our Executive Chairman and our Managers may have conflicts of interest with us which may make them favor their own interests to our detriment.

 

Our Executive Chairman is the Founder, Managing Director, and majority beneficial owner of Technomar and the sole beneficial owner of Conchart, our third-party technical and commercial ship managers. Our Executive Chairman also beneficially owns approximately 6.4% of our Class A common shares. Accordingly, Technomar, Conchart, and our Executive Chairman (including their affiliates) have the power to exert considerable influence over our actions. These relationships could create conflicts of interest between us and our Managers. Such conflicts of interest may result in transactions on terms not determined by market forces. Any such conflicts of interest could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, and the trading price of our Class A common shares.

 

Such conflicts of interest may arise in connection with the chartering, purchase, sale and operations of the vessels in our fleet versus vessels managed or owned by other companies affiliated with our Managers. As a result of these conflicts, our Managers may favor their own or their affiliates’ interests over our interests. These conflicts may have unfavorable consequences for us. Although our Executive Chairman and Conchart have entered into a non-competition agreement with us, conflicts of interest may arise between us and our Managers, and such conflicts may not be resolved in our favor and could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

Our financial reporting is partly dependent on accounting and financial information provided to us by Technomar with respect to our vessels.

 

Technomar is obliged to provide us with requisite financial and accounting information on a timely basis so that we can meet our own reporting obligations under U.S. securities laws. Technomar is a privately held company with financial reporting arrangements different from ours. If it is delayed in providing us with key financial information, or it otherwise fails to meet its contractual obligations to us, we could fail to meet our financial reporting deadlines, which could lead to regulatory sanctions being imposed on us and cause us to default on reporting covenants under our financing agreements. Any such results may have a material adverse effect on our results of operation, financial condition and reputation.

 

Market Related Risks

 

Due to our lack of diversification, adverse developments in our containership transportation business could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Nearly all of our cash flow is generated from our chartering of containerships. Due to our lack of diversification, an adverse development in the containership industry may harm our business, results of operations and financial condition more significantly than if we maintained more diverse assets or lines of business.

 

In addition, we operate our vessels in markets that have historically exhibited seasonal, as well as cyclical, variations in demand and, as a result, in charter hire rates. This seasonality may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results, which could affect the amount of our cash flow.

 

We may be unable to recharter our vessels at profitable rates, if at all, upon their time charter expiry.

 

According to Maritime Strategies International Ltd. (“MSI”), as of December 31, 2023, idle capacity of the global containership fleet was 1.3%, and the overall orderbook-to-fleet ratio stood at 26.8%. Notwithstanding scrapping, the size of the orderbook will likely result in an increase in the size of the world containership fleet over the next few years, particularly in the larger vessel sizes (over 10,000 TEU). An over-supply of containership capacity, combined with a lack of growth in the demand for containerships, may result in downward pressure on charter rates. As at December 31, 2023, but adjusted to include charters agreed through March 11, 2024, the charters for nine of our containerships either have expired or could expire before the end of the first half of 2024 and a further nineteen vessels have charters which may expire during the second half of 2024.

 

We cannot be assured that we will be able to obtain new time charters for our vessels on expiry of existing charters or that if we do, the new rates will be favorable. If we are unable to obtain new time charters for our containerships at favorable rates or are unable to secure new charters promptly, or at all, the vessels would be idle. We would continue to incur certain operating costs but earn no revenue, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financings, results of operations and financial condition. Please also see “—We are dependent on our charterers and other counterparties fulfilling their obligations under agreements with us, and their inability or unwillingness to honor these obligations could significantly reduce our revenues and cash flow” above.

 

Technological developments which affect global trade flows and supply chains may affect the demand for our vessels.

By reducing the cost of labor through automation and digitization and empowering consumers to demand goods whenever and wherever they choose, technology is changing the business models and production of goods in many industries. Consequently, supply chains are being pulled closer to the end-customer and are required to be more responsive to changing demand patterns. As a result, fewer intermediate and raw inputs are traded, which could lead to a decrease in shipping activity. If automation and digitization become more commercially viable and/or production becomes more regional or local, total containerized trade volumes would decrease, which would adversely affect demand for our services. Supply chain disruptions caused by geopolitical events, rising tariff barriers and environmental concerns may also accelerate these trends.

 

 

Financing/Debt Risks

 

 

Our substantial indebtedness could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations or pursue other business opportunities and may limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry.

 

 

 As of December 31, 2023, we had $823.2 million of outstanding indebtedness, being $284.4 million of publicly rated/investment grade 5.69% Senior Secured Notes due 2027 (the “2027 Secured Notes”), $107.3 million of finance leases and $431.5 million of secured credit facilities.

 

Our leverage could have important consequences, including:

 

 

increasing our vulnerability to adverse economic, industry or competitive developments;

 

requiring a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to be dedicated to the payment of interest and amortization payments for our indebtedness, therefore reducing our ability to use our cash flows to fund operations, capital expenditure and future business opportunities;

 

making it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our indebtedness, and any failure to comply with the obligations of any of our debt instruments, including restrictive covenants and borrowing conditions, could result in an event of default under our 2027 Secured Notes and the agreements governing our other indebtedness;

 

restricting us from making strategic acquisitions or causing us to make non-strategic divestitures;

 

limiting our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, debt service requirements, acquisitions and general corporate or other purposes; and

 

limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business or market conditions and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who are less highly leveraged and who, therefore, may be able to take advantage of opportunities that our leverage may prevent us from exploiting.

 

 

Despite our indebtedness levels, we may be able to incur substantially more indebtedness. This could further exacerbate the risks associated with our substantial indebtedness.

 

 

 

 

We may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in the future. Although certain of our debt agreements contain restrictions on the incurrence of additional indebtedness, these restrictions are subject to a number of significant qualifications and exceptions, and under certain circumstances, the amount of indebtedness that could be incurred in compliance with these restrictions could be substantial. In addition, our debt agreements will not prevent us from incurring obligations that do not constitute indebtedness thereunder. If we incur substantially more indebtedness, the risks associated with our indebtedness as described above could be exacerbated.

 

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Our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business.

 

Our debt agreements contain various covenants that limit our ability to engage in specified types of transactions. These covenants limit or restrict our ability and the ability of certain of our subsidiaries from, among other things:

 

 

incurring additional indebtedness;

making any substantial change to the nature of our business;

paying dividends;

redeeming or repurchasing capital stock;

selling the collateral vessel, if applicable;

entering into certain transactions other than arm’s length transactions;

acquiring a company, shares or securities or a business or undertaking;

effecting a change of control of us, entering into any amalgamation, demerger, merger, consolidation or corporate reconstruction, or selling all or substantially all of our assets;

changing the flag, class or technical or commercial management of the applicable collateral vessel or terminating or materially amending the management agreements relating to such vessel; and

experiencing any change in the position of our Executive Chairman.

 

In addition, certain of our debt agreements require us and our subsidiaries to satisfy certain financial covenants, including on minimum liquidity, minimum net worth, and value adjusted leverage ratio. Our ability to meet those financial covenants and other tests will depend on our ongoing financial and operating performance, which, in turn, will be subject to economic conditions and to financial, market, and competitive factors, many of which are beyond our control.

 

Due to restrictions in our debt agreements, we may need to seek consent from our lenders in order to engage in certain corporate and commercial actions that we believe would be in the best interest of our business, and a denial of consent may make it difficult for us to successfully execute our business strategy or effectively compete with companies that are not similarly restricted. For example, our debt agreements restrict our entry into certain transactions or the termination or amendment of our third-party ship management agreements with Technomar and Conchart and require that George Giouroukos remain our Executive Chairman. Our lenders’ interests may be different from ours, and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to obtain their permission when needed. This may prevent us from taking actions that we believe are in our or our shareholders’ best interest. Any future agreements governing our indebtedness may include similar or more restrictive restrictions.

 

A breach of any of these covenants could result in a default under one or more of our debt agreements, including as a result of cross default provisions, and may permit the lenders (and other similar counterparties) to cease making loans to us. Upon the occurrence of an event of default under our debt agreements, the lenders (or other similar counterparties) could elect to declare all amounts outstanding under the loan to be immediately due and payable. Such actions by the lenders (or other similar counterparties) could cause cross defaults under our other debt agreements.

 

All but five of the vessels currently owned by us serve as security under our secured debt agreements. If our operating performance declines, we may be required to obtain waivers from our lenders (and other similar counterparties) to avoid default thereunder. If we are not able to obtain such waivers, our lenders (and other similar counterparties) could exercise their rights upon default and we could be forced into bankruptcy or liquidation.

 

The vessels’ mortgagor or other maritime claimants could arrest our vessels, which could interrupt the charterers’ or our cash flow.

 

If we default under any of our credit facilities or other indebtedness, lenders under our other credit facilities and indebtedness who hold mortgages on our vessels could arrest some or all of our vessels and cause them to be sold. We would not receive any proceeds of such sale unless and until all amounts outstanding under such indebtedness had been repaid in full. Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against that vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages. In many jurisdictions, a maritime lien holder may enforce its lien by arresting a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels, for valid or invalid reasons, could interrupt the charterers’ or our cash flow and require the charterer or us or our insurance to pay a significant amount to have the arrest lifted. In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as South Africa, under the “sister ship” theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel that is subject to the claimant’s maritime lien and any “associated” vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could try to assert “sister ship” liability against one vessel in our fleet for claims relating to another vessel in our fleet. In any event, any lien imposed may adversely affect our results of operations by delaying the revenue gained from ships.

 

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Assets’ Fair Value Risks

 

Vessel values may fluctuate, which may adversely affect our financial condition, result in the incurrence of a loss upon disposal of a vessel or increase the cost of acquiring additional vessels.

 

 

Vessel values may fluctuate due to a number of different factors, including:

 

 

general economic and market conditions affecting the shipping industry;

the types, sizes and demand for available vessels;

the availability of other modes of transportation;

increases in the supply of vessel capacity;

the cost of newbuildings;

governmental or other regulations; and

the need to upgrade second hand and previously owned vessels as a result of changes in regulations, charterer requirements, technological advances in vessel design or equipment, or otherwise.

 

In addition, as vessels grow older, they generally decline in value. If a charter terminates, we may be unable to re-deploy the vessel at attractive rates, or at all and, rather than continue to incur costs to maintain and finance the vessel, may seek to dispose of it. Our inability to dispose of the containership at a reasonable price, or at all, could result in a loss on its sale and harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, pursuant to the terms of the one remaining initial time charter with CMA CGM, the charterer has a right of first refusal to purchase the vessel at matching terms to any offer of any third party if we decide to sell it during, or at the end of, the charter period. Should CMA CGM decline to exercise its right of first refusal in case of a sale during the charter period, we will be entitled to sell the vessel, subject to CMA CGM’s prior approval, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. CMA CGM has the right to reject a sale of the vessel to owners whose business or shareholding is determined to be detrimental or contrary to its interest. Under one other charter, CMA CGM has the right to participate in any competitive sales process for the underlying vessel undertaken either during, or at the end of, the corresponding charter period. We may be forced to sell some of our vessels for a lesser amount because of these constraints. Moreover, if the book value of a vessel is impaired due to unfavorable market conditions, we may incur a loss that could adversely affect our operating results.

 

Conversely, if vessel values are elevated at a time when we wish to acquire additional vessels, the cost of acquisition may increase and this could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flow and financial condition.

 

In addition, if we determine at any time that a vessel’s value has been impaired, we may need to recognize an impairment charge, which could be significant, that would reduce our earnings and net assets. We review our containership assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable, which occurs when the assets’ carrying value is greater than the undiscounted future cash flows the asset is expected to generate over its remaining useful life. In our experience, certain assumptions relating to our estimates of future cash flows are more predictable by their nature, including, estimated revenue under existing contract terms and remaining vessel life. Certain assumptions relating to our estimates of future cash flows require more judgement and are inherently less predictable, such as future charter rates beyond the firm period of existing contracts, the amount of time a vessel is off-charter, ongoing operating costs and vessel residual values, due to factors such as the volatility in vessel charter rates, vessel values and inflation in expenses. We believe that the assumptions used to estimate future cash flows of our vessels are reasonable at the time they are made. We can provide no assurances, however, as to whether our estimates of future cash flows, particularly future vessel charter revenues or vessel values, will be accurate. Vessels that currently are not considered impaired may become impaired over time if the future estimated undiscounted cash flows decline at a rate that is faster than the depreciation of our vessels. Future fluctuations in charter rates and vessel values may trigger a possible impairment of our vessels as described in “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects— A. Results of Operations—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations—Critical Accounting Estimates.”

 

Declining containership values could affect our ability to raise cash by limiting our ability to refinance vessels or use unencumbered vessels as collateral for new loans or result in prepayments under certain of our credit facilities. This could harm our business, results of operations, financial condition or ability to raise capital.

 

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If impairment testing is required, we may need to recognize impairment charges. The determination of the fair value of vessels will depend on various market factors, including charter and discount rates, ship operating costs and vessel trading values, and our reasonable assumptions at that time. For example, we recorded an impairment loss of $18.8 million, in aggregate, in 2023 for two vessels. The amount, if any, and timing of any impairment charges we may need to recognize in the future will depend upon the then current and expected future charter rates, vessel utilization, operating and dry-docking expenditures, vessel residual values, inflation and the remaining expected useful lives of our vessels, which may differ materially from those used in our assessments as of December 31, 2023.

 

Loss of Income Risks

 

Our vessels may be subject to extended periods of off-hire, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Under the time charters for our vessels, when the vessel is not available for service, it will likely be “off-hire”, in which case the charterer is generally not required to pay hire, and we will be responsible for all costs unless the charterer is responsible for the circumstances giving rise to the lack of availability. Additionally, in many cases the charterer has the option to extend the latest redelivery date by the off-hire days. A vessel generally will be deemed to be off-hire if there is an occurrence that affects the full working condition of the vessel, such as:

 

 

any drydocking for repairs, maintenance or classification society inspection;

 

any time out of service necessary for owner to upgrade vessels to meet new regulatory requirements, such as ballast water treatment or emission control or to improve the specification and commercial characteristics of our vessels;

 

any damage, defect, breakdown or deficiency of the ship’s hull, machinery or equipment or repairs or maintenance thereto;

 

any deficiency of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew, including the failure, refusal or inability of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew to perform the service immediately required, whether or not within its control;

 

its deviation, other than to save life or property, which results in charterer’s lost time;

 

crewing labor boycotts or certain vessel arrests;

 

our failure to maintain the vessel in compliance with the charter’s requirements, such as maintaining operational certificates;

 

the vessel’s declared performance speed is reduced or fuel consumption is increased by more than 5% over a specified period of time; or

 

the vessel is requisitioned by any government or governmental authority.

 

Additionally, the charterer may have the right to terminate the charter agreement under a number of circumstances, such as if:

 

the vessel is off-hire for a specified number of days;

 

the charterer informs us of a default under the charter, and the default is not rectified;

 

there is a total (actual or constructive) loss of the vessel;

 

the vessel is requisitioned by any government or governmental authority; or

 

a vessel’s declared performance speed is reduced or fuel consumption increased in excess of a pre-agreed percentage over a continuous period of an agreed number of days, (for example, consumption in excess of 10% of that declared for a given speed over a continuous period of 30 days) and the reason is within our or the vessel’s control.

 

Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected if our vessels are subject to extended periods of off-hire.

 

Vessels’ Operational Risks

 

 

We must make substantial expenditures to maintain our fleet, meet new regulatory requirements, meet commercial requirements or to acquire vessels.

 

We must make substantial expenditures to maintain our fleet and we generally expect to finance these expenditures from operating cash flow. In addition, we will need to make substantial capital expenditures to acquire vessels in accordance with our growth strategy. Further, we may be obliged to make substantial expenditures to become compliant with changes in the regulatory environment, particularly concerning decarbonization, emission control and ballast water treatment. We may also incur substantial expenditure to improve the specification and commercial characteristics and competitiveness of some of our vessels. Such expenditures could increase as a result of, among other things, the cost of labor and materials, customer requirements and governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards relating to safety, security or the environment. If we are unable to generate sufficient operating cash flow, we will need to fund these significant expenditures, including those required to maintain our fleet, with additional borrowings or otherwise find alternative sources of financing. Such financing arrangements may not be available on satisfactory economic terms or at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

 

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As our fleet ages, we may incur increased operating costs beyond normal inflation, which would adversely affect our results of operations.

 

 

In general, the day-to-day cost of operating and maintaining a vessel increases with age. In addition, older vessels are typically less fuel efficient and may attract lower charter rates compared to modern, more fuel-efficient vessels. Governmental regulations and safety or other equipment standards may also require expenditures for modifications or the addition of new equipment and may restrict the type of activities in which our vessels may engage. We cannot assure you that, as our vessels age, market conditions will justify any such expenditures or expenditures to otherwise improve their operating characteristics, such as fuel efficiency to enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives, which could adversely affect our results of operations. Our fleet of 68 vessels as of December 31, 2023 had an average age weighted by TEU capacity of 17.2 years.

 

Unless we set aside reserves or are able to borrow funds for vessel replacement, at the end of the useful lives of our vessels our revenue will decline, which would adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

 

Our fleet of 68 vessels as of December 31, 2023 had an average age weighted by TEU capacity of 17.2 years. Unless we maintain reserves or are able to borrow or raise funds for vessel replacement, we will be unable to replace the older vessels in our fleet. Our cash flows and income are dependent on the revenues earned by the chartering of our containerships. The inability to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their useful lives could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Any reserves set aside by any of our subsidiaries for vessel replacement will not be available for servicing our indebtedness.

 

 Our business depends upon certain individuals who may not necessarily continue to be affiliated with us in the future.

 

 

 

Our current performance and future success depend to a significant extent upon our Executive Chairman, George Giouroukos, our incoming Chief Executive Officer (and current Chief Commercial Officer & Head of ESG) Thomas A. Lister, and our Chief Financial Officer, Anastasios Psaropoulos, who collectively have almost 85 years of experience in the shipping industry and have worked with several of the world’s largest shipping, ship leasing and ship management companies. They and members of our Board of Directors are crucial to the execution of our business strategies and to the growth and development of our business. Mr. Giouroukos has committed to spend approximately 50% on his time on matters related to our affairs. If these individuals were no longer to be affiliated with us, or if we were to otherwise cease to receive advisory services from them, we may be unable to recruit other employees with equivalent talent and experience, and our business and financial condition may suffer as a result.

 

Rising crew and other vessel operating costs may adversely affect our profits.

 

Acquiring and renewing charters with leading liner companies depends on a number of factors, including our ability to man our containerships with suitably experienced, high-quality masters, officers and crews. The limited supply of and increased demand for well-qualified crew, due to the increase in the size of the global shipping fleet, has from time-to-time created upward pressure on crewing costs, which we generally bear under our time charters. Increases in crew costs and other vessel operating costs such as insurance, repairs and maintenance, and lubricants may adversely affect our profitability. In addition, if we cannot retain a sufficient number of high-quality onboard seafaring personnel, our fleet utilization will decrease, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Increased fuel prices may have a material adverse effect on our profits.

 

The cost of fuel is a significant factor in negotiating charter rates and can affect us both directly and indirectly. The cost of fuel is borne by us when our vessels are off-hire, being positioned for and undergoing drydockings, between charters and when employed on voyage charters or contracts of affreightment. We currently have no voyage charters or contracts of affreightment, but we may enter into such arrangements in the future, and to the extent we do so, an increase in the price of fuel beyond our expectations may adversely affect our profitability. Voyage charter contracts generally provide that the vessel owner bears the cost of fuel in the form of bunkers, which is a material operating expense. In such case, we cannot guarantee that we will hedge our fuel costs on any prospective future voyage charters, and, therefore, an increase in the price of fuel may affect in a negative way our profitability and our cash flows. Even where the cost of fuel is ordinarily borne by the charterer, which is the case with all of our existing time charters, that cost will affect the level of charter rates that charterers are prepared to pay, depending in part on the fuel efficiency of a particular vessel. Upon redelivery of any vessels at the end of a time charter, we may be obligated to repurchase bunkers on board at prevailing market prices, which could be materially higher than fuel prices at the inception of the charter period.

 

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The price of fuel is unpredictable and fluctuates based on events outside our control, including but not limited to conflicts, geopolitical developments, supply and demand for oil, actions by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) and other oil and gas producers, economic or other sanctions levied against oil and gas producing countries, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns and regulations.

 

In addition, since the implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s regulations limiting sulfur emissions (“IMO 2020 Sulfur Regulation”) effective January 1, 2020, our vessels have been and continue to be operated using compliant low sulfur fuels, the price of which has increased as a result of increased demand. Fuel may continue to be more expensive, which may reduce our profitability and the competitiveness of our business compared to other forms of transportation. Further, as fuel costs are generally paid by our charterers, high fuel prices may impact their profitability if they are unable to pass these costs through to their customers. High fuel prices could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Interest Rate Risk

 

 

Volatility in the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.

