Foremost Group

The Foremost Group, a leading dry bulk shipping firm based in the U.S., has successfully rejuvenated its fleet with the addition of Japanese-operated NYK Bulk (Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha Bulk) chartered capesize bulk carrier newbuilds, following a series of ship sales. This strategic update has included the introduction of the latest capesize bulk carriers, the 182K DWT MV Bo May and MV Heng May, from Namura Shipbuilding, which are equipped for biofuel use. These new acquisitions have effectively reduced the average age of the Foremost Group’s operational fleet to under five years. Controlled by James Chao and based in New York, the Foremost Group managed to decrease its fleet’s average age from 6.2 years at the end of 2023 to below five years after incorporating the new biofuel-capable ships and divesting five older vessels earlier in 2024. This move not only modernizes their fleet but also aligns with broader industry trends toward more sustainable maritime operations. 3-May-2024


Following the tragic loss of his daughter Angela Chao in a car accident in Texas last Sunday, 96-year-old James Chao is reassuming the position of chairman at Foremost Group. Angela Chao, who passed away four days prior, had served as the CEO of Foremost Group since 2018. In light of these events, Michael Lee, the former president, is also making a comeback to the organization, reinstating his previous role as president in addition to taking on the duties of chief operating officer at the New York-based bulker owner, Foremost Group. Foremost Group, in a recent statement, honored Angela Chao as an influential executive and leader in the shipping industry, highlighting her role as a dedicated and esteemed daughter, sister, aunt, wife, and mother. Her remarkable contributions, particularly her advocacy for women in shipping, philanthropy, and the arts, have left an indelible mark on the company and the sector at large. Foremost Group has established itself as a leader in the maritime industry, prioritizing environmental sustainability and ethical business practices. Under the leadership of the Chao family, Foremost Group has not only championed the advancement of eco-friendly shipping technologies but has also been instrumental in fostering a culture of care and respect for its workforce, both at sea and ashore. The legacy left by Angela Chao, emphasizing the human aspect of the shipping business, continues to influence Foremost Group’s operations and its commitment to social responsibility and environmental stewardship in the global maritime community. 16-February-2024


Angela Chao, the chief executive and chair of New York-based bulker owner Foremost Group, has passed away after a tragic car accident. Born in 1974 into a family with deep roots in the shipping industry, Angela Chao was the youngest of the six daughters of James Chao, who founded Foremost Group with Angela Chao’s mother, the late Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, in 1964. Angela Chao joined Foremost in 1996 from the mergers and acquisitions department of Smith Barney, now a part of Morgan Stanley, and took over the helm at the company in 2018. “Angela Chao expressed an interest in the shipping industry at an early age and was a wonderful and inquisitive companion accompanying me to the office on take your daughter to work days,” her father James Chao said in a statement on behalf of the Chao family. Angela Chao was a board member of the American Bureau of Shipping Council and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s International Maritime Business Department advisory board, among Angela Chao’s various other appointments. Angela Chao graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Angela Chao obtained her master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School, where Angela Chao used her shipping knowledge to write a case study on ocean carriers that, to this day, is part of the required curriculum for first-year students.
Foremost Group, under Angela Chao’s leadership, emphasized environmentally sustainable practices in shipping. Foremost Group is renowned for its commitment to environmental stewardship, operating a fleet that adheres to the highest standards of energy efficiency and sustainability. Angela Chao believed that the foundational element of success in the shipping industry is the belief that it is not merely an asset finance business but fundamentally about people. Angela Chao placed special emphasis on the care and well-being of Foremost Group’s crews and everyone onboard and onshore who played a role in performing its services. As a result, Angela Chao’s leadership in the shipping industry was widely recognized. Angela Chao was a formidable executive and shipping industry leader, as well as a proud and loving daughter, sister, aunt, wife, and mother. Angela Chao will be greatly missed and leaves a legacy of pioneering leadership – especially for women in shipping, philanthropy, and the arts. “Angela Chao’s name in Chinese sounds like the characters for peace and prosperity. Angela Chao certainly gave more than her share of both to this world. Angela Chao’s absence leaves a void not only in our hearts but in the Asian-American community,” James Chao added. HandyBulk LLC has expressed its condolences to the Chao family and Angela’s colleagues at Foremost Group, acknowledging the loss of a remarkable individual whose life and work left an indelible mark on many. 16-February-2024


