King Ocean Services has acquired assets of Bernuth Lines, and is adding service between the United States and 17 markets in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The deal is a major expansion for King Ocean, which has been operating eight ships in services to Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire and to Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Venezuela.
“For us it is a completely new service, there is no overlap,” said Franco Da Costa Gomez, a spokesman for the company and the son of the president and chief executive officer of King Ocean, Jose Da Costa Gomez.
King Ocean will add service to St. Maarten, Anguilla, Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, St. Barths, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Colombia. (Bernuth calls the Colombia Island of San Andres where King Ocean ships call the mainland ports of Barranquilla and Cartagena.)
According to Alphaliner, King Ocean has eight chartered ships with a total of 9,489 TEUs capacity. The Bernuth Website lists nine ships ranging in size from 158 to 737 TEUs. Some of the Bernuth ships have shallow drafts that enable them to call small island ports.
With the acquisition of Bernuth, King Ocean will become a major competitor with Tropical Shipping, which also calls at most of the same Caribbean islands. Tropical underwent a change of ownership last December when its former parent, the natural gas utility NICOR, was acquired by AGL Resources.
While King Ocean’s services sail from Port Everglades, Bernuth services will continue to run out of the small Island Terminal off of the MacArthur Causeway that connects Miami and Miami Beach.
“We believe the addition of Bernuth Lines immediately strengthens our company's position in the local shipping market and adds a long line of shipping success to our current book of business. We will now be able to offer clients a one-stop provider for shipping needs all over the Caribbean Sea and we know this move will greatly increase Bernuth's current workforce, efficiency, and customer service capabilities,” said King Ocean in a statement.
Franco Da Costa Gomez said King Ocean plans to continue to use the Bernuth name to provide continuity to its clients, suppliers, and representatives.
He emphasized while the deal was an acquisition of assets and routes, not the entire Bernuth company, King Ocean has invited the employees of Bernuth to apply to join King Ocean and will work with its agents.
Capt. Jordan Monocandilos, who founded Bernuth with Pat Bernuth in 1972, will retire from the company, but continue to be active as a shipowner and manager. His son, Nicolas, and daughter, Lina, have joined King Ocean. - Chris Dupin