 

 

Our secured credit facilities and finance lease obligations accrue interest based on SOFR, which, in some cases adds a credit adjustment spread, or CAS. Changes in SOFR could affect the amount of interest payable on our debt, and, in turn, could have an adverse effect on our earnings and cash flow. In order to manage our exposure to interest rate fluctuations under SOFR or any other alternative rate, we may from time-to-time use interest rate derivatives to effectively fix some of our floating rate debt obligations. No assurance can however be given that the use of these derivative instruments, if any, may effectively protect us from adverse interest rate movements. The use of interest rate derivatives may affect our results through mark to market valuation of these derivatives. Also, adverse movements in interest rate derivatives may require us to post cash as collateral, which may impact our free cash position.

 

Subsidiaries’ Performance Risk

 

 

We are a holding company and we depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to us in order to satisfy our financial and other obligations.

 

 

We are a holding company and have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our subsidiaries. Our subsidiaries own all of the vessels and payments under charters are made to them. As a result, our ability to pay dividends and meet any debt service obligations and other liabilities depends on the performance of our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute funds to us. The ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other distributions or payments to us will be subject to the availability of profits or funds for such purpose which, in turn, will depend on the future performance of the subsidiary concerned which, to a certain extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that may be beyond its control. Additionally, the ability of our subsidiaries to make these distributions could be affected by the provisions of our financing arrangements or a claim or other action by a third party, including a creditor, or by English law, Marshall Islands law or the laws of any jurisdiction which applies to us and regulates the payment of dividends by companies. Applicable tax laws may also subject such payments to further taxation. Applicable law may also limit the amounts that some of our subsidiaries will be permitted to pay as dividends or distributions on their equity interests, or even prevent such payments. Limitations on our ability to transfer cash among and within our group may mean that even though we, in aggregate, may have sufficient resources to meet our obligations, we may not be permitted to make the necessary transfers from one entity in our group to another entity in our group in order to make payments on our obligations. Therefore, if we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries, we may not be able to pay dividends, including on our Series B Preferred Shares, or meet our debt service obligations or our other liabilities.

 

Exchange Rates’ Fluctuation Risk

 

 

Because we generate all of our revenues in U.S. dollars but incur a portion of our expenses in other currencies, exchange rate fluctuations could hurt our results of operations.

 

 

We generate all of our revenues in U.S. dollars and some of our expenses are denominated in currencies other than U.S. dollars. This currency mismatch could lead to fluctuations in net income due to changes in the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies. Expenses incurred in foreign currencies against which the U.S. dollar falls in value could increase, thereby decreasing our net income. We have not hedged any of this exposure and our U.S. dollar denominated results of operations and financial condition and ability to pay dividends could suffer from adverse currency exchange rate movements. Future declines in the U.S. dollar versus other currencies could have a material adverse effect on our operating expenses and net income.

 

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Insurance and Litigation Related Risks

 

 

Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or result from our operations.

 

 

The shipping industry has inherent operational risks. Although we carry hull and machinery insurance, war risks insurance and protection and indemnity insurance (which includes coverage for environmental damage and pollution) and other insurances commonly held by vessel owners, we may not be adequately insured against all risks or our insurers may not pay every claim. Even if our insurance coverage is adequate to cover our losses, we may not be able to obtain a replacement vessel in the event of a total or constructive total loss in a timely manner. Further, under our financings, we are subject to restrictions on the use of any proceeds we may receive under claims in the event of a total or constructive total loss. Furthermore, in the future, we may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates for our fleet. We may also be subject to calls, or premiums, in amounts based not only on our own claim records but also the claim records of all other members of the protection and indemnity associations through which we receive indemnity insurance coverage for tort liability. In addition, insurers typically charge additional premiums if vessels transit certain “excluded areas,” which may be subject to higher risk of piracy, war or terrorism. We cannot be certain that our insurers will continue to provide such cover, or that we will be able to recover these increased costs from our charterers. Our insurance policies also contain deductibles, limitations and exclusions which, although we believe are standard in the shipping industry, may nevertheless increase our costs.

 

In addition, we do not presently carry loss-of-hire insurance, which covers the loss of revenue during extended vessel off-hire periods, such as those that might occur during an unscheduled drydocking due to damage to the vessel from a major accident. Accordingly, any vessel that is off hire for an extended period of time, due to an accident or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We may be subject to litigation that, if not resolved in our favor and not sufficiently insured against, could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

We may be, from time to time, involved in various litigation matters. These matters may include, among other things, contract disputes, personal injury claims, environmental claims or proceedings, asbestos and other toxic tort claims, employment matters, governmental claims for taxes or duties, and other litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business. Although we intend to defend these matters vigorously, we cannot predict with certainty the outcome or effect of any claim or other litigation matter, and the ultimate outcome of any litigation or the potential costs to resolve them may have a material adverse effect on us. Insurance may not be applicable or sufficient in all cases and/or insurers may not remain solvent which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition. Please see “Item 8. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—A. Legal Proceedings.”

 

Risks Related to Certain Corporate Affairs

 

 

We are incorporated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of corporate law.

 

Our corporate affairs are governed by our Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation and Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws and by the Business Corporations Act of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or BCA. The provisions of the BCA resemble provisions of the corporation laws of a number of states in the United States. However, there have been very few judicial cases in the Republic of the Marshall Islands interpreting the BCA. The rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under the law of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are not as clearly established as the rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under statutes or judicial precedent in existence in certain U.S. jurisdictions. Shareholder rights may differ as well. While the BCA does specifically incorporate the non-statutory law, or judicial case law, of the State of Delaware and other states with substantially similar legislative provisions, our shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions by the management, directors or controlling shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a U.S. jurisdiction.

 

Additionally, the Republic of the Marshall Islands does not have a legal provision for bankruptcy or a general statutory mechanism for insolvency proceedings. As such, in the event of a future insolvency or bankruptcy, our shareholders and creditors may experience delays in their ability to recover for their claims after any such insolvency or bankruptcy. Further, in the event of any bankruptcy, insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or similar proceeding involving us or any of our subsidiaries, bankruptcy laws other than those of the United States could apply. If we become a debtor under U.S. bankruptcy law, bankruptcy courts in the United States may seek to assert jurisdiction over all of our assets, wherever located, including property situated in other countries. There can be no assurance, however, that we would become a debtor in the United States, or that a U.S. bankruptcy court would be entitled to, or accept, jurisdiction over such a bankruptcy case, or that courts in other countries that have jurisdiction over us and our operations would recognize a U.S. bankruptcy court's jurisdiction if any other bankruptcy court would determine it had jurisdiction.

 

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It may not be possible for investors to serve process on or enforce U.S. judgments against us.

 

We and most of our directors and officers and those of our subsidiaries are residents of countries other than the United States. Substantially all of our and our subsidiaries’ assets and a substantial portion of the assets of our directors and officers are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for United States investors to effect service of process within the United States upon us, our directors or officers, or our subsidiaries or to realize against us or them judgments obtained in United States courts, including judgments predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state in the United States. In addition, you should not assume that courts in the country in which we or our subsidiaries are incorporated or where our assets or the assets of our subsidiaries are located (1) would enforce judgments of U.S. courts obtained in actions against us or our subsidiaries based upon the civil liability provisions of applicable U.S. federal and state securities laws or (2) would enforce, in original actions, liabilities against us or our subsidiaries based on those laws.

 

Our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws include forum selection provisions for certain disputes between us and our shareholders, which could limit our shareholdersability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees.

 

Our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the High Court of the Republic of the Marshall Islands shall be the sole and exclusive forum for any internal corporate claim, intra-corporate claim, or claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine, including (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer, employee or shareholder of the Company to the Company or the Company’s shareholders, and (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the BCA or our Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation or Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws. Our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws further provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum and subject to the foregoing, and except as otherwise provided above, the United States District Court for the Southern District of York (or, if such court does not have jurisdiction over such claim, any other federal district court of the United States) shall be the sole and exclusive forum for claims arising under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) or the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). These forum selection provisions may increase costs associated with, and/or limit a shareholder’s ability to, bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits with respect to such claims, although shareholders will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.

 

We may not achieve the intended benefits of having forum selection provisions if they are found to be unenforceable.

 

Our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws include forum selection provisions as described above. However, the enforceability of similar forum selection provisions in other companies’ governing documents has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that in connection with any action a court could find the forum selection provisions contained in our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in such action. Section 22 of the Securities Act creates concurrent jurisdiction for federal and state courts over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Securities Act and the rules and regulations thereunder and Section 27 of the Exchange Act creates exclusive federal jurisdiction over all suits brought to enforce any duty or liability created by the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations thereunder, and accordingly, we cannot be certain that a court would enforce our forum selection provisions.  It is possible that a court could find our forum selection provisions to be inapplicable or unenforceable, and, accordingly, we could be required to litigate claims in multiple jurisdictions, incur additional costs with resolving such claims in other jurisdictions, or otherwise not receive the benefits that we expect our forum selection provisions to provide, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Cybersecurity Risk

 

 

A cyber-attack could materially disrupt our business.

 

We rely on information technology systems and networks in our operations and administration of our business. Information systems are vulnerable to security breaches by computer hackers and cyber terrorists. We rely on industry accepted security measures and technology to securely maintain confidential and proprietary information maintained on our information systems. However, these measures and technology may not adequately prevent security breaches. Our business operations could be targeted by individuals or groups seeking to sabotage or disrupt our information technology systems and networks, or to steal data. A successful cyber-attack could materially disrupt our operations, including the safety of our operations, or lead to unauthorized release of information or alteration of information in our systems. Any such attack or other breach of our information technology systems could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. In addition, the unavailability of the information systems or the failure of these systems to perform as anticipated for any reason could disrupt our business and could result in decreased performance and increased operating costs, causing our business and results of operations to suffer. Any significant interruption or failure of our information systems or any significant breach of security could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

Risks Relating to Our Industry

 

 

Our growth and long-term profitability depend mainly upon growth in demand for containerships, the condition of the charter market and the availability of capital. The container shipping industry is cyclical and volatile.

 

The container shipping industry is both seasonal and cyclical but has shown positive demand growth in every year of its history except 2009 (the Global Financial Crisis), 2020 (the COVID-19 pandemic), 2022 and 2023 (geo-political tensions driving inflationary macro-economic headwinds). According to MSI, between 2000 and 2008, which included a period of super-cyclical growth partly fueled by a significant increase in trade with China, containerized trade grew at an annual compound rate of 9.9%. The Global Financial Crisis, from late 2008, prompted a contraction of demand, with 2009 volumes falling by around 8.0%. In 2010, demand rebounded, with volume growth of 15.3%. From 2010 through 2023, incorporating the impact of negative growth in 2020 (COVID-19), the rebound in 2021, and further negative growth in 2022 and 2023 (geo-political tensions driving inflationary macro-economic headwinds), CAGR was 2.8%. On the supply side, between 1995 and 2008, the nominal carrying capacity of the industry-wide fully cellular fleet grew by a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 11.4%; and from 2009 through 2020 at 5.7%, as the industry digested the legacy of the pre-financial crisis orderbook. Net supply CAGR 2021 through 2023 is estimated at 5.6% and, as of December 31, 2023, the containership fleet was estimated to be 5,906 ships, with an aggregate capacity of approximately 27.9 million TEU.

 

Weak conditions in the containership sector may affect our ability to generate cash flows and maintain liquidity, as well as adversely affect our ability to obtain financing.

 

The factors affecting the supply and demand for containerships and container shipping services are outside our control, and the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions are unpredictable.

 

The factors that influence demand for containership capacity include:

 

supply and demand for products suitable for shipping in containers;

 

changes in the patterns of global production and consumption of products transported by containerships;

 

the changing dynamics of globalization, regionalization, or re-shoring of manufacturing;

 

global and regional economic and political conditions;

 

developments in international trade;

 

changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns, including changes in the distances over which container cargoes are transported, the size of containerships, the extent of trans-shipments and the competitiveness of other forms of marine transportation including dry bulk and refrigerated vessels;

 

environmental and other legal and regulatory developments;

 

the price of oil and economics of slow steaming;

 

the availability of trade finance and currency exchange rates; and

 

port and canal congestion.

 

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The factors that influence the supply of containership capacity include:

 

 

the containership newbuilding orderbook;

 

the availability of financing;

 

the scrapping rate of containerships;

 

the number of containerships off-hire or otherwise idle including laid-up;

 

the price of steel and other raw materials;

 

changes in environmental and other laws and regulations that may limit the useful life of containerships;

 

the availability of shipyard capacity;

 

port and canal congestion; and

 

the extent of slow steaming.

 

Our ability to recharter our containerships upon the expiration of their current charters. As at December 31, 2023, but adjusted to include all charters agreed through March 11, 2024, the charters for nine of our containerships, either have expired or could expire before the end of the first half of 2024 and a further nineteen vessels have charters which may expire during the second half of 2024.

 

Charter rates receivable under any renewal or replacement charters will depend upon, among other things, the prevailing state of the containership charter market. If the charter market is depressed when our charters expire, we may be forced to recharter our containerships at reduced or even unprofitable rates, or we may not be able to recharter them at all, which may reduce or eliminate our results of operations or make our results of operations volatile. The same issues will exist in respect of any additional vessels we may acquire either when obtaining the initial charters or on rechartering at their expiry.

 

Public Health Threats Risk

 

 

Our financial and operating performance may be adversely affected by global public health threats.

 

Public health threats, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza and other highly communicable diseases or viruses, outbreaks of which from time to time occur in various parts of the world in which we operate, including China, could adversely impact our operations and the operations of our customers. The COVID-19 pandemic had, among other things, caused delayed or extended drydockings, disrupted our operations from non-availability of staff and materials and significantly affect global markets, including the demand for container shipping services, and therefore charter rates and asset values.

 

Although the incidence and severity of COVID-19 and its variants have diminished over time, similar restrictions and future prevention and mitigation measures against outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic diseases are likely to have an adverse impact on the global economic conditions, which would materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition, value of our vessel and other vessels we may acquire, and ability to pay dividends. As a result of prevention measures and restrictions, our vessels may not be able to call or disembark from ports, located in regions affected by an outbreak. In addition, we may experience severe operational disruptions and delays, unavailability of normal port infrastructure and services including limited access to equipment, critical goods and personnel, disruptions to crew changes, quarantine of ships and/or crew, counterparty solidarity, closure of ports and customs offices, as well as disruptions in supply chain and industrial production, which may lead to reduced cargo demand, among other potential consequences attendant to health threats.

 

 

Global Financial Market Risks

 

 

A decrease in the export and/or import of containerized cargo or an increase in trade protectionism may harm our customers’ business and, in turn, harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

 

Much of our customers’ containership business revenue is derived from the shipment of goods from the Asia Pacific region, primarily China, to various overseas export markets, including the United States and Europe. Any reduction in or hindrance to the output of China-based exporters could negatively affect the growth rate of China’s exports and our customers’ business. For instance, the government of China has implemented economic policies aimed at increasing domestic consumption of Chinese-made goods. This may reduce the supply of goods available for export and may, in turn, result in a decrease in shipping demand. Additionally, though in China there is an increasing level of autonomy and a gradual shift in emphasis to a “market economy” and enterprise reform, many of the reforms, particularly some limited price reforms that result in the prices for certain commodities being principally determined by market forces, are unprecedented or experimental and may be subject to revision, change or abolition. The level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by changes to these economic reforms by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government. Changes in laws and regulations in China, including with regards to tax matters, and their implementation by local authorities could affect our charterers’ business and have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

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Our international operations expose us to the risk that increased trade protectionism will harm our business. In times of global economic challenge, governments may turn to trade barriers to protect their domestic industries against foreign imports, thereby depressing shipping demand. Protectionist developments, or the perception that they may occur, could have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions, and may significantly reduce global trade. Moreover, increasing trade protectionism may cause an increase in (i) the cost of goods exported from regions globally, (ii) the length of time required to transport goods and (iii) the risks associated with exporting goods. Such increases may significantly affect the quantity of goods to be shipped, shipping time schedules, voyage costs and other associated costs, which could have an adverse impact on our charterers’ business, operating results and financial condition and could thereby affect their ability to make timely charter hire payments to us and to renew and increase the number of their time charters with us. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and our ability to pay any cash distributions to our stockholders.

 

Adverse economic conditions, especially in the Asia Pacific region, the European Union or the United States, could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

 

We anticipate a significant number of the port calls made by our vessels will involve the loading or discharging of containerships in ports in the Asia Pacific region. Consequently, economic turmoil in that region may exacerbate the effect of any economic slowdown on us. Before the global economic financial crisis that began in 2008, China had one of the world’s fastest growing economies in terms of gross domestic product, or GDP, which had a significant impact on shipping demand. China’s GDP growth rate for the year ended December 31, 2023 was approximately 5.2%, which was an increase from 3.0% for the year ended December 31, 2022. It is possible that China and other countries in the Asia Pacific region will continue to experience volatile, slowed or even negative economic growth in the near future.

 

The United States has also implemented more protectionist trade measures in an effort to protect and enhance its domestic economy. Additionally, the European Union, or the EU, and certain of its member states are facing significant economic and political challenges, including a risk of increased protectionist policies and the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Our business, results of operations and financial condition will likely be harmed by any significant economic downturn in the Asia Pacific region, including China, or in the EU or the United States.

 

In recent years, China and the United States have implemented certain increasingly protective trade measures with continuing trade tensions, including significant tariff increases, between these countries. Although the United States and China successfully reached an interim trade deal in January 2020 that deescalated the trade tensions with both sides rolling back tariffs, the extent to which the trade deal will be successfully implemented is unpredictable. A decrease in the level of imports to and exports from China could adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.

 

 

The current state of the world financial market and current economic conditions could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

 

The world economy is facing a number of actual and potential challenges, including the war between Ukraine and Russia, the recent escalation of the Israel-Gaza conflict, the potential disruption of shipping routes including due to low water levels in the Panama Canal and ongoing attacks by Houthis on vessels in the Red Sea, current trade tension between the United States and China, political instability in the Middle East and the South China Sea region and other geographic countries and areas, terrorist or other attacks, war (or threatened war) or international hostilities, such as those between the United States and North Korea or Iran, and epidemics or pandemics, such as COVID-19, and banking crises or failures, such as the recent Silicon Valley Bank failure. For example, due in part to fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 (as more fully described above), global financial markets experienced significant volatility which may continue as the pandemic evolves or a new COVID-19 variant emerges. In addition, the continuing conflict in Ukraine led to increased economic uncertainty amidst fears of a more generalized military conflict or significant inflationary pressures, due to the increases in fuel and grain prices following the sanctions imposed on Russia. Whether the present dislocation in the markets and resultant inflationary pressures will transition to a long-term inflationary environment is uncertain, and the effects of such a development on charter rates, vessel demand and operating expenses in the sector in which we operate are uncertain. These issues, along with the re-pricing of credit risk and the difficulties currently experienced by financial institutions have made, and will likely continue to make, it difficult to obtain financing. As a result of the disruptions in the credit markets, many lenders have increased margins, enacted tighter lending standards, required more restrictive terms (including higher collateral ratios for advances, shorter maturities and smaller loan amounts), or refused to refinance existing debt at all or on terms similar to our current debt. Furthermore, certain banks that have historically been significant lenders to the shipping industry have announced an intention to reduce or cease lending activities in the shipping industry. New banking regulations, including larger capital requirements and the resulting policies adopted by lenders, could reduce lending activities. We may experience difficulties obtaining financing commitments in the future if current or future lenders are unwilling to extend financing to us or unable to meet their funding obligations due to their own liquidity, capital or solvency issues. The current state of global financial markets and current economic conditions might adversely impact our ability to issue additional equity at prices that will not be dilutive to our existing shareholders or preclude us from issuing equity at all.

 

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We cannot be certain that financing or refinancing will be available on acceptable terms or at all. If financing or refinancing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to meet our future obligations as they come due. Our failure to obtain such funds could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition, as well as our cash flows, including cash available for dividends to our shareholders. In the absence of available financing, we also may be unable to take advantage of business opportunities or respond to competitive pressures.

 

Further, we may not be able to access our existing cash due to market conditions. For example, on March 10, 2023, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) took control and was appointed receiver of Silicon Valley Bank (a bank unrelated to us and our activities). If other banks and financial institutions enter receivership or become insolvent in the future in response to financial conditions affecting the banking system and financial markets, our ability to access our existing cash may be threatened and could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

 

The U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union (“EU”) may have a negative effect on global economic conditions, financial markets and our business.