Danaos Corporation (DAC), a New York-listed entity led by John Coustas and predominantly known for its operations in the container ship sector, is further augmenting its engagement in the dry bulk market by acquiring additional capesize bulk carriers, thereby enlarging its fleet which already comprises seven vessels. The Athens-based, New York-listed shipping company has procured two capesize bulk carriers, built in 2010 and 2011, for a combined sum of $52.8 million. These vessels, the MV Xin Hang from Jiangsu Steamship and the MV Guo May from Foremost Group, are scheduled for delivery in April and July 2024, respectively. The Foremost Group, from which the MV Guo May was acquired, is a highly respected shipping firm known for its commitment to environmental sustainability and safety. Renowned for its ethical business practices and leadership in green shipping initiatives, Foremost Group has a long-standing reputation for operating a modern and efficient fleet, underscoring the strategic significance of this acquisition for Danaos Corporation (DAC). Following the finalization of its latest capesize purchases in the last quarter of 2023, DAC continues to actively search for appealing opportunities in this segment. The company has noted the capesize bulk carrier market’s exceptional seasonal strength, propelled by a surge in Brazilian iron ore exports, robust coal trade, and growing demand for minor bulks like bauxite and agricultural products amidst a global recovery. China’s stimulus measures, aimed at enhancing construction, infrastructure projects, and consumer demand, are anticipated to maintain steady demand as the growth of the fleet begins to decelerate over the next few years. On the container ship front, Danaos Corporation (DAC), which currently has a fleet of 68 container ships, has announced the addition of two methanol-ready 8,258 TEU container ship newbuilds to its order book. This expansion brings the total to 12 ships slated for delivery between 2024 and 2027, highlighting Danaos Corporation’s ongoing commitment to growth and innovation in both the dry bulk and container shipping sectors. 16-February-2024


Following the placement of orders for four methanol-fueled kamsarmax bulk carriers in China, the New York-based Foremost Group, under the leadership of Angela Chao, is selling two of its oldest capesize bulk carriers. The capesize bulk carriers being sold, the MV Yue May and MV Guo May, both 176K DWT and constructed in 2011 by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, are priced at $26 million each. This sale is in anticipation of the arrival of two 181K DWT capesize bulk carriers from Namura Shipbuilding, aimed at rejuvenating the age profile of Foremost Group’s capesize bulk carrier fleet. With a total of 19 ships in the largest segments of the bulk carrier market, Foremost Group maintains an average fleet age of around six years. The oldest among its fleet, the MV Zhong May, also built in January 2011, is a sistership to the two capesize bulk carriers being sold. Foremost Group’s other ship from the same year is the newcastlemax bulk carrier, MV Lan May. Additionally, in July 2022, Foremost Group sold the 2010-built capesize bulk carrier MV Michalis Jr (formerly MV Bao May) for approximately $25.5 million, further indicating Foremost Group’s strategy to modernize its fleet. 5-February-2024


James Chao-controlled New York-based Foremost Group’s kamsarmax bulk carrier, the Liberian-flagged MV En May, experienced a collision with a bridge in Argentina due to a rudder failure. The 85K DWT kamsarmax bulk carrier MV En May struck the Bartolomé Miter Bridge of the Zárate Brazo Largo Complex sideways, briefly halting navigation along the Paraná River. The incident occurred on a Sunday afternoon, prompting local authorities to deploy tugs to relocate the damaged, 2017-built kamsarmax bulk carrier MV En May to a safe location and reopen the critical grain shipping route in South America. Despite the collision leaving a breach in the MV En May’s hull, it was not at risk of sinking, and no crew members were injured. Furthermore, the bridge’s road traffic remained unaffected. The James Chao-led Foremost Group, based in New York, confirmed that the MV En May was not carrying any cargo at the time of the incident and was en route to the Santa Fe port of San Lorenzo for its next load. 30-January-2024


