Meet Nicola, the first of eight enormous iron ore carriers ready to launch for Fortescue

Fortescue has launched its first Very Large Ore Carrier.

“FMG Nicola” certainly does what it says on the VLOC box. What a beast:

Well hello, Nicola. Picture: Getty Images

Nicola is one of eight VLOCs being built at the Yangzijiang Shipyard in Jiangsu Province, China. Yesterday, she departed on her maiden voyage to Fortescue’s Herb Elliot Port, in Port Hedland, WA.

She will arrive mid-December.

The name “Nicola” is Fortescue founder and chairman Andrew Forrest’s homage to his wife. Three others ships due for completion – FMG Grace, FMG Sophia and FMG Sydney – are named after his three children.

Picture: Fortescue

When fully operational, the eight carriers will provide 12% of Fortescue’s shipping requirements – approximately 21 million tonnes per annum.

They come at a price, obviously – $US556 million to build. Fortescue has struck a deal with China Development Bank Leasing to fund 85% of the cost for 12 years. It’s the biggest largest direct funding arrangement provided by a major Chinese financier for a non-Chinese company in Australia.

Fortescue say owning its own fleet will “improve load rates, efficiencies and reduce operating costs”.

“The VLOC fleet is a natural extension of our supply chain and will play a significant role in increasing efficiencies at our port and lowering costs,” Fortescue CEO Nev Power said.

“They also reflect and strengthen Fortescue’s close relationships in China, our largest market.”

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