 

In June 2016, a majority of voters in the U.K. elected to withdraw from the EU in a national referendum, a process that the government of the U.K. formally initiated in March 2017 (“Brexit”). The U.K. and the EU negotiated the terms of a withdrawal agreement, which was approved in October 2019 and ratified in January 2020. The U.K. formally exited the EU on January 31, 2020, although a transition period was in place until December 2020, during which the U.K. remained subject to the rules and regulations of the EU while continuing to negotiate the parties’ relationship going forward, including trade deals. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“Cooperation Agreement”) was agreed on December 24, 2020, ratified by the UK Parliament on December 30, 2020 and has been provisionally applied by the EU from December 31, 2020. There is still uncertainty as to the practical consequences of the Cooperation Agreement and its impact on the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU over the short-, medium, and long term. These developments and uncertainties have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and may significantly reduce global market liquidity and restrict the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. Any of these factors could depress economic activity and restrict our access to capital, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and on our consolidated financial position, results of operations and our ability to pay distributions. Additionally, Brexit or similar events in other jurisdictions, could impact global markets, including foreign exchange and securities markets; any resulting changes in currency exchange rates, tariffs, treaties and other regulatory matters could in turn adversely impact our business and operations.

 

Brexit contributes to uncertainty concerning the current and future economic environment. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets.

 

We may have more difficulty entering into long-term charters if a more active and cheaper short-term or spot container shipping market develops.

 

At the expiration of our charters or if a charter terminates early for any reason or if we acquire vessels charter-free, we will need to charter or recharter our vessels. If an excess of vessels is available on the spot or short-term market at the time we are seeking to fix new longer-term charters, we may have difficulty entering into such charters at all or at profitable rates and for any term other than short term and, as a result, our cash flow may be subject to instability in the mid to long-term. In addition, it would be more difficult to fix relatively older vessels should there be an oversupply of younger vessels on the market. A depressed spot market may require us to enter into short-term spot charters based on prevailing market rates, which could result in a decrease in our cash flow.

 

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An over-supply of containership capacity may lead to reductions in charter hire rates and profitability.

 

While the size of the containership orderbook has declined substantially since its peak in 2008/2009, the containership newbuilding orderbook as of December 31, 2023 represented approximately 26.8% of the total on the water fleet capacity. Further containerships are likely to be ordered. Notwithstanding scrapping, delivery of newly built containerships will likely result in an increase in the size of the world containership fleet over the next few years. An over-supply of containership capacity, combined with any decline in the rate of growth in demand for containerships, would be likely to result in a reduction of charter hire rates. If such a reduction occurs when we seek to charter newbuilding vessels, our growth opportunities may be diminished. If such a reduction occurs upon the expiration or termination of our containerships’ current time charters, we may only be able to recharter our containerships for reduced rates or unprofitable rates or we may not be able to recharter our containerships at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.

 

Increased competition in technology and innovation could reduce our charter hire income and the value of our vessels.

 

The charter rates and the value and operational life of a vessel are determined by a number of factors, including the vessel’s efficiency, operational flexibility and physical life. Efficiency includes speed and fuel economy. Flexibility includes the ability to enter harbors, utilize related docking facilities and pass through canals and straits together with other vessel specifications such as the capacity to carry temperature controlled containers (reefers). Physical life is related to the original design and construction, maintenance and the impact of the stress of operations. If new ship designs currently promoted by shipyards as being more fuel efficient perform, or if new containerships built in future that are more efficient or flexible or have longer physical lives than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced containerships could adversely affect our ability to re-charter, the amount of charter-hire payments that we receive for our containerships once their current time charters expire and the resale value of our containerships. This could adversely affect our ability to service our debt or pay dividends to our shareholders.

 

Piracy Related Risk

 

 

Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels have increased in frequency, which could adversely affect our business.

 

Piracy is an inherent risk in the operation of ocean-going vessels and particularly affects vessels operating in specific regions of the world such as the South China Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, off the coast of West Africa and off the coast of Somalia. Generally, we do not control the routing of our vessels, which is determined by the charterer. Pirate attacks on any of our vessels could result in loss of life, the kidnapping of crew or the theft, damage or destruction of vessels or of containers or cargo being transported thereon. In addition, while we believe the charterer remains liable for charter payments when a vessel is seized by pirates, the charterer may dispute this and withhold charter hire until the vessel is released. A charterer may also claim that a vessel seized by pirates was not “on-hire” for a certain number of days and it is therefore entitled to cancel the charter party, a claim that we would dispute. We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, insurance premiums and costs such as onboard security guards, should we decide to employ them, could increase in such circumstances. Further, acts of piracy may materially adversely affect our charterer’s business, impairing its ability to make payments to us under our charters.

 

 

Terrorist attacks and international hostilities could affect our results of operations and financial condition.

 

Terrorist attacks and the continuing response of the United States and other countries to these attacks, as well as the threat of future terrorist attacks, continue to cause uncertainty in the world financial markets and may affect our business, results of operations and financial condition from increased security costs and more rigorous inspection procedures at borders and ports. From time to time, acts of terrorism, regional conflict and other armed conflict around the world may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets. These uncertainties could also adversely affect our ability to obtain additional financing on terms acceptable to us or at all.

 

Terrorist attacks targeted at oceangoing vessels may also negatively affect our future operations and financial condition from, for example, increased insurance costs, and directly impact our containerships or our charterer. Future terrorist attacks could result in increased market volatility or even a recession in the United States or elsewhere or negatively affect global financial markets and could further increase inspection and security requirements and regulation that could slow our operations and negatively affect our profitability. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our operating results, revenue and costs.

 

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Vessels’ Trading Risks

 

 

If our vessels call on ports located in countries or territories that are the subject of sanctions or embargoes imposed by the United States government, the European Union, the United Nations, or other governmental authorities, it could lead to monetary fines or other penalties and have a material adverse effect on the market for our securities.

 

 

While none of our vessels called on ports located in countries or territories that are the subject of country-wide or territory-wide sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government or other authorities or countries identified by the U.S. government or other authorities as state sponsors of terrorism (“Sanctioned Jurisdictions”), and we endeavor to take precautions reasonably designed to mitigate such activities, it is possible that, on charterers’ instructions and without our consent, our vessels may call on ports located in Sanctioned Jurisdictions on charterers’ instructions and/or without our consent. If such activities result in a sanctions violation, we could be subject to monetary fines, penalties, or other sanctions, and our reputation and the market for our common shares could be adversely affected.

 

The applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities and may be amended or strengthened over time. Current or future counterparties of ours may be affiliated with persons or entities that are or may be in the future the subject of sanctions imposed by the U.S., the EU, and/or other international bodies. If we determine that such sanctions require us to terminate existing or future contracts to which we or our subsidiaries are party or if we are found to be in violation of such applicable sanctions, our results of operations may be adversely affected or we may suffer reputational harm.

 

Although we believe that we have been in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations. Any such violation could result in fines, penalties or other sanctions that could severely impact our ability to access U.S. capital markets and conduct our business, and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. In addition, certain institutional investors may have investment policies or restrictions that prevent them from holding securities of companies that have contracts with Sanctioned Jurisdictions and certain financial institutions may have policies against lending or extending credit to companies that have contracts with Sanctioned Jurisdictions. The determination by these investors not to invest in, or to divest from, our common shares or the determination by these financial institutions not to offer financing may adversely affect the price at which our common shares trade. Moreover, our charterers may violate applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations as a result of actions that do not involve us or our vessels, and those violations could in turn negatively affect our reputation. In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected if we engage in certain other activities, such as entering into charters with individuals or entities in countries or territories subject to U.S. sanctions and embargo laws that are not controlled by the governments of those countries or territories, or engaging in operations associated with those countries or territories pursuant to contracts with third parties that are unrelated to those countries or territories or entities controlled by their governments. Investor perception of the value of our common shares may be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries.

 

The smuggling of drugs, weapons or other contraband and stowaways on our vessels may lead to governmental claims against us.

 

We expect that our vessels will call in areas where smugglers attempt to hide drugs, weapons and other contraband on vessels or stowaways attempt to board, with or without the knowledge of crew members. To the extent our vessels are found with contraband or stowaways, whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew or charterers, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.

 

We are exposed to significant risks in relation to compliance with anti-corruption laws and regulations.

 

Our business entails numerous interactions with government authorities, including port authorities, health, safety, and environment authorities, labor and tax authorities and customs and immigration authorities. Furthermore, at our charterer’s direction, our vessels call at ports throughout the world, including in some countries where corruption is endemic. Although we have strict and adequate procedures prohibiting our employees or persons associated with us from making unlawful payments to government officials, we cannot guarantee that such payments may not be made despite our procedures and without our approval. In such case, such payments may be deemed to have violated anti-corruption laws potentially applicable to us, including the UK Bribery Act 2010 (the “Bribery Act”) and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”). Both civil and criminal penalties may be imposed on us as a result of violations of anti-corruption laws, and such penalties could have a material adverse impact on our reputation, business and financial condition.

 

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Risks inherent in the operation of containerships could impair the ability of the charterer to make payments to us, increase our costs or reduce the value of our assets.

 

 

Our containerships and their cargoes are at risk of being damaged or lost because of events such as marine accidents, bad weather, mechanical failures, human error, war, terrorism, piracy, environmental accidents and other circumstances or events. Any of these events connected to our vessels or other vessels under the charterer’s control, or any other factor which negatively affects the charterer’s business such as economic downturn and significant cyclical depression in the container shipping industry, could impair the ability of the charterer to make payments to us pursuant to our charters. Although the charterer is obligated to pay us charter hire regardless of the amount of cargo being carried on board, it is possible that generally low cargo volumes and low freight rates or events noted above may render the charterer financially unable to pay us its hire. Furthermore, there is a risk that a vessel may become damaged, lost or destroyed during normal operations and any such occurrence may cause us additional expenses to repair or substitute the vessel or may render us unable to provide the vessel for chartering, which will cause us to lose charter revenue.

 

These occurrences could also result in death or injury to persons, loss of property or environmental damage, loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts, governmental fines, penalties or restrictions on conducting business, higher insurance rates, and damage to our reputation and customer relationships generally. Any of these circumstances or events could increase our costs or lower our revenues, which could result in reduction in the market price of our common shares.

 

Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency without adequate compensation, which under most of our time charter agreements would permit the customer to terminate the charter agreement for that vessel.

 

 

A government of a vessel’s registry could requisition one or more of our vessels. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes its owner, while requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes its charterer at dictated charter rates. Generally, requisitions occur during periods of war or emergency, although governments may elect to requisition vessels in other circumstances. Although we would likely be entitled to compensation in the event of a requisition of one or more of our vessels, the amount and timing of payment would be uncertain. Additionally, under most of our time charter agreements, if a vessel is requisitioned, our customer has the option to terminate the charter agreement within 14 days of receipt of notice of the requisition. Government requisition of one or more of our vessels may negatively impact our revenues and cash flow.

 

If labor or other interruptions are not resolved in a timely manner, they could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and available cash.

 

 

 

In addition to providing services to us our technical managers are responsible for recruiting the senior officers and other crew members for our vessels. If not resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner, industrial action or other labor unrest or any other labor interruption, could prevent or hinder our operations from being carried out as we expect and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, operating results, distribution of dividends or the trading price of our common shares.

 

Reliability of suppliers may limit our ability to obtain supplies and services when needed.

 

We rely, and will continue to rely, on a significant supply of consumables, spare parts and equipment to operate, maintain, repair and upgrade our fleet of ships. Delays in delivery or unavailability of supplies could result in off-hire days due to consequent delays in the repair and maintenance of our fleet which would negatively impact our revenues and cash flows. Cost increases could also negatively impact our future operations.

 

Environmental and Safety Compliance Risks

 

 

Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may be costly and may adversely affect our business and operating results.

 

The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must conform to the rules and standards of a classification society approved by the vessel’s country of registry. Such societies set the rules and standards for the design, construction, classification, and surveys of vessels and conduct surveys to determine whether vessels are in compliance with such rules and standards. A certification by a society is an attestation that the vessel is in compliance with the society’s rules and standards. A vessel involved in international trade must also conform to national and international regulations on safety, environment and security, including (but not limited to) the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, or SOLAS, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. A vessel conforms to such regulations by obtaining certificates from its country of registry and/or a classification society authorized by the country of registry.

 

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A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys and special surveys. In lieu of a special or class renewal survey, a vessel’s machinery may be reviewed on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed over a five-year period. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Inspection by Classification Societies” for more information regarding annual surveys, intermediate surveys and special surveys. Bureau Veritas, DNV-GL & RINA, the classification societies for the vessels in our fleet, may approve and carry out in-water inspections of the underwater parts of our vessels once every three to five years, in lieu of drydocking inspections. In-water inspections are typically less expensive than drydocking inspections and we intend to conduct in-water inspections when that option is available to us.

 

If a vessel does not maintain its “in class” certification or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey or special survey, port authorities may detain the vessel, refuse her entry into port or refuse to allow her to trade resulting in the vessel being unable to trade and therefore rendering her unemployable. In the event that a vessel becomes unemployable, we could also be in violation of provisions in our charters, insurance coverage, covenants in our loan agreements and ship registration requirements and our revenues and future profitability would be negatively affected.

 

We are subject to regulation and liability under environmental laws that could require significant expenditures and affect our cash flows and net income.

 

Our business and the operation of our containerships are materially affected by environmental regulation in the form of international conventions, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which our containerships operate, as well as in the countries of their registration, including those governing the management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, the cleanup of oil spills and other contamination, air emissions, water discharges, ballast water management and vessel recycling. Because such conventions, laws and regulations are often revised, we cannot predict the ultimate cost or effect of complying with such requirements or the effect of such compliance on the current market value, resale price or useful life of our containerships. Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business, which may negatively impact our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, any future decarbonization technologies may increase our costs, or we may be limited in our ability to apply them to commercial scale.

 

Environmental requirements, including in response to emissions reduction and decarbonization, may also require a reduction in cargo capacity, ship modifications or operational changes or restrictions, lead to decreased availability of insurance coverage for environmental matters or result in substantial penalties, fines or other sanctions, including the denial of access to certain jurisdictional waters or ports or detention in certain ports. Under local, national and foreign laws, as well as international treaties and conventions, we could incur material liabilities, including cleanup obligations and natural resource damages, if there is a release of petroleum or other hazardous materials from our vessels or otherwise in connection with our operations. We could also become subject to personal injury or property damage claims relating to the release of hazardous materials associated with our operations, even if not carried as cargo.

 

In addition, in complying with existing environmental laws and regulations and those that may be adopted, we may incur significant costs in meeting new maintenance and inspection requirements and new restrictions on air emissions from our containerships, in managing ballast water, in developing contingency arrangements for potential spills and in obtaining insurance coverage. Government regulation of vessels, particularly in the areas of safety, security and environmental requirements, can be expected to become stricter in the future and require us to incur significant capital expenditures on our vessels to keep them in compliance, or even to scrap or sell certain vessels altogether. Substantial violations of applicable requirements or a catastrophic release of bunker fuel from one or more of our containerships could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. For additional information about the environmental regulations to which we are subject, please read “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations”.

 

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Increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders and other market participants with respect to our Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) policies may impose additional costs on us or expose us to additional risks.

 

Companies across all industries are facing increasing scrutiny relating to their ESG policies. Investor advocacy groups, certain institutional investors, investment funds, lenders and other market participants are increasingly focused on ESG practices, especially as they relate to the environment health and safety, diversity, labor conditions and human rights in recent years, and have placed increasing importance on the implications and social cost of their investments. The increased focus and activism related to ESG and similar matters may hinder access to capital, as investors and lenders may decide to reallocate capital or to not commit capital as a result of their assessment of a company’s ESG practices. Failure to adapt to or comply with evolving investor, lender or other industry shareholder expectations and standards or the perception of not responding appropriately to the growing concern for ESG issues, regardless of whether there is a legal requirement to do so, may damage such a company’s reputation or stock price, resulting in direct or indirect material and adverse effects on the company’s business and financial condition.

 

Moreover, from time to time, in alignment with our sustainability priorities, we may incur additional costs, establish and publicly announce goals and commitments in respect of certain ESG items. While we may create and publish voluntary disclosures regarding ESG matters from time to time, many of the statements in those voluntary disclosures are based on hypothetical expectations and assumptions that may or may not be representative of current or actual risks or events or forecasts of expected risks or events, including the costs associated therewith. Such expectations and assumptions are necessarily uncertain and may be prone to error or subject to misinterpretation given the long timelines involved and the lack of an established single approach to identifying, measuring and reporting on many ESG matters. If we fail to achieve or improperly report on our progress toward achieving our environmental goals and commitments, the resulting negative publicity could adversely affect our reputation and/or our access to capital.

 

Increased inspection procedures, tighter import and export controls and new security regulations could increase costs and cause disruption of our containership business.

  

International container shipping is subject to security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin, destination, and certain trans-shipment points. These inspection procedures can result in cargo seizure, delays in the loading, offloading, trans-shipment, or delivery of containers, and the levying of customs duties, fines and other penalties against us.

 

Since the events of September 11, 2001, U.S. authorities have substantially increased container inspections. Government investment in non-intrusive container scanning technology has grown and there is interest in electronic monitoring technology, including so-called “e-seals” and “smart” containers, which would enable remote, centralized monitoring of containers during shipment to identify tampering with or opening of the containers, along with potentially measuring other characteristics such as temperature, air pressure, motion, chemicals, biological agents and radiation. Also, as a response to the events of September 11, 2001, additional vessel security requirements have been imposed, including the installation of security alert and automatic identification systems on board vessels.

 

It is unclear what additional changes, if any, to the existing inspection and security procedures may ultimately be proposed or implemented in the future, or how any such changes will affect the industry. It is possible that such changes could impose additional financial and legal obligations on us. Furthermore, changes to inspection and security procedures could also impose additional costs and obligations on our customers and may, in certain cases, render the shipment of certain types of goods in containers uneconomical or impractical. Any such changes or developments could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends to our shareholders.

 

The operation of our vessels is also affected by the requirements set forth in the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code, or the ISPS Code. The ISPS Code requires vessels to develop and maintain a ship security plan that provides security measures to address potential threats to the security of ships or port facilities. Although each of our containerships is ISPS Code certified, any failure to comply with the ISPS Code or maintain such certifications may subject us to increased liability and may result in denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. Furthermore, compliance with the ISPS Code requires us to incur certain costs. Although such costs have not been material to date, if new or more stringent regulations relating to the ISPS Code are adopted by the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels (the “IMO”) and the flag states, these requirements could require significant additional capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.

 

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Sulfur regulations to reduce air pollution from ships are likely to require retrofitting of vessels and may cause us to incur significant costs.

 

From January 1, 2020, vessels must comply with the IMO mandated sulfur emission limit of 0.5% m/m on the sulfur in fuel oil used on board. The interpretation of “fuel oil used on board” includes use in main engine, auxiliary engines and boilers. This may be achieved by (i) using low sulfur fuel which may be at a higher cost that standard heavy fuel oil, (ii) installing scrubbers for cleaning of exhaust gas; or (iii) by retrofitting vessels to be powered by, for example, liquefied natural gas. The higher cost of low sulfur fuel is, in the first instance, borne by the vessel operator, our charterer, whereas the installation of scrubbers or retrofitting for an alternative fuel source, would in the first instance be borne by us as the vessel owner. Contrary to initial concerns, the availability of low sulfur fuel has not been an issue for the industry and, to date, the pricing spread between high- and low-sulfur fuels has been much tighter than originally anticipated. Nevertheless, costs of compliance going forward may be significant and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.

 

Climate change risks and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely impact our operations.

 

Due to concerns over the risks associated with climate change, a number of countries, the IMO and other regulatory organizations have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, regulatory frameworks to reduce greenhouse gas emission from ships. These regulatory measures may include the adoption of cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, increased efficiency standards, and incentives or mandates for renewable energy.

 

Maritime shipping is now included in the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (“EU ETS”) as of 2024 with a phase-in period. Broadly, it is the “shipping company” which is either the ship owner or the ISM party contractually mandated to assume responsibility for EU ETS compliance, that is required to purchase and surrender emission allowances that represent their MRV-recorded carbon emission exposure for a specific reporting period (the “EU ETS Responsible Entity”). As part of the phased approach shipping companies will be required to surrender 40% of their 2024 emissions in 2025; 70% of their 2025 emissions in 2026; and 100% of their 2026 emissions in 2027. An ETS costs clause is also being mandated which enables the shipping company to contractually pass on costs of ETS allowances to commercial operators. Compliance with the Maritime EU ETS will result in additional compliance and administration costs to properly incorporate the provisions of the Directive into our business routines. Additional EU regulations which are part of the EU’s Fit-for-55, such as the Fuel EU Maritime proposal, could also affect our financial position in terms of compliance and administration costs when they take effect. Effective January 1, 2024, we appointed Technomar, our technical ship manager, as the EU ETS Responsible Entity and amended our technical management agreements with Technomar to expand the scope of its responsibilities, accordingly.

 

Territorial taxonomy regulations in geographies where we are operating and are regulatorily liable, such as EU Taxonomy, might jeopardize the level of access to capital. For example, EU has already introduced a set of criteria for economic activities which should be framed as ‘green’, called EU Taxonomy. As long as we are an EU-based company meeting the NFRD prerequisites, we will be eligible for reporting our Taxonomy eligibility and alignment. Based on the current version of the Regulation, companies that own assets shipping fossil fuels are considered as not aligned with EU Taxonomy. The outcome of such provision might be either an increase in the cost of capital and/or gradually reduced access to financing as a result of financial institutions’ compliance with EU Taxonomy.

 

Emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping currently are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or any amendments or successor agreements. The Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015(which the United States rejoined in February 2021), which contemplates commitments from each nation party thereto to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit increases in global temperatures, did not include any restrictions or other measures specific to shipping emissions. However, restrictions on shipping emissions are likely to continue to be considered and a new treaty may be adopted in the future that includes additional restrictions on shipping emissions to those already adopted under MARPOL.

 

Any climate control legislation, or other regulatory initiatives that aim to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, may affect our business. Compliance with changes in laws, regulations and obligations relating to climate change may affect the propulsion options in subsequent vessel designs and could increase our costs related to acquiring new vessels, operating and maintaining our existing ships and require us to install new emission controls, require that we acquire allowances or pay taxes related to our greenhouse gas emissions or that we administer and manage a greenhouse gas emissions program. Among other things, these risks may also include increases in the pricing of greenhouse gas emissions, new reporting regulations (such as, for example, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, applicable for certain companies from 2024, see below), changes in legislation impacting existing products and services, costs of transitioning to lower-emission fuels and technologies, potential substitution or replacement of existing products and services, and stakeholder concerns and/or shifts in customer preferences which may have financial implications for our business and could lead us to retire existing assets prior to the end of the their currently-anticipated economic lives.

 

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For example, on March 6, 2024, the SEC adopted final rules to require registrants to disclose certain climate-related information in registration statements and annual reports. The final rules will require us to disclose, among other things, material climate-related risks, information about our Board of Directors’ oversight of climate-related risks, management’s role in managing material climate-related risks, and Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions. Compliance with these rules will be phased in over time based on our filing status as well as the content of the disclosure and assurance requirements. Although we are in the process of evaluating the new rules, compliance may result in increased legal, accounting, and other compliance-related costs, as well as place strain on our personnel, systems, and resources.

 

In addition to being exposed to the risk of legislative and regulatory change, our business is vulnerable to the underlying risks of climate change itself and may be directly or indirectly affected by climate-related changes such as rising sea levels, rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, volatile and extreme weather, demographic change, and heightened risk of conflict—all of which could lead, among other things, to reduced demand for our services, increased operating and/or capital costs, and increased insurance premiums.

 

For further discussion, please see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business—Environmental and Other Regulations”.

 

European mandatory non-financial reporting regulations.

 

On November 10, 2022, the EU Parliament adopted the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”). EU member states have 18 months to integrate it into national law. The CSRD will create new, detailed sustainability reporting requirements and will significantly expand the number of EU and non-EU companies subject to the EU sustainability reporting framework. The required disclosures will go beyond environmental and climate change reporting to include social and governance matters (for example, respect for employee and human rights, anti-corruption and bribery, corporate governance and diversity and inclusion). In addition, it will require disclosure regarding the due diligence processes implemented by a company in relation to sustainability matters and the actual and potential adverse sustainability impacts of an in-scope company’s operations and value chain. The CSRD will begin to apply on a phased basis starting from financial year 2024 through to 2028 to large EU and non-EU entities, subject to certain financial and employee thresholds being met. If the CSRD is applicable to us, we may incur significant costs, to prepare for and manage the administrative aspect of compliance with the CSRD.

  

Regulations relating to ballast water discharge that have been in effect since September 2019 may adversely affect our revenues and profitability.

 

The IMO has imposed updated guidelines for ballast water management systems specifying the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged from a vessel’s ballast water. Existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017, must comply with updated standards on or after September 8, 2019, with the exact date depending on the date of the next International Oil Pollution Prevention (“IOPP”) renewal survey. For most vessels, compliance with the standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water to eliminate unwanted organisms. Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 have been obligated to comply with the standards on or after September 8, 2017. We currently have 67 vessels which have a ballast water management system fitted and one vessel that does not.

 

Furthermore, United States regulations are currently changing. Although the 2013 Vessel General Permit (“VGP”) program and U.S. National Invasive Species Act (“NISA”) are currently in effect to regulate ballast discharge, exchange and installation, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018, requires that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) develop implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations regarding ballast water. On October 26, 2020, the EPA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Vessel Incident Discharge National Standards of Performance under VIDA, and in November 2020, held virtual public meetings, but a final rule has not been promulgated. The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs. Under VIDA, all provisions of the 2013 VGP and USCG ballast water regulations remain in force and effect as currently written until the EPA publishes standards and the corresponding Coast Guard regulations are published. The EPA will regulate these ballast water discharges and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of certain vessels within United States waters pursuant to VIDA. Several U.S. states have added specific requirements to the Vessel General Permit and, in some cases, may require vessels to install ballast water treatment technology to meet biological performance standards. Compliance with the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard and state regulations could require the installation of ballast water treatment equipment on our vessels or the implementation of other port facility disposal procedures at potentially substantial cost, or may otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters.

 

 The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs.

 

 

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Risks Relating to our Common Stock and Depositary Shares Representing Series B Preferred Shares

  

We cannot guarantee that our Board of Directors will declare dividends or otherwise return cash to shareholders.

 

Our Board of Directors may, in its sole discretion, from time to time, declare and pay cash dividends in accordance with our dividend policy or determine to return cash to shareholders in other ways, such as share repurchases. Our Board of Directors makes determinations regarding the payment of dividends in its sole discretion, and there is no guarantee that we will continue to declare and pay dividends in the future. The timing and amount of any dividends declared will depend on, among other things (a) our results of operations, financial condition, cash flow and cash requirements, (b) our liquidity, including our ability to obtain debt and equity financing on acceptable terms as contemplated by our vessel acquisition strategy, (c) restrictive covenants in our existing and future debt instruments and (d) provisions of Marshall Islands law. The declaration and payment of dividends is also subject at all times to the discretion of our Board of Directors.

 

The international containership and containership leasing industry is highly volatile, and we cannot predict with certainty the amount of cash, if any, that will be available for distribution as dividends in any period. Also, there may be a high degree of variability from period to period in the amount of cash, if any, that is available for the payment of dividends. The amount of cash we generate from operations and the actual amount of cash we will have available for dividends in each quarter will vary based upon, among other things:

 

 

the charter-hire payments we obtain from our charters as well as the rates obtained upon the expiration of our existing charters;

 

acquisition of additional vessels;

 

the timing of scheduled drydockings;

 

the timing of interest payments, scheduled debt amortization payments and other payments that might be due under our debt facilities;

 

delays in the delivery of newbuilding vessels, if any, and the beginning of payments under charters relating to those vessels;

 

the level of our operating costs, such as the costs of crews, lubricants and insurance;

 

the number of unscheduled off-hire days for our fleet and the timing of, and number of days required for, scheduled dry-docking of our containerships;

 

any idle time after one charter expires until a new charter is agreed or the vessel is disposed of, should a new charter not be agreed;

 

unexpected repairs to, or required expenditures on, vessels or dry-docking costs in excess of those anticipated;

 

the loss of a vessel;

 

prevailing global and regional economic and geopolitical conditions;

 

changes in interest rates;

 

the effect of governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards on the conduct of our business;

 

changes in the basis of taxation of our activities in various jurisdictions;

 

modification or revocation of our dividend policy by our Board of Directors; and

 

the amount of any cash reserves established by our Board of Directors.

 

The amount of cash we generate from our operations may differ materially from our net income or loss for the period, which will be affected by non-cash items. We may incur other expenses or liabilities that could reduce or eliminate the cash available for distribution as dividends or to be returned to shareholders in other ways.

 

In addition, Marshall Islands law generally prohibits the payment of dividends other than from surplus (retained earnings and the excess of consideration received from the sale of shares above the par value of the shares) or if there is no surplus, from the net profits for the current and prior fiscal years, or while a company is insolvent or if it would be rendered insolvent by the payment of such a dividend. We may not have sufficient surplus or net profits in the future to pay dividends, and our subsidiaries may not have sufficient funds, surplus or net profits to make distributions to us. As a result of these and other factors, we may not be able to pay dividends during periods when we record losses and may not pay dividends during periods when we record net income. We can give no assurance that dividends will be paid in the future or that cash will be returned to shareholders in other ways.

 

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The price of our securities may be volatile.

 

 

The price of our common shares and Depositary Shares representing Series B Preferred Shares may be volatile and may fluctuate due to factors such as:

 

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly revenues and results of operations and those of publicly held containership owners or operators;

 

market conditions in the industry;

 

perceived counterparty risk;

 

shortfalls in our operating results from levels forecasted by securities analysts;

 

announcements concerning us or other containership owners or operators;

 

mergers and strategic alliances in the shipping industry;

 

changes in government regulation including taxation; and

 

the general state of the securities markets.

 

The international containership industry has been highly unpredictable and volatile. The market for common shares and Depositary Shares representing Series B Preferred Shares in companies operating in this industry may be equally volatile.

 

We have anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents that may discourage a change of control.

 

 

Certain provisions of our Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation and Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws may have an anti-takeover effect and may delay, defer or prevent a tender offer or takeover attempt that a shareholder might consider in its best interest, including those attempts that might result in a premium over the market price for the shares held by shareholders.

 

Certain of these provisions provide for:

 

 

a classified Board of Directors with staggered three-year terms;

 

restrictions on business combinations with certain interested shareholders;

 

directors only to be removed for cause and only with the affirmative vote of holders of at least a majority of the common shares entitled to vote in the election of directors;

 

advance notice for nominations of directors by shareholders and for shareholders to include matters to be considered at annual meetings; and

 

a limited ability for shareholders to call special shareholder meetings.

 

These anti-takeover provisions could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if the third party’s offer may be considered beneficial by many shareholders. As a result, shareholders may be limited in their ability to obtain a premium for their shares.

 

We are subject to certain risks relating to the inability to obtain the minimum quorum established in our Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation and our Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws for the conduct of business at shareholder meetings.

 

Our Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation and Fourth Amended and Restated Bylaws require a quorum of the majority of our common stock outstanding in order to conduct business at any meeting of shareholders (including our annual meetings of shareholders). Due to the increased size and diversified nature of our shareholder base, it has become administratively more difficult to obtain the current quorum at shareholder meetings. Preparing proxy materials, including the printing and mailing of such materials to shareholders, together with proxy solicitation in order to reach the quorum requirement, is costly. Further, adjourning shareholder meetings for failure to obtain the requisite quorum also leads to increased costs. If we are unable to obtain the minimum quorum requirement to conduct business at shareholder meetings, we may be unable to take effectively conduct certain business.

 

Our management is required to devote substantial time to complying with public company regulations.

 

As a public company, we incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“Sarbanes-Oxley”) as well as rules subsequently adopted by the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”), including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, have imposed various requirements on public companies, including changes in corporate governance practices. Our directors, management and other personnel devote a substantial amount of time to comply with these requirements. Moreover, these rules and regulations relating to public companies increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time-consuming and costly.

 

Sarbanes-Oxley requires, among other things, that we maintain and periodically evaluate our internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. In particular, under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we are required to include in each of our annual reports on Form 20-F a report containing our management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and, if we are an accelerated filer or a large accelerated filer, a related attestation of our independent registered public accounting firm. While we did not identify any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal controls under the current assessment, we cannot be certain at this time that our internal controls will be considered effective in future assessments and that our independent registered public accounting firm would reach a similar conclusion. Therefore, we can give no assurances that our internal control over financial reporting will satisfy regulatory requirements in the future.

 

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We are a “foreign private issuer” under the NYSE rules, and as such we are entitled to exemption from certain NYSE corporate governance standards, and you may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.

 

 

We are a “foreign private issuer” under the securities laws of the United States and the rules of the NYSE. Under the securities laws of the United States, “foreign private issuers” are subject to different disclosure requirements than U.S. domiciled registrants, as well as different financial reporting requirements. Under the NYSE rules, a “foreign private issuer” is subject to less stringent corporate governance requirements. Subject to certain exceptions, the rules of the NYSE permit a “foreign private issuer” to follow its home country practice in lieu of the listing requirements of the NYSE.

 

 

Accordingly, you may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.

 

 

Future sales of our common stock could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

 

 

Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, may depress the market price for our common stock. These sales could also impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of our equity securities in the future.

 

 

Subject to the rules of the NYSE, in the future, we may issue additional shares of common stock, and other equity securities of equal or senior rank, without shareholder approval, in a number of circumstances. The issuance by us of additional shares of common stock or other equity securities of equal or senior rank would have the following effects:

 

 

our existing shareholders’ proportionate ownership interest in us may decrease;

 

the dividend amount payable per share on our common stock may be lower;

 

the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding share may be diminished; and

 

the market price of our common stock may decline.

 

Our shareholders also may elect to sell large numbers of shares held by them from time to time. The number of shares of common stock available for sale in the public market will be limited by restrictions applicable under securities laws, and agreements that we and our executive officers, directors and existing shareholders may enter into with the underwriters at the time of an offering. Subject to certain exceptions, these agreements generally restrict us and our executive officers, directors and existing shareholders from directly or indirectly offering, selling, pledging, hedging or otherwise disposing of our equity securities or any security that is convertible into or exercisable or exchangeable for our equity securities and from engaging in certain other transactions relating to such securities for a period of up to 180 days after the date of an offering prospectus without the prior written consent of the underwriter(s).

 

We may not have sufficient cash from our operations to enable us to pay dividends on or to redeem our Series B Preferred Shares, and accordingly the Depositary Shares, as the case may be.

 

 

We pay quarterly dividends on the Series B Preferred Shares, and accordingly the Depositary Shares, only from funds legally available for such purpose when, as and if declared by our Board of Directors. We may not have sufficient cash available each quarter to pay dividends. In addition, if our Board of Directors does not authorize and declare a dividend for any dividend period prior to the relevant dividend payment date, holders of the Series B Preferred Shares and accordingly the Depositary Shares would not be entitled to receive a dividend for that dividend period. However, any unpaid dividends will accumulate. In addition, we have the option to redeem the Series B Preferred Shares, and accordingly the Depositary Shares, although we may have insufficient cash available to do so or may otherwise elect not to do so.

 

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The amount of cash we can use to pay dividends or redeem our Series B Preferred Shares and the Depositary Shares depends upon the amount of cash we generate from our operations, which may fluctuate significantly, and other factors, including the following:

 

 

changes in our operating cash flow, capital expenditure requirements, working capital requirements and other cash needs;

 

the amount of any cash reserves established by our Board of Directors;

 

restrictions under Marshall Islands law as described below;

 

restrictions under our credit facilities and other instruments and agreements governing our existing and future debt as described below; and

 

our overall financial and operating performance, which, in turn, is subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to the risks associated with the shipping industry and the other factors (see “—Risks Related to our Business” above), many of which are beyond our control.

 

The amount of cash we generate from our operations may differ materially from our net income or loss for the period, which will be affected by noncash items, and our Board of Directors in its discretion may elect not to declare any dividends. We may incur other expenses or liabilities that could reduce or eliminate the cash available for distribution as dividends. As a result of these and the other factors mentioned above, we may pay dividends during periods when we record losses and may not pay dividends during periods when we record net income.

 

Our ability to pay dividends on and to redeem our Series B Preferred Shares is limited by the requirements of Marshall Islands law and by our contractual obligations.

 

 

Marshall Islands law provides that we may pay dividends on and redeem the Series B Preferred Shares only to the extent that assets are legally available for such purposes. Legally available assets generally are limited to our surplus, which essentially represents our retained earnings and the excess of consideration received by us for the sale of shares above the par value of the shares. In addition, under Marshall Islands law we may not pay dividends on or redeem Series B Preferred Shares if we are insolvent or would be rendered insolvent by the payment of such a dividend or the making of such redemption.

 

Further, the terms of our credit facilities may prohibit us from declaring or paying any dividends or distributions on preferred stock, including the Series B Preferred Shares, or redeeming, purchasing, acquiring or making a liquidation payment on preferred stock in certain circumstances.

 

 

Risks Related to Tax Matters

 

Our operating income could fail to qualify for an exemption from U.S. federal income taxation, which would reduce our cash flow.

 

We do not expect to be engaged in a U.S. trade or business. In the case of a foreign corporation that is not so engaged, the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), imposes a 4% U.S. federal income tax (without allowance of any deductions) on 50% of the corporation’s gross transportation income that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States, unless the corporation qualifies for the exemption provided in Section 883 of the Code or an applicable income tax treaty. The imposition of this tax could have a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Under the charter agreements, the charterer has agreed to provide reimbursement for any such taxes as the charterer determines where each vessel trades.

 

We will qualify for the exemption under Section 883 if, among other things, our stock is treated as primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market in the United States. However, under the relevant Treasury regulations, a class of stock will not be treated as primarily and regularly traded on an established securities market if, during more than half the number of days during the taxable year, one or more shareholders who actually or constructively own at least 5% of the vote and value of the outstanding shares of such class of stock (“5% Shareholders”), own, in the aggregate, 50% or more of the vote and value of the outstanding shares of such class of stock, unless a sufficient amount of stock is owned by 5% Shareholders that are considered to be “qualified shareholders” to preclude non-qualifying 5% Shareholders from owning 50% or more of the total value of the stock held by the 5% Shareholders group.

 

Generally, a 5% Shareholder is a qualified 5% Shareholder if the 5% Shareholder is an individual who is a resident of a qualified foreign country, the government of a qualified foreign country, a foreign corporation organized in a qualified foreign country that meets the “publicly-traded” test discussed herein, a non-profit organization organized in a qualified foreign country or an individual beneficiary (resident in a qualified foreign country) of a pension plan administered in or by a qualified foreign country. Generally, a foreign country is a qualified foreign country if it grants an equivalent exemption from tax to corporations organized in the United States.

 

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Based on information that we have as to our shareholders and other matters, we believe that we qualified for the Section 883 exemption for 2021 through 2023, under the “publicly-traded” test. Whether we may satisfy the “publicly-traded” test depends on factors that are outside of our control, and we cannot provide any assurances that we will or will not satisfy the “publicly-traded” test to claim exemption from U.S. taxation for 2024 or future taxable years. See Item “10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Taxation of Global Ship Lease—The Section 883 exemption” for a more comprehensive discussion of the U.S. federal income tax rules related to Section 883.

 

Under our charter agreements, our charterers have agreed to reimburse any such taxes. However, if our charterers do not provide such reimbursement, this could have a negative impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Certain adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences could arise for U.S. holders.

 

Shareholders of a “passive foreign investment company,” or PFIC, that are U.S. persons within the meaning of the Code (“U.S. shareholders”) are subject to a disadvantageous U.S. federal income tax regime with respect to the distributions they receive from a PFIC and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their shares in a PFIC (as discussed below). In addition, dividends paid by a PFIC do not constitute qualified dividend income and, hence, are ineligible for the preferential rate of tax that applies to qualified dividend income.

 

A foreign corporation is treated as a PFIC if either (1) 75% or more of its gross income for any taxable year consists of certain types of “passive income” or (2) 50% or more of the average value of the corporation’s assets produce or are held for the production of those types of “passive income”. For purposes of these tests, “passive income” includes dividends, interest and gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business; income derived from the performance of services does not, however, constitute “passive income”.

 

Based on the projected composition of our income and valuation of our assets, we do not expect that we will constitute a PFIC with respect to the current or any future taxable year, although there can be no assurance in this regard. Our expectation is based principally on the position that, for purposes of determining whether we are a PFIC, the majority, if not all, of the gross income we derive from our chartering activities should constitute services income rather than rental income.

 

In this regard, we have been advised by our tax advisor that the income from our time and voyage chartering activities should be classified as services income. There is, however, no direct legal authority under the PFIC rules addressing our current and projected future operations or supporting our position. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) will not assert that we are a PFIC with respect to any taxable year, nor that a court would not uphold any such assertion.

 

Further, in a case not concerning PFICs, Tidewater Inc. v. U.S., 2009-1 USTC ¶ 50,337, the Fifth Circuit held that a vessel time charter at issue generated rental, rather than services, income. However, the court’s ruling was contrary to the position of the IRS that the time charter income should be treated as services income. Subsequently, the IRS has stated that it disagrees with and will not acquiesce to the rental versus services distinction in the Tidewater decision, and in its discussion stated that the time charters at issue in Tidewater would be treated as producing services income for PFIC purposes. The IRS’s statement with respect to Tidewater cannot be relied upon or otherwise cited as precedent by taxpayers. Further, the facts in Tidewater are not directly analogous to our facts. No assurance can be given that the IRS or a court of law would accept our position, and there is a risk that the IRS or a court of law could determine that the company is a PFIC.

 

If the IRS were to determine that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year, our U.S. shareholders will face adverse U.S. tax consequences. Distributions paid by us with respect to our shares will not constitute qualified dividend income if we were a PFIC in the year we pay a dividend or in the prior taxable year and, hence, will not be eligible for the preferential rate of tax that applies to qualified dividend income. In addition, our U.S. shareholders (other than shareholders who have made a “qualified electing fund” or “mark-to-market” election) will be subject to special rules relating to the taxation of “excess distributions”—with excess distributions being defined to include certain distributions we may make on our Class A common shares as well as gain recognized by a U.S. holder on a disposition of our Class A common shares. In general, the amount of any “excess distribution” will be allocated ratably to each day of the U.S. holder’s holding period for our Class A common shares. The amount allocated to the current year and any taxable year prior to the first taxable year for which we were a PFIC will be included in the U.S. holder’s gross income for the current year as ordinary income. With respect to amounts allocated to prior years for which we were a PFIC, the tax imposed for the current year will be increased by the “deferred tax amount,” which is an amount calculated with respect to each prior year by multiplying the amount allocated to such year by the highest rate of tax in effect for such year, together with an interest charge as though the amounts of tax were overdue. See Item 10.E. “Additional Information—Taxation —Tax Consequences of Holding Class A common shares—Consequences of possible passive foreign investment company classification” for a more comprehensive discussion of the U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. shareholders if we were treated as a PFIC (including those applicable to U.S. shareholders who make a qualified electing fund or mark-to-market election).

 

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We may be subject to taxation on all or part of our income in the United Kingdom, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

If we or our vessel owning subsidiaries were considered to be a resident of the United Kingdom (or “UK”) or to have a permanent establishment in the United Kingdom, all or a part of our profits could be subject to UK corporate tax, which had a maximum rate of 21%, 20% and 20% for the years ended March 31, 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively, and 19% thereafter until the year ended March 31, 2023. From April 1, 2023, the main rate increases to 25% for profits above £250,000, with a small profits rate of 19% for companies with profits of £50,000 or less. Companies with profits between £50,000 and £250,000 will pay tax at the main rate, reduced by a marginal relief.

 

We and our vessel owning subsidiaries are centrally managed and controlled from outside the United Kingdom and have restricted activities within the United Kingdom. Certain intra-group services will have been provided from within the United Kingdom up to March 31, 2024 and UK corporate tax will be payable on the arm’s-length price for those services. The appropriate arm’s-length price in these circumstances may be subject to discussion with the UK taxing authorities.

 

We do not believe that we or our vessel owning subsidiaries are residents of the United Kingdom for UK tax purposes, or that we or our vessel owning subsidiaries have permanent establishments in the United Kingdom. However, because some administrative and executive services are provided to us or our vessel owning subsidiaries by a subsidiary company located in the United Kingdom and certain of our directors reside in the United Kingdom, and because UK statutory and case law does not outline specific activities that constitute a trade being carried on in the United Kingdom through a permanent establishment, the UK taxing authorities may contend that we or our vessel owning subsidiaries are subject to UK corporate tax on all of our income, or on a greater portion of our income than we currently expect to be taxed. If the UK taxing authorities made such a contention, we could incur substantial legal costs defending our position, and, if we were unsuccessful in our defense, our results of operations would be materially adversely affected.

 

We may be subject to taxes which will reduce our cash flow.

 

We and our vessel owning subsidiaries may be subject to tax in certain jurisdictions in which we are organized, own assets or have operations, which would reduce the amount of our cash available for distribution. In computing our tax obligations in these jurisdictions, we are required to take various tax accounting and reporting positions on matters that are not entirely free from doubt and for which we have not received rulings from the governing authorities. We cannot assure you that upon review of these positions, the applicable authorities will agree with our positions. A successful challenge by a tax authority, or a change in law in a jurisdiction in which we operate (including Cyprus and Hong Kong, where a number of our vessel owning subsidiaries are entered in the local tonnage tax regime), could result in additional tax imposed on us, further reducing the cash available for distribution.

 

Tax laws, including tax rates, in the jurisdictions in which we operate may change as a result of macroeconomic or other factors outside of our control. For example, various governments and organizations such as the European Union and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (the “OECD”) are increasingly focused on tax reform and other legislative or regulatory action to increase tax revenue. In January 2019, the OECD announced further work in continuation of its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project, focusing on two “pillars”. Pillar One provides a framework for the reallocation of certain residual profits of multinational enterprises to market jurisdictions where goods or services are used or consumed. Pillar Two consists of two interrelated rules referred to as Global Anti-Base Erosion Rules, which operate to impose a minimum tax rate of 15% calculated on a jurisdictional basis. In the third quarter of 2021, more than 130 countries tentatively signed on to a framework that imposes a minimum tax rate of 15%, among other provisions. Qualifying international shipping income is exempt from many aspects of this framework. The framework calls for law enactment by OECD and G20 members in 2022 to take effect in 2023 and 2024. On December 20, 2021, the OECD published model rules to implement the Pillar Two rules, which are generally consistent with agreement reached by the framework in October 2021. These changes, when enacted by various countries in which we do business, may increase our taxes in these countries. As this framework is subject to further negotiation, final approval by the G20, and implementation by each member country, the timing and ultimate impact of any such changes on our tax obligations are uncertain.

 

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Item 4.Information on the Company

 

 

A. History and Development of the Company

 

 

Our legal and commercial name is Global Ship Lease, Inc. We are a Republic of the Marshall Islands corporation that owns a fleet of mid-sized and smaller containerships which we charter out under fixed-rate charters to reputable container shipping companies.

 

The mailing address of our principal executive office is c/o GSL Enterprises Ltd., 9 Irodou Attikou Street, Kifisia, Athens 14561, Greece and our telephone number at that address is +30 210 6233670. Our agent in the United States is Puglisi & Associates, 850 Library Avenue, Suite 204, Newark, Delaware 19711. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The address of the SEC’s Internet site is www.sec.gov. Our website address is www.globalshiplease.com. None of the information contained on these websites is incorporated herein by reference or forms a part of this Annual Report. From time to time, we may use our website and social media outlets as channels of distribution of material company information. 

 

We were formed in 2007 pursuant to the Marshall Islands Business Corporations Act to purchase and charter back 17 containerships then owned or to be purchased by CMA CGM, at that time the third largest containership operator in the world by number of vessels. On August 14, 2008, we merged indirectly with Marathon and became listed on the NYSE on August 15, 2008.

 

On November 15, 2018, we completed a transformative transaction by which we acquired 20 containerships, one of which was contracted to be sold, which we refer to as the “Poseidon Transaction”. On the closing of the Poseidon Transaction, we issued as consideration 3,005,603 Class A common shares and 250,000 Series C Preferred Shares, which were converted to an aggregate of 12,955,188 Class A common shares in January 2021, and assumed debt in the amount of $509.7 million.

 

During 2021, we completed a series of vessel purchases, resulting in our acquisition of 23 additional vessels, and in 2023 we acquired an additional four containerships.

 

As of March 11, 2024, we owned 68 mid-sized and smaller containerships, ranging from 2,207 to 11,040 TEU, with an aggregate capacity of 375,406 TEU. 36 ships are wide-beam Post-Panamax. See “Item 4. Information on the Company-B. Business Overview”.

 

 

Class A Common Shares

 

On January 20, 2021, upon the redemption in full of our outstanding 9.875% First Priority Secured Notes due 2022 (the “2022 Notes”), KEP VI (Newco Marine) Ltd. and KIA VIII (Newco Marine) Ltd. (together, “Kelso”), both affiliates of Kelso & Company, a U.S. private equity firm, exercised their right to convert an aggregate of 250,000 Series C Perpetual Convertible Preferred Shares, representing all such shares outstanding, into Class A common shares of the Company, resulting in issuance of an aggregate of 12,955,188 Class A common shares to Kelso.

 

On January 26, 2021, we closed our fully underwritten public offering of 5,400,000 Class A common shares, at a public offering price of $13.00 per share, for gross proceeds of approximately $70.2 million, prior to deducting underwriting discounts, commissions and other offering expenses, and on February 17, 2021, we issued an additional 141,959 Class A common shares in connection with the underwriters’ partial exercise of their option to purchase additional shares (together, the “January 2021 Equity Offering”). The net proceeds we received in the January 2021 Equity Offering, after deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and expenses, were approximately $67.5 million. Following the closing of the January 2021 Equity Offering, we had 36,283,468 Class A common shares outstanding.

  

On April 13, 2021, Kelso and Maas Capital Investments B.V. sold an aggregate of 5,175,000 Class A common shares which they held in an underwritten public offering at $12.50 per share (including 675,000 Class A common shares that were sold pursuant to the underwriters’ exercise, in full, of their option to purchase additional shares). The Company did not receive any proceeds from this sale of Class A Common Shares.

 

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On May 10, 2021, our Board of Directors initiated a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per Class A Common Share, with effect from the first quarter of 2021, which increased to $0.375 per Class A common share, with effect from the first quarter of 2022.

 

On September 1, 2021, we announced the purchase and retirement of 521,650 Class A common shares for $10.0 million.

 

During the year ended December 31, 2021, 747,604 Class A common shares were issued under the 2019 Omnibus Incentive Plan (the “2019 Plan”).

 

As at December 31, 2021, there were 36,464,109 Class A common shares outstanding.

 

In March 2022, our Board of Directors authorized our repurchase of up to $40.0 million common shares, to be utilized on an opportunistic basis (our “Share Repurchase Program”). During the year ended December 31, 2022, we repurchased an aggregate of 1,060,640 Class A common shares under the Share Repurchase Program for an average purchase price of $18.87 per share, for a total of $20.0 million under the Share Repurchase Program.

 

During the year ended December 31, 2022, 586,819 Class A common shares were issued under the 2019 Plan.

 

As at December 31, 2022, there were 35,990,288 Class A common shares outstanding.

 

In July 2023, our Board of Directors replenished our Share Repurchase Program with the authorization of our repurchase of an additional $40.0 million of common shares. During the year ended December 31, 2023, we repurchased an aggregate of 1,242,663 Class A common shares at an average price of $17.68 per share, for a total of $22.0 million, and during the period from January 1, 2024 through the date of this annual report, we repurchased an aggregate of 242,372 Class A common shares for an average purchase price of $19.84 per share, for a total of $4.8 million. As of the date of this annual report, we have remaining approximately $33.2 million available for repurchases under the Share Repurchase Program.

 

During the year ended December 31, 2023, 440,698 Class A common shares were issued under the 2019 Plan.

 

As at December 31, 2023, there were 35,188,323 Class A common shares outstanding.

 

Depositary Shares

 

On August 20, 2014, we issued 1,400,000 Depositary Shares (the “Depositary Shares”), each of which represents 1/100th of one share of the Company's 8.75% Series B Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Shares (“Series B Preferred Shares”) representing an interest in a total of 14,000 Series B Preferred Shares, par value $0.01 per share, with a liquidation preference of $2,500.00 per share (equivalent to $25.00 per Depositary Share), priced at $25.00 per Depositary Share (NYSE:GSL-B). Dividends are payable at 8.75% per annum in arrears on a quarterly basis. At any time after August 20, 2019 (or within 180 days after the occurrence of a fundamental change), the Series B Preferred Shares may be redeemed, at our discretion, in whole or in part, at a redemption price of $2,500.00 per share (equivalent to $25.00 per Depositary Share).

 

On December 29, 2022, we entered into a new At Market Issuance Sales Agreement with B. Riley Securities, Inc. (the “Agent”), pursuant to which we may offer and sell, from time to time, up to $150.0 million of our Depositary Shares (the “New Depositary Shares ATM Program”). The Depositary Shares ATM Program terminated and replaced, in its entirety, the former At Market Issuance Sales Agreement, dated December 10, 2019, that we had in place with the Agent for the offer and sale, from time to time, up to $75.0 million of our Depositary Shares, which was fully utilized (the “Initial Depositary Shares ATM Program”). During the year ended December 31, 2021, we issued and sold approximately 3.0 million of our Depositary Shares, representing an interest in 29,592 Series B Preferred Shares, under the Initial Depositary Shares ATM Program. During the year ended December 31, 2022 and December 31, 2023, we have not issued or sold any Depositary Shares under the New Depositary Shares ATM Program.

 

As at December 31, 2023, 4,359,190 Depositary Shares were outstanding, representing an interest in 43,592 Series B Preferred Shares.

 

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Other Recent Developments

 

 

On June 20, 2023, we announced updates from three leading credit rating agencies. Our Corporate Credit Rating had been upgraded to Ba3 from B1, with a stable outlook, by Moody’s Investor Service. In addition, S&P Global Ratings revised our outlook to positive and affirmed its long-term issued credit rating at ‘BB’, and the Kroll Bond Rating Agency affirmed both our BB corporate rating with a stable outlook, as well as the BBB/stable investment grade rating and outlook for the $350.0 million 5.69% Senior Secured Notes due 2027.

 

On December 7, 2023, we announced that Ian Webber, our Chief Executive Officer, will retire from the position of Chief Executive Officer and will join our Board of Directors, effective March 31, 2024, expanding the size of our Board of Directors to nine members. Thomas Lister, our Chief Commercial Officer has been appointed to succeed Mr. Webber as CEO, effective concurrently with Mr. Webber’s retirement.

 

On February 12, 2024, we announced that our Board of Directors declared a dividend of $0.375 per Class A common share for the fourth quarter of 2023, that was paid on March 6, 2024 to common shareholders of record as of February 22, 2024. This follows dividends of $0.375 per Class A common share paid for each of the first, second and third quarters of 2023.

 

On March 4, 2024, we announced that our Board of Directors declared a dividend of $0.546875 per Depositary Share, scheduled to be paid on April 2, 2024 to all Series B Preferred Shareholders of record as of March 22, 2024.

 

 

B. Business Overview

 

Our Fleet

 

 

The table below provides certain information about our fleet of 68 containerships as of December 31, 2023, including charters agreed up to March 11, 2024:

 

 

 

   Vessel Name

 

Capacity in TEUs Lightweight (tons) Year Built Charterer Earliest Charter Expiry Date Latest Charter Expiry Date (2) Daily Charter Rate $
CMA CGM Thalassa 11,040 38,577 2008 CMA CGM 4Q25 2Q26 47,200
    ZIM Norfolk (1)   9,115 31,764 2015 ZIM 2Q27 4Q27 65,000
Anthea Y (1) 9,115 31,890 2015 MSC 3Q25 4Q25 Footnote (3)
ZIM Xiamen (1) 9,115 31,820 2015 ZIM 3Q27 4Q27 65,000
MSC Tianjin 8,603 34,325 2005 MSC 3Q27 4Q27 19,000 (4)
MSC Qingdao 8,603 34,609 2004 MSC 3Q27 3Q27 23,000 (4)
GSL Ningbo 8,603 34,340 2004 MSC 3Q27 4Q27 (5) Footnote (5)
GSL Alexandra 8,544 37,777 2004 Maersk 3Q25 3Q26 Footnote (6)
GSL Sofia 8,544 37,777 2003 Maersk 3Q25 3Q26 Footnote (6)
GSL Effie 8,544 37,777 2003 Maersk 3Q25 3Q26 Footnote (6)
GSL Lydia 8,544 37,777 2003 Maersk 2Q25 3Q26 Footnote (6)
GSL Eleni 7,847 29,261 2004 Maersk 3Q24 1Q25 16,500
GSL Kalliopi 7,847 29,105 2004 Maersk 3Q24 4Q24 18,900
GSL Grania 7,847 29,190 2004 Maersk 3Q24 1Q25 17,750
Mary (tbr Colombia Express) (1) (17) 6,927 23,424 2013 Hapag-Lloyd (7) 4Q28 1Q31 (7) Footnote (7)
Kristina (1) 6,927 23,421 2013 CMA CGM (7) 3Q29 4Q31 (7) 25,910 (7)
Katherine (1) 6,927 23,403 2013 CMA CGM (7) 2Q29 2Q31 (7) 25,910 (7)
Alexandra (1) 6,927 23,348 2013 CMA CGM (7) 2Q29 3Q31 (7) 25,910 (7)
Alexis (1) 6,882 23,919 2015 CMA CGM (7) 2Q29 3Q31 (7) 25,910 (7)
Olivia I (1) 6,882 23,864 2015 CMA CGM (7) 2Q29 3Q31 (7) 25,910 (7)
GSL Christen 6,840 27,954 2002 OOCL 3Q24 4Q24 20,500
GSL Nicoletta 6,840 28,070 2002 Maersk 3Q24 1Q25 35,750
CMA CGM Berlioz 6,621 26,776 2001 CMA CGM 4Q25 2Q26 37,750
Agios Dimitrios 6,572 24,931 2011 MSC 2Q27 3Q27 20,000 (4)
GSL Vinia 6,080 23,737 2004 Maersk 3Q24 1Q25 13,250
GSL Christel Elisabeth 6,080 23,745 2004 Maersk 2Q24 1Q25 13,250
GSL Dorothea 5,992 24,243 2001 Maersk 1Q25 3Q26 18,600 (8)
GSL Arcadia 6,008 24,858 2000 Maersk 1Q25 1Q26 18,600 (8)
GSL Violetta 6,008 24,873 2000 Maersk 4Q24 4Q25 18,600 (8)
GSL Maria 6,008 24,414 2001 Maersk 4Q24 1Q27 18,600 (8)
GSL MYNY 6,008 24,873 2000 Maersk 3Q24 1Q26 18,600 (8)
GSL Melita 6,008 24,848 2001 Maersk 3Q25 3Q26 18,600 (8)
GSL Tegea 5,992 24,308 2001 Maersk 3Q25 3Q26 18,600 (8)
Tasman 5,936 25,010 2000 Maersk 1Q25 1Q25 20,000 (9)
Zim Europe (tbr Dimitris Y) (17) 5,936 25,010 2000 ZIM 1Q24 2Q24 24,250
Ian H 5,936 25,128 2000 ZIM 2Q24 4Q24 32,500
GSL Tripoli 5,470 22,259 2009 Maersk 4Q24 4Q27 36,500 (10)
GSL Kithira 5,470 22,108 2009 Maersk 4Q24 1Q28 36,500 (10)
GSL Tinos 5,470 22,067 2010 Maersk 4Q24 4Q27 36,500 (10)
GSL Syros 5,470 22,098 2010 Maersk 4Q24 4Q27 36,500 (10)
Dolphin II 5,095 20,596 2007 OOCL 1Q25 3Q25 53,500
Orca I 5,095 20,633 2006 Maersk 2Q25 3Q25 21,000 (11)
CMA CGM Alcazar 5,089 20,087 2007 CMA CGM 3Q26 1Q27 35,500
GSL Château d’If 5,089 19,994 2007 CMA CGM 4Q26 1Q27 35,500
GSL Susan 4,363 17,309 2008 CMA CGM 3Q27 1Q28 Footnote (12)
CMA CGM Jamaica 4,298 17,272 2006 CMA CGM 1Q28 2Q28 Footnote (12)
CMA CGM Sambhar 4,045 17,429 2006 CMA CGM 1Q28 2Q28 Footnote (12)
CMA CGM America 4,045 17,428 2006 CMA CGM 1Q28 2Q28 Footnote (12)
GSL Rossi 3,421 16,420 2012 ZIM 1Q26 3Q26 36,474 (13)
GSL Alice 3,421 16,543 2014 CMA CGM 2Q25 2Q25 20,500
GSL Eleftheria 3,404 16,642 2013 Maersk 3Q25 4Q25 37,975
GSL Melina 3,404 16,703 2013 Hapag-Lloyd 2Q24 3Q24 21,000
GSL Valerie 2,824 11,971 2005 ZIM 1Q25 3Q25 32,939 (14)
Matson Molokai 2,824 11,949 2007 Matson 2Q25 3Q25 36,600
GSL Lalo 2,824 11,950 2006 MSC 1Q24 2Q24 17,500
GSL Mercer 2,824 11,970 2007 ONE 4Q24 2Q25 35,750
Athena 2,762 13,538 2003 Hapag-Lloyd 2Q24 2Q24 21,500
GSL Elizabeth 2,741 11,507 2006 Unifeeder 1Q24 2Q24 15,250
Beethoven (tbr GSL Chloe) (17) 2,546 12,212 2012 ONE 4Q24 1Q25 33,000
GSL Maren 2,546 12,243 2014  Swire 1Q24 1Q24 18,200
Maira 2,506 11,453 2000 Hapag-Lloyd 3Q24 4Q24 16,000
Nikolas 2,506 11,370 2000 Maersk 4Q24 4Q24 14,250 (15)
Newyorker 2,506 11,463 2001 CMA CGM 1Q24 3Q24 20,700
Manet 2,272 11,727 2001 OOCL 4Q24 2Q25 32,000
Keta 2,207 11,731 2003 CMA CGM 1Q25 1Q25 25,000
Julie 2,207 11,731 2002 MSC 2Q25 3Q25 Footnote (16)
Kumasi 2,207 11,791 2002 Wan Hai 1Q25 2Q25 38,000
Akiteta 2,207 11,731 2002 OOCL 4Q24 1Q25 32,000

 

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   (1)Modern design, high reefer capacity, fuel-efficient vessel.
   (2) In many instances charterers have the option to extend a charter beyond the nominal latest expiry date by the amount of time that the vessel was off hire during the course of that charter. This additional charter time (“Offhire Extension”) is computed at the end of the initially contracted charter period. The Latest Charter Expiry Dates shown in this table have been adjusted to reflect offhire accrued up to December 31, 2023 plus estimated offhire scheduled to occur during the remaining lifetimes of the respective charters. However, as actual offhire can only be calculated at the end of each charter, in some cases actual Offhire Extensions – if invoked by charterers – may exceed the Latest Charter Expiry Dates indicated.
   (3)Anthea Y. Chartered at a confidential rate
   (4)MSC Tianjin, MSC Qingdao and Agios Dimitrios were each forward fixed for minimum 36 months – maximum 38 months. The new charters are expected to commence between 2Q 2024 and 3Q 2024, after the vessels are drydocked, at confidential rates. MSC Qingdao & Agios Dimitrios are fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (“scrubbers”).
   (5)GSL Ningbo was chartered to MSC at $22,500 per day to 3Q 2023. Thereafter, the charter was extended by 48 to 52 months, at a confidential rate.
   (6)GSL Alexandra, GSL Sofia, GSL Effie and GSL Lydia delivered in 2Q 2023. Contract cover for each vessel is for a minimum firm period of 24 months from the date each vessel was delivered, with charterers holding one year extension options. The vessels are chartered at confidential rates.
   (7)Colombia Express (ex Mary), Kristina, Katherine, Alexandra, Alexis, Olivia I were forward fixed to Hapag-Lloyd for five years, followed by two periods of 12 months each at the option of the charterer. The new charter for Colombia Express (ex Mary) commenced in early 2024. The new charters for the remaining vessels are scheduled to commence as each of the existing charters expire, on a staggered basis, between approximately 2Q 2024 and late 2024, at confidential rates.
   (8) GSL Maria, GSL Violetta, GSL Arcadia, GSL MYNY, GSL Melita, GSL Tegea and GSL Dorothea. Contract cover for each ship is for a firm period of at least three years from the date each vessel was delivered in 2021, with charterers holding a one-year extension option on each charter (at a rate of $12,900 per day), followed by a second option (at a rate of $12,700 per day) with the period determined by – and terminating prior to – each vessel’s 25th year drydocking & special survey. GSL Arcadia, GSL Dorothea, GSL Tegea and GSL Melita charterer’s first options were exercised in 1Q 2024.
   (9)Tasman. Chartered from April 2024 at $21,500 per day in direct continuation.
(10)  GSL Tripoli, GSL Kithira, GSL Tinos, and GSL Syros. Ultra-high reefer ships of 5,470 TEU each. Contract cover on each ship is for a firm period of three years, from their delivery dates in 2021, at a rate of $36,500 per day, with a period of an additional three years (at $17,250 per day) at charterers’ option.
(11)Orca I. Chartered at $21,000 per day through to the median expiry of the charter in 2Q 2024. In 1Q 2024 the charterer exercised the option to extend the charter at the same rate to 2Q/3Q 2025.
(12)GSL Susan, CMA CGM Jamaica, CMA CGM Sambhar and CMA CGM America were chartered at confidential rates.
(13)GSL Rossi. Chartered at an average rate of $36,474 per day, $38,000 to 1Q 2025 and $35,000 for the remaining period.
(14)GSL Valerie. Chartered at an average rate of $32,939 per day, $36,000 to 1Q 2024 and $32,000 for the remaining period.
(15)Nikolas. Chartered to CMA CGM to 1Q 2024 at $16,750 per day; thereafter chartered to Maersk at $14,250 per day.
(16)Julie. Chartered at a confidential rate.
(17)“tbr” means “to be renamed”. On January 3, 2024, Mary was renamed to Colombia Express. On January 26, 2024, Beethoven was renamed to GSL Chloe. In 1Q 2024, Zim Europe will be renamed to Dimitris Y.

 

   

Fleet Development

 

 

As of December 31, 2023, our fleet consisted of 68 containerships with an aggregate capacity of 375,406 TEU and a TEU-weighted average age of approximately 17.2 years.

 

 

Vessel Acquisitions

 

In 2021, we purchased a total of 23 vessels. We purchased seven containerships of approximately 6,000 TEU each (the “Seven Vessels”) for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $116.0 million and we purchased 12 containerships from Borealis Finance LLC for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $234.0 million (the “Borealis Fleet”), of which $35.0 million was paid in the form of debt with the issuance of our 8.00% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2024 (“2024 Notes”) to the sellers.

 

 

In 2023, we purchased four containerships, each with a carrying capacity of 8,544 TEU, for an aggregate purchase price of $123.3 million, which were delivered to us in May and June 2023.

 

 

Vessel Disposals

 

We sold La Tour, a 2001-built, 2,272 TEU containership, on June 30, 2021, for net proceeds of $16.5 million. The net gain from the sale of vessel was $7.8 million.

 

 

We sold GSL Amstel, a 2008-built, 1,118 TEU containership, on March 23, 2023, for net proceeds of $5.9 million.

 

Time Charters

 

A time charter is a contract for the use of a vessel for a fixed period of time at a specified daily rate. Under a time charter, the vessel owner provides crew, lubricating oil, all maintenance and other services related to the vessel’s operation, the cost of which is included in the daily rate. The vessel owner is also responsible for insuring its interests in the vessel and liabilities as owner arising from its use. The charterer is responsible for substantially all of the vessel’s voyage costs, such as fuel (bunker) costs, canal fees, port expenses, extra war risk insurance costs if the vessel is deployed outside normal insurance limits and for entering areas which are specified by the insurance underwriters as being subject to additional premiums and cargo handling charges.

 

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The initial term for a time charter commences on the vessel’s delivery to the charterer. Time charter agreements may include options, in favor of the owner or the charterer, to extend the charter on pre-agreed terms. At the end of a charter, the vessel may be re-delivered by the charterer within a pre-agreed time window, to allow for operational flexibility. Charters may be extended on mutually agreed terms, or the vessel is re-delivered, in which case we would seek alternate employment with another charterer.

 

Our charters expire on different dates and over a period of time. We believe the staggered expirations of our charters reduces our exposure to rechartering risk and may mitigate the impact of the cyclical nature of the container shipping industry.

 

Daily Charter Rate

 

Daily charter rate refers to the gross amount per day payable by the charterer to the owner for the use of the vessel. It may be reduced by chartering commission payable to a broker or other party. Under our time charters, hire is payable to us typically every 15 days in advance and in U.S. dollars. The daily charter rate is a fixed daily amount that will remain the same for the duration of the charter, although the charter rate can be reduced in certain circumstances where there are added costs to the charterer due to vessel performance deficiencies in speed or fuel consumption. Hire can also be reduced, pro-rata for any cost savings that we may realize, if the vessel is laid up or idled at the charterers’ request.

 

Operations and Expenses

 

As owners, we are required to maintain each vessel in class and in an efficient state of hull and machinery and are responsible for vessel costs such as crewing, lubricating oil, maintenance, insurance and drydocking. The charterer is responsible for the voyage costs, which includes bunker fuel, stevedoring, port charges and towage. As described below, we have entered into ship management agreements to sub-contract the day-to-day technical management of our vessels.

 

Right of First Refusal

Pursuant to the terms of the one remaining initial time charter with CMA CGM, the charterer has a right of first refusal to purchase the vessel at matching terms to any offer of any third party if we decide to sell it during, or at the end of, the charter period. Should CMA CGM decline to exercise its right of first refusal in case of a sale during the charter period, we will be entitled to sell the vessel, subject to CMA CGM’s prior approval, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. CMA CGM has the right to reject a sale of the vessel to owners whose business or shareholding is determined to be detrimental or contrary to its interest. Under two other charters, CMA CGM has the right to participate in any competitive sales process for the underlying vessels undertaken either during, or at the end of, the corresponding charter period.

 

Off-hire

 

Under a time charter, when the vessel is not available for service, and is “off-hire”, the charterer generally is not required to pay charter hire (unless the charterer is responsible for the circumstances giving rise to the ship’s unavailability), and we are responsible for costs during any off-hire period, and possible additional costs of fuel to regain lost time. Additionally, in many cases the charterer has the option to extend the latest redelivery date by the off-hire days. A vessel generally will be deemed to be off-hire if there is an occurrence that affects the full working condition of the vessel, including:

 

 

any drydocking for repairs, maintenance or classification society inspection;

 

any damage, defect, breakdown or deficiency of the ship’s hull, machinery or equipment or repairs or maintenance thereto;

 

any deficiency of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew, including the failure, refusal or inability of the ship’s master, officers and/or crew to perform the service immediately required, whether or not within its control;

 

its deviation, other than to save life or property, which results in the charterer’s lost time;

 

crewing labor boycotts or certain vessel arrests; or

 

our failure to maintain the vessel in compliance with the charter’s requirements, such as maintaining operational certificates.

 

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Ship Management and Maintenance

 

Under each of our time charters, we are responsible for the operation and technical management of each vessel, which includes crewing, provision of lubricating oils, maintaining the vessel, periodic drydocking and performing work required by regulations. The day-to-day crewing and technical management of our vessels are provided by our ship managers pursuant to the terms of ship management agreements.

 

Termination and Withdrawal

 

Generally, if a vessel is off-hire for a significant number of consecutive days, then the charterer may cancel the charter without any further consequential claims provided the vessel is free of cargo. The number of these days varies from 20 to 90 days and depends on the relevant charter agreement. Some of our charters provide that we can in some circumstances provide a substitute vessel during an anticipated extended period of off-hire.

 

For a number of vessels chartered to CMA CGM, if a vessel’s fuel consumption exceeds a level specified in the charter over a continuous period of 30 days, and the reason is within our or the vessel’s control, CMA CGM may request that we cure the deficiency. If the deficiency is not cured within 30 days after we receive notice, then CMA CGM may terminate the charter.

 

Generally, if either party informs the other party of a default under the charter, and the default is not rectified within 60 days of such notice, then the party giving the notice has the right to terminate the time charter with respect to that vessel.

 

The charter will terminate in the event of a total (actual or constructive) loss of the vessel or if the vessel is requisitioned.

 

Management of Our Fleet

 

Our management team supervises the day-to-day technical ship management of our vessels, which is provided by Technomar, a company of which our Executive Chairman is the Founder, Managing Director, and majority beneficial owner, and the commercial ship management, which is provided by Conchart, a company of which our Executive Chairman is the sole beneficial owner.

 

Technical Management

 

Technomar provides us with all day-to-day technical ship management services, pursuant to a technical management agreement with each of our vessel-owning subsidiaries (as amended from time to time, the “TTMA”) for all of the vessels in our fleet. Six vessels, which were purchased by us in July 2021, were previously managed by another third-party ship manager with those management agreements terminating between May and July 2023 (the “Third-Party Managed Vessels”).

 

Under the ship management agreements, our ship managers are responsible for all day-to-day ship management, including crewing, purchasing stores, lubricating oils and spare parts, paying wages, pensions and insurance for the crew, and organizing other vessel operating necessities, including the arrangement and management of drydocking. We reimburse the ship managers for the costs they incur on our behalf. Each ship management agreement provides that we have the right to audit the accounts of our ship manager to verify the costs incurred. The ship managers have agreed to maintain our vessels so that they remain in class with valid certification. In addition, they are responsible for our current fleet’s compliance with all applicable government and other regulations, and compliance with class certifications. The ship managers are required to use their best endeavors to provide the services specified in the ship management agreements. Pursuant to the terms of the ship management agreements, we provide customary indemnification to the manager and its employees, agents and sub-contractors. 

 

We pay Technomar a daily management fee of Euro 785 from January 1, 2024, compared to Euro 750 for 2023, per vessel, payable in U.S. dollars, which, in addition to the technical ship management services noted above, includes administrative support services provided to us including accounting and financial reporting, treasury management and legal services. Commencing January 1, 2024, we will also pay Technomar a fee of EUR 7,500, per annum per vessel, pro rata, for the provision of additional services relating to our compliance with EU ETS requirements, such services including, among others, gathering emissions data, calculating emissions allowances, reporting verified emissions data to the relevant authorities, and managing EU ETS accounts on our behalf. Each TTMA has a minimum term of twenty-four months after the later to occur of the expiry of the charter for the applicable vessel or the credit facility (or other debt agreement) for which the applicable vessel serves as collateral, unless terminated earlier in accordance with the provisions of the TTMA. We expect that additional vessels that we may acquire in the future will also be managed under a TTMA on substantially similar terms. Please see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions — B. Related Party Transactions—Ship Management Agreements.”

 

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A separate third-party ship manager provided technical and crew services for the Third-Party Managed Vessels until the relevant management agreements were terminated between May and July 2023. While in effect, we paid $200,000 per annum per vessel for technical management services and $4,000 per month per vessel for crew services for these vessels. A termination payment of one-month fee per Third-Party Managed Vessel was made in connection with our termination of these management agreements.

 

In addition, each of our vessel-owning subsidiaries for the Third-Party Managed Vessels entered into a Supervision Agreement with Technomar, pursuant to which Technomar supervised the third-party manager in order to ensure the services are fulfilled as required under the third party management agreements. In addition, Technomar undertook the provision of Technical, Drydock, Insurance, Freight and Claims Handling Services as well as accounting, administrative & support services. Pursuant to the Supervision Agreements, we paid a supervision fee of $157.50 per day per vessel (effective from January 1, 2023), and $150.00 prior to January 1, 2023. The Supervision Agreements terminated at no cost when the underlying management agreements terminated between May and July 2023.

 

In March 2024, (effective January 1, 2024), we amended the TTMA for all of the vessels in our fleet to align with the EU ETS requirements. Within the amended agreement, Technomar shall be the responsible party for compliance with ETS. The amendment includes additional services such as the monitoring of the emissions data, reporting the verified emissions data to the EU and the IMO, opening, managing and monitoring the EU ETS trading account and the EU ETS compliance account, and performing a final reconciliation analysis.

 

Either party may terminate a ship management agreement in the event of default, which has not been cured, an order being made or a resolution being passed for the winding up, dissolution or bankruptcy of either party, or if a receiver is appointed, or if it suspends payment, ceases to carry on business or makes a special arrangement with its creditors. The ship management agreement will also terminate if the vessel becomes a total loss, is declared as a constructive or compromised or arranged total loss, is requisitioned or sold.

 

 

Commercial Management

 

Commercial management of vessels includes evaluating possible daily rate and duration of future employment, marketing a vessel for such employment, agreeing the detailed terms of a new charter or extension of an existing charter, administering the conduct of the charter including collection of charter-hire where necessary. Commercial management also includes negotiating sale and purchase transactions.

 

The commercial management of all of our vessels is provided by Conchart pursuant to a commercial management agreement (the “CCMA”). Under each CCMA, we have agreed to pay Conchart a commission of 1.25% on all monies earned under each charter fixture. No commission is payable on any charter of a vessel in our fleet to CMA CGM in place as of November 15, 2018, if applicable. However, commission is payable to Conchart for any extension of such charters after March 31, 2021. The CCMA also provides for Conchart to be the named broker in each memorandum of agreement (or equivalent agreement) for the sale of all vessels and purchase of some vessels, at a commission of 1.00% based on the sale and purchase price for any sale and purchase of a vessel. The CCMA, with respect to a vessel, has a minimum term of twenty-four months after the later to occur of the expiry of the charter for the applicable vessel or the credit facility (or other debt agreement) for which the vessel serves as collateral, unless terminated earlier in accordance with the provisions of the CCMA. We expect that additional vessels that we may acquire in the future will also be managed under a CCMA on substantially similar terms. Please see “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions — B. Related Party Transactions—Ship Management Agreements.”

 

Until January 20, 2021, Global Ship Lease Services Limited (“GSLS”), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, was the commercial manager for the 16 vessels provided as security under the 2022 Notes and an associated credit facility until the 2022 Notes were fully repaid on January 20, 2021, the associated credit facility having been fully repaid on October 31, 2020. GSLS had entered into a Commercial Advisory Services and Exclusive Brokerage Services Agreement (“EBSA”) with Conchart, whereby Conchart was appointed to provide commercial advisory and exclusive brokerage services on terms substantially similar to those of the described above.

 

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By mutual consent, the EBSA was terminated without penalty on the repayment of the 2022 Notes and the 16 vessels became subject to commercial management agreements directly with Conchart.

 

Pursuant to a Brokerage Services Agreement dated February 21, 2020 among the Company, each vessel owning subsidiary and GSL Enterprises Ltd (“GSL Enterprises”), GSL Enterprises has been engaged by the Company and the vessel owning subsidiaries to provide various brokerage, administrative and other services. GSL Enterprises receives a base fee of $1,300 per month per vessel plus supplemental fees. The Brokerage Services Agreement can be terminated by mutual agreement at any time or by either party in case of the other party’s breach of the terms of the agreement.

 

Insurance

 

We arrange for insurance coverage for each of our vessels, including hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance and war risk insurance. We are responsible for the payment of all premiums. See “—Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance.”

 

Inspection by Classification Societies

 

The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by the vessel’s country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974, or SOLAS Convention. Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage that a vessel be certified “in class” by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, the IACS. All of our vessels are certified as being “in class” by all the applicable Classification Societies.

 

For maintenance of the class, regular and extraordinary surveys of hull and machinery, including the electrical plant and any special equipment classed, are required to be performed as follows:

 

Annual Surveys

 

For seagoing ships, annual surveys are conducted for the hull and the machinery, including the electrical plant, and where applicable, on special equipment classed at intervals of 12 months from the date of commencement of the class period indicated in the certificate.

 

Intermediate Surveys

 

Extended annual surveys are referred to as intermediate surveys and typically are conducted two and one-half years after commissioning and each class renewal. Intermediate surveys may be carried out on the occasion of the second or third annual survey.

 

Class Renewal Surveys

 

Class renewal surveys, also known as special surveys, are carried out on the ship’s hull and machinery, including the electrical plant, and on any special equipment classed at the intervals indicated by the character of classification for the hull. During the special survey, the vessel is thoroughly examined, including audio-gauging to determine the thickness of the steel structures. Should the thickness be found to be less than class requirements, the classification society would prescribe steel renewals. Substantial amounts of funds may have to be spent for steel renewals to pass a special survey if the vessel experiences excessive wear and tear. In lieu of the special survey, which is generally every five years, a shipowner has the option of arranging with the classification society for the vessel’s hull or machinery to be on a continuous survey cycle, in which every part of the vessel would be surveyed within a five-year cycle. At a ship-owner’s application, the surveys required for class renewal may be split according to an agreed schedule to extend over the entire period of class. This process is referred to as continuous class renewal. All areas subject to surveys as defined by the classification society are required to be surveyed at least once per class period, unless shorter intervals between surveys are otherwise prescribed. The period between two consecutive surveys of each area must not exceed five years.

 

All vessels are also dry-docked at least once every five years for inspection of their underwater parts and for repairs related to such inspections. If any defects are found, the classification surveyor will issue a “recommendation” which must be rectified by the ship-owner within prescribed time limits.

 

If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

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The following table shows the classification societies for our vessels and lists the month by which they need to have completed their next drydocking.

 

Vessel Name Classification Society Drydocking Month(1)
CMA CGM Thalassa RINA Jul-27
ZIM Norfolk (ex UASC Al Khor) DNV-GL & RINA Jun-30
Anthea Y DNV-GL & RINA Mar-28
ZIM Xiamen (ex Maira XL) DNV-GL & RINA Feb-28
MSC Tianjin RINA Mar-25
MSC Qingdao Bureau Veritas Apr-24
GSL Ningbo Bureau Veritas May-24
GSL Alexandra RINA Jul-28
GSL Sofia RINA May-28
GSL Effie RINA Sep-28
GSL Lydia RINA Mar-28
GSL Eleni DNV-GL Jul-24
GSL Kalliopi DNV-GL Oct-24
GSL Grania DNV-GL Sep-24
Mary (tbr Colombia Express) RINA Jan-29
Kristina DNV-GL Jul-25
Katherine RINA Apr-25
Alexandra RINA Aug-25
Alexis DNV-GL & RINA Jan-25
Olivia I DNV-GL & RINA Feb-25
GSL Christen RINA Dec-27
GSL Nicoletta RINA May-28
CMA CGM Berlioz Bureau Veritas Jul-26
Agios Dimitrios Bureau Veritas Feb-26
GSL Vinia Bureau Veritas Oct-24
GSL Christel Elisabeth Bureau Veritas Sep-24
GSL Dorothea RINA May-26
GSL Arcadia DNV-GL Dec-25
GSL Violetta DNV-GL Aug-25
GSL Maria RINA Dec-26
GSL MYNY DNV-GL Oct-25
GSL Melita RINA May-26
GSL Tegea RINA Jun-26
Tasman Bureau Veritas Jan-25
ZIM Europe (tbr Dimitris Y) Bureau Veritas May-25
Ian H Bureau Veritas Jul-25
GSL Tripoli RINA May-28
GSL Kithira RINA Jan-28
GSL Tinos RINA Jul-28
GSL Syros RINA Apr-28
Dolphin II Bureau Veritas Jan-27
Orca I Bureau Veritas Nov-26
CMA CGM Alcazar Bureau Veritas Nov-27
GSL Château d’If Bureau Veritas Dec-27
GSL Susan RINA May-28
CMA CGM Jamaica DNV-GL Sep-26
CMA CGM Sambhar RINA Jul-26
CMA CGM America RINA Sep-26
GSL Rossi RINA Mar-27
GSL Alice RINA Mar-29
GSL Eleftheria RINA May-28
GSL Melina RINA Nov-28
GSL Valerie DNV-GL Jun-25
Matson Molokai RINA Feb-25
GSL Lalo RINA Jun-26
GSL Mercer RINA May-27
Athena RINA Feb-28
GSL Elizabeth RINA Mar-26
Beethoven (tbr GSL Chloe) RINA Jan-25
GSL Maren RINA In progress
Maira RINA Aug-25
Nikolas RINA Aug-25
Newyorker RINA Jan-26
Manet Bureau Veritas Oct-26
Keta Bureau Veritas Nov-26
Julie RINA Nov-27
Kumasi Bureau Veritas Feb-27
Akiteta Bureau Veritas Jan-27

 

(1)Expected month of drydocking assumes that the vessel qualifies for in-water inspections at the intermediate survey.

 

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The table does not take account of discretionary drydockings to effect vessel upgrades, or in response to proposed or actual regulatory changes such as for ballast water treatment.

 

Competition

 

We operate in markets that are highly competitive. We expect to compete for vessel purchases and charters based upon price, customer relationships, operating expertise, professional reputation and size, age and condition of the vessel. We also expect to compete with many other companies, both other owners and operators to, among other things, purchase newbuildings and secondhand vessels to grow our fleet.

 

We expect substantial competition in obtaining new containership charters from a number of experienced and substantial companies. Many of these competitors may have greater financial resources than us, may operate larger fleets, may have been established for longer and may be able to offer better charter rates. Due to the recent industry downturn, there have been an increased number of vessels available for charter, including many from owners with strong reputations and experience. Excess supply of vessels in the container shipping market results in a more active short-term charter market and greater price competition for charters. As a result of these factors, we may be unable to purchase additional containerships, expand our relationships with existing customers or obtain new charterers on a profitable basis, if at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

Permits and Authorizations

 

We are required by various governmental and other agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses and certificates with respect to our vessels. The kinds of permits, licenses and certificates required depend upon several factors, including the commodities transported, the waters in which the vessel operates, the nationality of the vessel’s crew and the age of a vessel. Not all of the permits, licenses and certificates currently required to operate the vessels globally have been obtained by us or our ship managers. For example, Keta, Julie, Kumasi and Akiteta have not been certified to comply with all U.S., Canadian and Panama Canal regulations, as our charterers do not intend to operate them in these waters. However, permits can be obtained in case charterers wish to trade the vessels in USA Canada and/or transit Panama Canal.

 

Environmental and Other Regulations

 

Government regulation significantly affects our business and the operation of our vessels. We are subject to international conventions and codes, and national, state, and local laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered, including, among others, those governing the generation, management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, the cleanup of oil spills and other contamination, air emissions and water discharges. Because such laws and regulations frequently change, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with these requirements or the impact of these requirements on the resale or current market value or useful lives of our vessels.

 

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A variety of government, quasi-government and private entities require us to obtain permits, licenses or certificates for the operation of our vessels. Failure to maintain necessary permits or approvals could require us to incur substantial costs or temporarily suspend the operation of one or more of our vessels in one or more ports.

 

Increasing environmental concerns have created a demand for vessels that conform to the strictest environmental standards. We are required to maintain operating standards for all of our vessels that emphasize operational safety, quality maintenance, continuous training of our officers and crews and compliance with United States and international regulations and with flag state administrations.

 

The following is an overview of certain material governmental regulations that affect our business and the operation of our vessels.

 

International Maritime Organization

 

The IMO is the United Nations’ agency for maritime safety. The IMO has adopted international conventions that impose liability for pollution in international waters and a signatory’s territorial waters. For example, the IMO’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, or MARPOL, imposes environmental standards on the shipping industry relating to, among other things, pollution prevention and procedures, technical standards, oil spills management, transportation of marine pollutants and air emissions.

 

Annex VI of MARPOL, which regulates air pollution from vessels, sets limits on sulfur oxide (or NOx), nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions from vessel exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons. We believe all of our vessels currently are Annex VI compliant. Annex VI also includes a global cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil with a lower cap (currently 0.1%) on the sulfur content applicable inside Emission Control Areas, or ECAs. Existing ECAs include the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, including the English Channel, the North American area and the U.S. Caribbean Sea area. Recently at the MEPC78, the IMO approved a proposal for a new ECA in the Mediterranean. As such, effective May 1, 2025, amendments designating the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an ECA for sulfur oxides and particular matter enter into effect. Other areas in China are subject to local regulations that impose stricter emission controls. Additional geographical areas may be designated as ECAs in the future. If other ECAs are approved by the IMO or other new or more stringent requirements relating to emissions from marine diesel engines or port operations by vessels are adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, or the states where we operate, compliance with these regulations could entail significant capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.

 

Annex VI establishes tiers of stringent nitrogen oxide emissions standards for marine diesel engines, depending on their date of installation. Now Annex VI provides for a three-tier reduction in NOx emissions from marine diesel engines, with the final tier (or Tier III) to apply to engines installed on vessels constructed on or after January 1, 2016 and which operate in the North American ECA or the U.S. Caribbean Sea ECA as well as ECAs designated in the future by the IMO. At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, the MEPC approved the North Sea and Baltic Sea as ECAs for nitrogen oxide (also known as NECAs) for ships built after January 1, 2021. The EPA promulgated equivalent (and in some senses stricter) emissions standards in late 2009. Additionally, amendments to Annex II, which strengthen discharge requirements for cargo residues and tank washings in specified sea areas (including North West European waters, Baltic Sea area, Western European waters and Norwegian Sea), came into effect in January 2021. Additional ECAs could be established in the future.

 

From January 1, 2020, the IMO mandated global sulfur cap of 0.5% m/m was implemented. Vessels comply either by being fitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems (“scrubbers”), allowing the vessel to continue to use less expensive, higher sulfur content fuel or by burning more expensive, low sulfur fuel. From March 1, 2020, vessels not fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers cannot have high sulfur content fuel on board.

 

Our existing time charters call for our customers to supply fuel that complies with Annex VI. It may be that charterers of certain of our vessels will seek to comply with Annex VI by agreeing with us to have exhaust gas cleaning systems installed.

 

These amendments or other changes could require modifications to our vessels to achieve compliance, and the cost of compliance may be significant to our operations. 

 

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The IMO has also adopted technical and operational measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vessels. These include the “Energy Efficiency Design Index,” which is mandatory for newbuilding vessels, and the “Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan,” which is mandatory for all vessels. Under these measures, by 2025, all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014. The IMO now requires ships of 5,000 gross tonnage, or grt, or more to record and report their fuel consumption to their flag state at the end of each calendar year. The IMO plans to use this data to adopt an initial greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy.

 

The IMO’s International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, or the Bunker Convention, imposes, subject to limited exceptions, strict liability on vessel owners for pollution damage in jurisdictional waters of ratifying states, which does not include the United States, caused by discharges of “bunker oil.” The Bunker Convention also requires owners of registered vessels over a certain size to maintain insurance for pollution damage in an amount generally equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime. With respect to non-ratifying states, liability for spills or releases of oil carried as fuel in a ship’s bunkers typically is determined by the national or other domestic laws in the jurisdiction where the events or damages occur on a fault or strict-liability basis. We believe our vessels comply with the Bunker Convention. Ships are required to maintain a certificate attesting that they maintain adequate insurance to cover an incident. In jurisdictions such as the United States where the Bunker Convention has not been adopted, various legislative schemes or common law govern, and liability is imposed either on the basis of fault or on a strict-liability basis.

 

The IMO’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, or the BWM Convention, requires the installation of ballast water treatment systems on certain newbuilding vessels for which the keel is laid after September 8, 2017 and for existing vessels at the renewal of their International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate after September 8, 2019. The MEPC adopted updated guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) at MEPC 70. At MEPC 71, the schedule regarding the BWM Convention’s implementation dates was also discussed and amendments were introduced to extend the date existing vessels are subject to certain ballast water standards. Those changes were adopted at MEPC 72. Ships over 400 gross tons generally must comply with a “D-1 standard,” requiring the exchange of ballast water only in open seas and away from coastal waters. The “D-2 standard” specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, and compliance dates vary depending on the IOPP renewal dates. Depending on the date of the IOPP renewal survey, existing vessels must comply with the D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019. For most ships, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. Ballast water management systems, which include systems that make use of chemical, biocides, organisms or biological mechanisms, or which alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the ballast water, must be approved in accordance with IMO Guidelines (Regulation D-3). As of October 13, 2019, MEPC 72’s amendments to the BWM Convention took effect, making the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which governs assessment of ballast water management systems, mandatory rather than permissive, and formalized an implementation schedule for the D-2 standard. Under these amendments, all ships must meet the D-2 standard by September 8, 2024. Costs of compliance with these regulations may be substantial. The BWM Convention also requires ships to carry an approved ballast water management plan, record books and statement of compliance. Additionally, in November 2020, MEPC 75 adopted amendments to the BWM Convention which would require a commissioning test of the ballast water management system for the initial survey or when performing an additional survey for retrofits. This analysis will not apply to ships that already have an installed BWM system certified under the BWM Convention. These amendments became effective on June 1, 2022. We will be required to incur significant costs to install these ballast water treatment systems on all our vessels before the applicable due dates.

 

The IMO’s International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships, or the “Anti-fouling Convention,” prohibits the use of organotin compound coatings to prevent the attachment of mollusks and other sea life to the hulls of vessels and requires vessels over 400 grt engaged in international voyages to undergo an initial survey before the vessel is put into service or before an International Anti fouling System Certificate is issued for the first time, or subsequent surveys when the anti-fouling systems are altered or replaced. In 2023, MEPC 75 approved draft amendments to the Anti-fouling Convention will come into effect and will include controls on the biocide cybutryne; ships shall not apply or re-apply anti-fouling systems containing this substance from January 1, 2023. The amendments require ships to remove this substance, or apply a coating to anti-fouling systems with this substance at the next scheduled renewal of the anti-fouling system after January 1, 2023. We have obtained Anti-fouling System Certificates for all of our vessels that are subject to the Anti-fouling Convention. MEPC 77 adopted a non-binding resolution which urges Member States and ship operators to voluntarily use distillate or other cleaner alternative fuels or methods of propulsion that are safe for ships and could contribute to the reduction of Black Carbon emissions from ships when operating in or near the Arctic.

 

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Amendments to MARPOL Annex V (regulation for the prevention of pollution by garbage from ships) adopted at MEPC 70 entered into force on March 1, 2018. The changes include criteria for determining whether cargo residues are harmful to the marine environment, and a new Garbage Record Book format with a new garbage category for e-waste. As all our existing containerships are compliant with MARPOL Annex V requirements, the amendments could cause us to incur additional operational costs for the handling of garbage produced on our fleet.

 

The IMO also regulates vessel safety. The International Safety Management Code, or the ISM Code, provides an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships and for pollution prevention. The ISM Code requires our vessels to develop and maintain an extensive “Safety Management System” that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy and implementation procedures. A Safety Management Certificate is issued under the provisions of the SOLAS Convention to each vessel with a Safety Management System verified to be in compliance with the ISM Code. No vessel can obtain a safety management certificate unless its manager has been awarded a document of compliance, issued by each flag state, under the ISM Code. Failure to comply with the ISM Code may subject a party to increased liability, may decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels, and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. All of the vessels in our fleet are ISM Code-certified. Furthermore, all seafarers are required to meet the standards of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, or STCW, and be in possession of a valid STCW certificate. Flag states that have ratified the SOLAS Convention and STCW generally employ the classification societies to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.

 

Furthermore, recent action by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and United States agencies indicate that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats. For example, under the IMO’s Resolution MSC.428(98), cyber risks must be appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems no later than the first annual verification of a company’s Document of Compliance after January 1, 2021. This might cause companies to create additional procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which could require additional expenses and/or capital expenditures.

 

Increasingly, various regions are adopting additional, unilateral requirements on the operation of vessels in their territorial waters. These regulations, such as those described below, apply to our vessels when they operate in the relevant regions’ waters and can add to operational and maintenance costs, as well as increase the potential liability that applies to violations of the applicable requirements.

 

United States

 

The United States Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and CERCLA

 

 

The United States Oil Pollution Act of 1990, (“OPA”), establishes an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, (“CERCLA”), governs spills or releases of hazardous substances other than petroleum or petroleum products. Under OPA and CERCLA, vessel owners, operators and bareboat charterers whose vessels trade or operate within the U.S., its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in U.S. waters, which includes the U.S.’s territorial sea and its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the U.S., are jointly and, subject to limited exceptions, strictly liable for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil or hazardous substances, as applicable, from their vessels. OPA and CERCLA define these damages broadly to include certain direct and indirect damages and losses, including but not limited to assessment of damages, remediation, damages to natural resources such as fish and wildlife habitat, and agency oversight costs. Although our vessels do not carry oil as cargo, they do carry oil as bunkers, or fuel.

 

Under OPA and CERCLA, the liability of responsible parties is limited to a specified amount, which is periodically updated. On December 23, 2022, the USCG adjusted the limits of OPA liability for non-tank vessels to the greater of $1,300 per gross ton or $1,076,000  (subject to periodic adjustment for inflation). These limits of liability do not apply if an incident was proximately caused by the violation of an applicable U.S. federal safety, construction or operating regulation by a responsible party (or its agent, employee or a person acting pursuant to a contractual relationship), or a responsible party's gross negligence or willful misconduct. CERCLA contains a similar liability regime whereby owners and operators of vessels are liable for clean-up, removal and remedial costs, as well as damages for injury to, or destruction or loss of, natural resources, including the reasonable costs associated with assessing the same, and health assessments or health effects studies. There is no liability if the discharge of a hazardous substance results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war. Liability under CERCLA is limited to the greater of $300 per gross ton or $5.0 million for vessels carrying a hazardous substance as cargo and the greater of $300 per gross ton or $500,000 for any other vessel. Liability limits do not apply under OPA if the responsible party fails or refuses to report the incident where the responsible party knows or has reason to know of the incident or reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities or comply with an order issued under the U.S. Federal Water Pollution Act or Intervention of the High Seas Act, or under CERCLA if the responsible person fails or refused to provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance as requested in connection with response activities where the vessel is subject to OPA. Under both OPA and CERCLA, liability is unlimited if the incident is caused by gross negligence, willful misconduct or a violation of certain regulations.

 

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We maintain pollution liability coverage insurance in the amount of $1 billion per incident for each of our vessels. If the damages from a catastrophic spill were to exceed our insurance coverage it could harm our business, financial condition and results of operation. Vessel owners and operators must establish and maintain with the U.S. Coast Guard evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet their potential aggregate liabilities under OPA and CERCLA. Evidence of financial responsibility may be demonstrated by showing proof of insurance, surety bonds, self-insurance or guarantees. We have obtained the necessary U.S. Coast Guard financial assurance certificates, or COFRs, for each of our vessels currently in service and trading to the United States. Owners or operators of certain vessels operating in U.S. waters also must prepare and submit to the U.S. Coast Guard a response plan for each vessel, which plan, among other things, must address a “worst case” scenario environmental discharge and describe crew training and drills to address any discharge. Each of our vessels has the necessary response plans in place.

 

OPA and CERCLA do not prohibit individual states from imposing their own liability regimes with regard to oil pollution or hazardous substance incidents occurring within their boundaries, and some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for spills. In some cases, states that have enacted such legislation have not yet issued implementing regulations defining vessel owners’ responsibilities under these laws. We intend to comply with all applicable state regulations in the ports where our vessels call. Nevertheless, future changes to OPA, CERCLA and other United States environmental regulations could adversely affect our operations.

 

Clean Water Act

 

The Clean Water Act, or CWA, establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the “waters of the United States” and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The CWA authorizes civil and criminal penalties for discharging pollutants without a permit, failure to meet any requirement of a permit, and also allows for citizen suits against violators. The CWA imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges, and substantial liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages and complements the remedies available under OPA and CERCLA. In 2015, the EPA expanded the definition of waters of the United States (“WOTUS”), thereby expanding federal authority under the CWA. On December 30, 2022, the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the final revised WOTUS rule, which was published on January 18, 2023. In August 2023, the EPA and Department of the Army issued a final rule to amend the revised WOTUS definition to conform the definition of WOTUS to the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act in its decision dated May 25, 2023. This final rule became effective September 8, 2023 and operates to limit the Clean Water Act.

 

The EPA and the USCG have also enacted rules relating to ballast water discharge, compliance with which requires the installation of equipment on our vessels to treat ballast water before it is discharged or the implementation of other port facility disposal arrangements or procedures at potentially substantial costs, and/or otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. Waters. The EPA will regulate these ballast water discharges and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of certain vessels within United States waters pursuant to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (“VIDA”), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018 and requires that the U.S. Coast Guard develop implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations regarding ballast water. On October 26, 2020, the EPA published a Notice of Proposed rulemaking for Vessel Incidental Discharge National Standards of Performance under VIDA, and in November 2020, held virtual public meetings, but a final rule has not been promulgated. Under VIDA, all provisions of the 2013 VGP and USCG ballast water regulations remain in force and effect as currently written until the EPA publishes standards. Several U.S. states have added specific requirements to the Vessel General Permit and, in some cases, may require vessels to install ballast water treatment technology to meet biological performance standards. In addition, several U.S. states have added specific requirements to the VGP, including submission of a Notice of Intent, or NOI, or retention of a PARI form and submission of annual reports. Compliance with the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard and state regulations could require the installation of ballast water treatment equipment on our vessels or the implementation of other port facility disposal procedures at potentially substantial cost, or may otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters.

 

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Non-military, non-recreational vessels greater than 79 feet in length must continue to comply with the requirements of the VGP. Under the U.S. National Invasive Species Act, or NISA, newbuilding vessels constructed after December 1, 2013 are required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved ballast water treatment system installed, and existing vessels, are required to have a ballast water treatment system installed on the first scheduled dry-dock after January 1, 2016. Compliance with the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard and state regulations could require the installation of ballast water treatment equipment on our vessels or the implementation of other port facility disposal procedures at potentially substantial cost, or may otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters.

 

In addition, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, or APPS, implements various provisions of MARPOL and applies to larger foreign-flag ships when operating in U.S. waters. The regulatory mechanisms established in APPS to implement MARPOL are separate and distinct from the CWA and other federal environmental laws. Civil and criminal penalties may be assessed under APPS for non-compliance.

 

Additional Ballast Water Regulations

 

The U.S. Coast Guard regulations also require vessels to maintain a vessel-specific ballast water management plan that addresses training and safety procedures, fouling maintenance and sediment removal procedures. Individual U.S. states have also enacted laws to address invasive species through ballast water and hull cleaning management and permitting requirements.

 

Clean Air Act

 

The Clean Air Act, or the CAA, and its implementing regulations subject our vessels to vapor control and recovery requirements when cleaning fuel tanks and conducting other operations in regulated port areas and to air emissions standards for our engines while operating in U.S. waters. The EPA has adopted standards that apply to certain engines installed on U.S. vessels and to marine diesel fuels produced and distributed in the United States. These standards are consistent with Annex VI of MARPOL and establish significant reductions for vessel emissions of particulate matter, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.

 

The CAA also requires states to draft State Implementation Plans, or SIPs, designed to attain national health-based air quality standards in primarily major metropolitan and industrial areas. Several SIPs regulate emissions from degassing operations by requiring the installation of vapor control equipment on vessels. California has enacted regulations which apply to ocean-going vessels’ engines when operating within 24 miles of the California coast and require operators to use low sulfur fuels. California also approved regulations to reduce emissions from diesel auxiliary engines on certain ocean-going vessels while in California ports, including container ship fleets that make 25 or more annual visits to California ports. These federal and state requirements may increase our capital expenditures and operating costs while in applicable ports. As with other U.S. environmental laws, failure to comply with the Clean Air Act may subject us to enforcement action, including payment of civil or criminal penalties and citizen suits.

 

European Union Requirements

 

In waters of the EU, our vessels are subject to regulation by EU-level legislation, including directives implemented by the various member states through laws and regulations of these requirements. These laws and regulations prescribe measures, among others, to prevent pollution, protect the environment and support maritime safety. For instance, the EU has adopted directives that require member states to refuse access to their ports to certain sub-standard vessels, according to various factors, such as the vessel’s condition, flag, and number of previous detentions (Directive 2009/16 of vessels using their ports annually (based on an inspection “share” of the relevant member state of the total number of inspections to be carried out within the EU and the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control region), inspect all vessels which are due for a mandatory inspection (based, among other things, on their type, age, risk profile and the time of their last inspection) and carry out more frequent inspections of vessels with a high risk profile. If deficiencies are found that are clearly hazardous to safety, health or the environment, the state is required to detain the vessel or stop loading or unloading until the deficiencies are addressed. Member states are also required to implement their own separate systems of proportionate penalties for breaches of these standards.

 

Our vessels are also subject to inspection by appropriate classification societies. Classification societies typically establish and maintain standards for the construction and classification of vessels, supervise that construction in accordance with such standards, and carry out regular surveys of ships in service to ensure compliance with such standards. The EU has adopted legislation (Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 and Directive 2009/15/EC, as amended and supplemented from time to time) that provides member states with greater authority and control over classification societies, including the ability to seek to suspend or revoke the authority of classification societies that are negligent in their duties. The EU requires member states to monitor these organizations’ compliance with EU inspection requirements and to suspend any organization whose safety and pollution prevention performance becomes unsatisfactory.

 

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The EU’s directive on the sulfur content of fuels (Directive (EU) 2016/802, which consolidates Directive 1999/32/EC and its various amendments) restricts the maximum sulfur content of marine fuels used in vessels operating in EU member states’ territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and pollution control zones. The directive provides for more stringent rules on maximum sulfur content of marine fuels applicable in specific Sulfur Emission Control Areas, or SECAs, such as the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, including the English Channel. Further sea areas may be designated as SECAs in the future by the IMO in accordance with Annex VI of MARPOL. Under this directive, we may be required to make expenditures to comply with the sulfur fuel content limits in the marine fuel our vessels use in order to avoid delays or other obstructions to their operations, as well as any enforcement measures which may be imposed by the relevant member states for non-compliance with the provisions of the directive. We also may need to make other expenditures (such as expenditures related to washing or filtering exhaust gases) to comply with relevant sulfur oxide emissions levels. The directive has been amended to bring the above requirements in line with Annex VI of MARPOL. It also makes certain of these requirements more stringent. These and other related requirements may require additional capital expenditures and increase our operating costs.

 

Through Directive 2005/35/EC (as amended by Directive 2009/123/EC and as further amended and supplemented from time to time), the EU requires member states to cooperate to detect pollution discharges and impose criminal sanctions for certain pollution discharges committed intentionally, recklessly or by serious negligence and to initiate proceedings against ships at their next port of call following the discharge. Penalties may include fines and civil and criminal penalties. Directive 2000/59/EC (as amended and supplemented from time to time) requires all ships (except for warships, naval auxiliary or other state-owned or state-operated ships on non-commercial service), irrespective of flag, calling at, or operating within, ports of member states to deliver all ship-generated waste and cargo residues to port reception facilities. Under the directive, a fee is payable by the ships for the use of the port reception facilities, including the treatment and disposal of the waste. The ships may be subject to an inspection for verification of their compliance with the requirements of the directive and penalties may be imposed for their breach.

 

The EU also authorizes member states to adopt the IMO’s Bunker Convention, discussed above, that imposes strict liability on shipowners for pollution damage caused by spills of oil carried as fuel in vessels’ bunkers and requires vessels of a certain size to maintain financial security to cover any liability for such damage. Most EU member states have ratified the Bunker Convention.

 

The EU has adopted a regulation (EU Ship Recycling Regulation (1257/2013)) which sets forth rules relating to vessel recycling and management of hazardous materials on vessels. The regulation contains requirements for the recycling of vessels at approved recycling facilities that must meet certain requirements, so as to minimize the adverse effects of recycling on human health and the environment. The regulation also contains rules for the control and proper management of hazardous materials on vessels and prohibits or restricts the installation or use of certain hazardous materials on vessels. The regulation seeks to facilitate the ratification of the IMO’s Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. The regulation applies to vessels flying the flag of a member state and certain of its provisions apply to vessels flying the flag of a third country calling at a port or anchorage of a member state. For example, when calling at a port or anchorage of a member state, a vessel flying the flag of a third country will be required, among other things, to have on board an inventory of hazardous materials which complies with the requirements of the new regulation and the vessel must be able to submit to the relevant authorities of that member state a copy of a statement of compliance issued by the relevant authorities of the country of the vessel’s flag verifying the inventory. The regulation entered into force on December 30, 2013, although certain of its provisions are to apply at different stages, with certain of them applicable from December 31, 2020. Pursuant to this regulation, the EU Commission adopted the first version of a European List of approved ship recycling facilities meeting the requirements of the regulation, as well as four further implementing decisions dealing with certification and other administrative requirements set out in the regulation. Now that the HKC has been ratified and will enter into force on 26 June 2025, it is expected that the EU Ship Recycling Regulation will be reviewed in light of this.

 

The EU is considering other proposals to further regulate vessel operations. The EU has adopted an Integrated Maritime Policy for the purposes of achieving a more coherent approach to maritime issues through coordination between different maritime sectors and integration of maritime policies. The Integrated Maritime Policy has sought to promote the sustainable development of the European maritime economy and to protect the marine environment through cross-sector and cross-border cooperation of maritime participants. The EU Commission’s proposals included, among other items, the development of environmentally sound end-of-life ship dismantling requirements (as described above in respect of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (1257/2013)), promotion of the use of shore-side electricity by ships at berth in EU ports to reduce air emissions, and consideration of options for EU legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport. The European Maritime Safety Agency has been established to provide technical support to the EU Commission and member states in respect of EU legislation pertaining to maritime safety, pollution and security. The EU, any individual country or other competent authority may adopt additional legislation or regulations applicable to us and our operations.

 

 

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Other Greenhouse Gas Legislation

 

Currently, the emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 2005 and pursuant to which adopting countries have been required to implement national programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with targets extended through 2020. International negotiations are continuing with respect to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, and restrictions on shipping emissions may be included in any new treaty. In December 2009, more than 27 nations, including the U.S. and China, signed the Copenhagen Accord, which includes a non-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris resulted in the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016 and does not directly limit greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The U.S. officially rejoined the Paris Agreement on February 19, 2021.

 

The IMO, EU, the United States and other individual countries, states and provinces are evaluating various measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, which may include some combination of market-based instruments, a carbon tax or other mandatory reduction measures. The EU adopted Regulation (EU) 2015/757 concerning the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from vessels, or the MRV Regulation, which entered into force in July 2015 (as amended by Regulation (EU) 2016/2071). The MRV Regulation applies to all vessels over 5,000 gross tonnage (except for a few types, including, but not limited to, warships and fish-catching or fish-processing vessels), irrespective of flag, in respect of carbon dioxide emissions released during voyages within the EU as well as EU incoming and outgoing voyages. The first reporting period commenced on January 1, 2018. The monitoring, reporting and verification system adopted by the MRV Regulation may be the precursor to a market-based mechanism to be adopted in the future. The EU recently agreed on a Directive on the inclusion of shipping in the EU Emissions Trading System and it has been in force since January 1, 2024.

 

At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, a draft outline of the structure of the initial strategy for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships was approved. Nations at the MEPC 72 adopted an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The initial strategy identified “levels of ambition” to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including decreasing the carbon intensity from ships, reducing carbon dioxide emissions per transport work by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 emission levels, and reducing the total annual greenhouse emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. At MEPC 80 in July 2023, the IMO adopted the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, which revoked the 2018 initial strategy. The 2023 IMO GHG Strategy identifies a number of levels of ambition, including: (1) decline of carbon intensity through further improvement of the energy efficiency for new ships; (2) decline of carbon intensity of international shipping, to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 2008; (3) uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels, and/or energy sources, striving to represent 10% of the energy sources used by international shipping by 2030; and (4) to reach net-zero GHG emission by or around 2050. These regulations could cause us to incur additional substantial expenses.

 

The EU made a unilateral commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its member states from 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. The EU also committed to reduce its emissions by 20% under the Kyoto Protocol’s second period from 2013 to 2020. Starting in January 2018, large ships over 5,000 gross tonnage calling at EU ports are required to collect and publish data on carbon dioxide emissions and other information. As previously discussed, regulations relating to the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector in the European Union’s carbon market are also forthcoming.

 

In the United States, the EPA issued a finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and safety, adopted regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from certain mobile sources, and proposed regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources. The EPA or individual U.S. states could enact environmental regulations that would affect our operations. On November 2, 2021, the EPA issued a proposed rule under the CAA designed to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas sources. In November 2022, the EPA issued a supplemental proposal to that would achieve more comprehensive emissions reductions and add proposed requirements for sources not previously covered. At COP28, the United States announced final standards to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations to achieve an 80% reduction below future methane emissions expected without the rule. If these new regulations are finalized, they could affect our operations.

 

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Any passage of climate control legislation or other regulatory initiatives by the IMO, the EU, the U.S. or other countries where we operate, or any treaty adopted at the international level to succeed the Kyoto Protocol or Paris Agreement, that restricts emissions of greenhouse gases could require us to make significant financial expenditures which we cannot predict with certainty at this time. Even in the absence of climate control legislation, our business may be indirectly affected to the extent that climate change may result in sea level changes or certain weather events.

 

Other Regions

 

We may be subject to environmental and other regulations that have been or may become adopted in other regions of the world that may impose obligations on our vessels and may increase our costs to own and operate them. Compliance with these requirements may require significant expenditures on our part and may materially increase our operating costs.

 

Of particular importance, due to the trade intensity in these areas, are four ECAs created in Hong Kong and in China (Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and Bohai Sea), aiming to reduce the levels of ship-generated air pollution and focus on the sulfur content of fuels. As of January 1, 2017, vessels at berth in a core port within an emission control area are required to use fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.5% m/m—except one hour after arrival and one hour before departure. Since January 1, 2018, all ports within Chinese emission control areas have implemented this standard. As of January 1, 2019, vessels must switch to fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m prior to entering China’s territorial sea, in defined areas. From January 1, 2020, vessels entering Inland ECAs (Yangtze River and Xi Jiang River) must use fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.10% while operating within the Inland ECA. Looking further ahead, a sulfur cap of 0.1% will apply to seagoing vessels entering Hainan Waters within the coastal ECA from January 1, 2022. Vessels capable of receiving shore power must use shore power if they berth for more than three hours in ports in the coastal ECA that have shore power capabilities (or more than two hours in ports with such capabilities in the Inland ECAs). Furthermore, ships of 400 gross tonnage or over, or ships powered by main propulsion machinery greater than 750 kW of propulsion power, calling at a port in China should report energy consumption data of their last voyage to China MSA before leaving port (China Regulation on Data Collection for Energy Consumption of Ships). Hong Kong’s current Fuel at Berth Regulation requiring ships to burn fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m while at berth are expected to be replaced by a regulation extending the standard to ships operating in Hong Kong waters. Ships not fitted with scrubbers will be required to burn fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m within Hong Kong waters, irrespective of whether they are sailing or at berth. In Taiwan, ships not fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers must burn fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5% m/m when entering its international commercial port areas. In December 2021, the member states of the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (“Barcelona Convention”) agreed to support the designation of a new ECA in the Mediterranean. The group plans to submit a formal proposal to the IMO by the end of 2022 with the goal of having the ECA implemented by 2025.

 

In connection with the introduction of the ban of high sulfur fuel for vessels not fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers, a number of countries are introducing rules as to the type of exhaust gas scrubber that may be acceptable to be operated on vessels, in effect prohibiting the operation in their waters of hybrid or open loop type exhaust gas scrubbers and forcing vessels to use more expensive closed loop systems or to burn low sulfur fuel when sailing in their waters.

 

International Labor Organization

 

The International Labor Organization is a specialized agency of the UN that has adopted the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 (“MLC 2006”). A Maritime Labor Certificate and a Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance is required to ensure compliance with the MLC 2006 for all ships that are 500 gross tonnage or over and are either engaged in international trade or flying the flag of a Member and operating from a port, or between ports, in another country. We believe that all our vessels are in substantial compliance with and are certified to meet MLC 2006.

 

Vessel Security Regulations

 

Since September 2001, there have been a variety of initiatives intended to enhance vessel security. In November 2002, the U.S Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, or the MTSA, came into effect. To implement certain portions of the MTSA, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued regulations requiring the implementation of certain security requirements aboard vessels operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and at certain ports and facilities, some of which are regulated by the EPA. Similarly, amendments to the SOLAS Convention created a new chapter of the convention dealing specifically with maritime security, which came into effect in July 2004. To trade internationally, a vessel must attain an International Ship Security Certificate, or ISSC, from a recognized security organization approved by the vessel’s flag state. Ships operating without a valid certificate may be detained, expelled from, or refused entry at port until they obtain an ISSC. The new chapter imposes various detailed security obligations on vessels and port authorities, most of which are contained in the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code, or ISPS Code. Among the various requirements are:

 

on-board installation of automatic information systems, to enhance vessel-to-vessel and vessel-to-shore communications;

 

on-board installation of ship security alert systems;

 

the development of vessel security plans; and

 

compliance with flag state security certification requirements.

 

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The United States Coast Guard regulations, intended to align with international maritime security standards, exempt non-U.S. vessels from MTSA vessel security measures if such vessels have on board a valid International Ship Security Certificate, that attests to the vessel’s compliance with the SOLAS Convention security requirements and the ISPS Code. Our existing vessels have implemented the various security measures addressed by the MTSA, the SOLAS Convention and the ISPS Code.

 

Inspection by Classification Societies

 

The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by its country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and SOLAS. Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage and lending that a vessel be certified “in class” by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, the IACS. The IACS has adopted harmonized Common Structural Rules, or “the Rules,” which apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers contracted for construction on or after July 1, 2015. The Rules attempt to create a level of consistency between IACS Societies. All of our vessels are certified as being “in class” by all the applicable Classification Societies.

 

A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys, drydockings and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts of the vessel. If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance

 

General

 

The operation of any cargo vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, physical damage, collision, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, piracy incidents, hostilities and labor strikes. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. OPA, which imposes virtually unlimited liability upon shipowners, operators and bareboat charterers of any vessel trading in the exclusive economic zone of the United States for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for shipowners and operators trading in the United States market. We carry insurance coverage as customary in the shipping industry. However, not all risks can be insured, specific claims may be rejected, and we might not be always able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.

 

Hull & Machinery, Loss of Hire and War Risks Insurance

 

We maintain marine hull and machinery, increased value and war risks insurances, which cover the risk of actual or constructive total loss, for all of our vessels. Our vessels are each covered up to at least fair market value, which we expect to assess at least annually, with certain deductibles per vessel per incident. We also maintain freight value coverage for each of our vessels under which in the event of total loss or constructive total loss of a vessel, we will be entitled to recover the lost anticipated long term income. As required by the terms of our credit facilities, we have assigned certain of our insurance policies to our lenders and will be subject to restrictions on our use of any proceeds therefrom.

 

We do not have loss-of-hire insurance covering the loss of revenue during extended off-hire periods. We evaluate obtaining such coverage on an ongoing basis, taking into account insurance market conditions and the employment of our vessels.

 

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Protection and Indemnity Insurance

 

Protection and indemnity insurance is provided by mutual protection and indemnity associations, or P&I associations, (“Clubs”) which insure our third-party and crew liabilities in connection with our shipping activities. Coverage includes third-party liability, crew liability and other related expenses resulting from the abandonment, injury or death of crew, and other third parties, the loss or damage to cargo, claims arising from collisions with other vessels, damage to other third-party property, pollution arising from oil or other substances and salvage, towing and other related costs, including wreck removal. Protection and indemnity insurance is a form of mutual indemnity insurance, extended by P&I associations. Subject to the limit for pollution discussed below, our coverage is virtually unlimited, but subject to the rules of the particular protection and indemnity insurer.

 

Our current protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution is up to $1.0 billion per vessel per incident. The 12 Clubs that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial blue-water tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association’s liabilities. The International Group of P&I Clubs maintain a Pool arrangement, which provides a mechanism for sharing all claims in excess of $10.0 million up to, currently, $100.0 million. The Clubs are collectively reinsured in the International Group Excess Loss Programme for $3.0 billion, with an excess of $100.0 million. The overall limit of coverage per vessel, per incident, is approximately $7.0 billion. As members of Clubs which are members of the International Group, we are subject to calls payable to the associations based on our claim records as well as the claim records of all other members of the individual associations and members of the shipping pool of Clubs comprising the International Group.

 

C. Organizational Structure

 

Our holding company, Global Ship Lease, Inc., is a Marshall Islands corporation. Each of our vessels is owned by a separate wholly-owned subsidiary. 23 vessels are owned by companies incorporated in Marshall Islands; one of them is under sale and leaseback transaction and while the disponent owner is a Marshall Island company, its registered owner is a Hong Kong non GSL company. 45 vessels are owned by companies incorporated in Liberia; five of them are under sale and leaseback transactions and while the disponent owners are Liberian companies, their registered owners are Hong Kong (four) and Liberia (one) non GSL companies. In addition, GSLS, a company incorporated in England and Wales and which is directly wholly owned by the holding company, and GSL Enterprises Ltd., a Marshall Islands corporation which has established a branch office in Greece pursuant to the provisions of art. 25 of Law 27/1975 (formerly law 89/1967), provide certain administrative services to the group.

 

A list of our subsidiaries and their respective countries of incorporation is provided as Exhibit 8.1 to this Annual Report on Form 20-F.

 

D. Property, Plants and Equipment

 

Our only material properties are the vessels in our fleet, which are described in “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview.” The vessels are affected by environmental and other regulations. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations.” Certain of our vessels serve as security under our debt agreements. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review—B. Liquidity and Financial Resources —Indebtedness”. We do not own any real property.

 

Item 4A.Unresolved Staff Comments

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 5.Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

 

A. Operating Results

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations

 

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes and the financial and other information included elsewhere in this Annual Report. The term consolidated financial statements refers to the consolidated financial statements of Global Ship Lease, Inc. and its subsidiaries. This discussion contains forward-looking statements based on assumptions about our future business. Our actual results will likely differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” at the beginning of this Annual Report.

 

 

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Table of Contents

 

 

 

Overview

 

We are a containership owner, incorporated in the Marshall Islands. We commenced operations in December 2007 with a business of owning and chartering out containerships under fixed rate charters to container liner companies.

 

As of December 31, 2023, we owned 68 vessels, with a total capacity of 375,406 TEU with an average age, weighted by TEU capacity, of 17.2 years.

 

We have entered into ship management agreements with third-party ship managers for the day-to-day technical and commercial management of our current fleet of vessels. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Management of Our Fleet” for a more detailed description of our ship management agreements.

 

Our financial results are largely driven by the following factors:

 

the continued performance of the charter agreements;
the number of vessels in our fleet and their charter rates;
the terms under which we recharter our vessels once the existing time charters have expired;
the number of days that our vessels are utilized and not subject to drydocking, special surveys or otherwise are off-hire;
our