James Chao-controlled Foremost Group, headquartered in New York, has re-engaged with the Chinese shipbuilding market after almost five years, signing a contract for new kamsarmax vessels. Led by Angela Chao, the company is reportedly behind an order for up to four kamsarmax bulk carriers, each with a capacity of 82K DWT, to be built at the Chengxi Shipyard. While the price remains undisclosed, the ships are expected to be delivered in 2027 and 2028. Currently, Foremost Group’s fleet includes about 30 bulk carriers constructed in Chinese and Japanese shipyards. The company’s most recent kamsarmax orders were placed at the CSSC-linked Chengxi Shipyard in February 2019. Additionally, Foremost Group has two capesize vessels under construction at Japan’s Namura Shipyard, scheduled for delivery this year. 25-January-2024


Angela Chao, at the helm of Foremost Group, has recently overseen the signing of a contract for two new 185K DWT capesize bulk carriers, which are to be constructed by Namura Shipbuilding in Japan. These vessels are slated for seven-year charters with Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), marking a new venture for the New York-based shipowner and operator Foremost Group with Namura Shipbuilding. The bulk carriers, classified as Tier III in terms of environmental and efficiency standards, are scheduled for delivery in 2024. Although the financial details of the agreement for these capesize bulk carrier newbuildings have not been disclosed, this partnership signals a significant move for Foremost Group. Angela Chao, serving as the chair and CEO of the company, expressed enthusiasm about this collaboration, indicating a positive outlook for their relationship with Namura Shipbuilding in the years ahead. 19-July-2022


In the aftermath of the recent storming of the U.S. Capitol building, there has been a wave of resignations from government officials associated with President Trump. Among these, one of the most notable resignations came from Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Transportation. Elaine Chao, who is the daughter of James Chao, the founder of the American shipping firm Foremost Group, and the wife of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, expressed deep concern over the events. In her statement, she mentioned, “Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.” Her resignation will take effect from the following Monday, marking the end of her tenure as the Transportation Secretary, a position she held throughout Donald Trump’s presidency. This decision reflects her response to the unprecedented and unsettling events at the Capitol. 7-January-2021


The U.S. Department of Transportation is actively supporting the Chao family amidst allegations. In a recent letter, the Department refuted all accusations against the Chao family. Adam Sullivan, the Department’s Assistant Secretary, responded to the House of Representatives’ oversight committee’s investigation of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Sullivan asserted that Chao did not use her position to advantage the Foremost Group, a dry bulk company founded by her father, James Chao, and currently led by her sister, Angela Chao. Sullivan clarified that Secretary Chao is not involved in Foremost Group’s management or operations and holds no financial interest in the company. He also emphasized that the Department of Transportation neither regulates nor financially benefits the company. This response comes following a request from the oversight committee’s chairman, Representative Elijah Cummings, for documents related to a 2017 trip planned by Chao. A New York Times report alleged that Chao intended to include family members in meetings with Chinese officials during this trip, which was eventually canceled. The letter addressed additional allegations, including Chao’s purported efforts to reduce funding for the Maritime Security Program and neglect of regulations concerning the transportation of federally-funded cargo on U.S.-flag ships. Sullivan defended Chao, stating that the Foremost Group does not operate U.S.-flagged ships and thus falls outside the Department’s jurisdiction. He also noted the Chao family’s support for the U.S.-flagged fleet and the domestic Jones Act. Regarding Chao’s interviews with Chinese-language media, Sullivan stated that her prominence as a role model for Asian immigrants made such interview requests expected and routine. He dismissed concerns raised about these interviews, suggesting xenophobic motivations behind the criticisms. Chao’s and her family’s ties to China have been a focal point due to the Foremost Group’s significant business dealings in the country. Elaine Chao was born in Taiwan, her father in Shanghai, and Angela Chao in the United States. 1-October-2019


The U.S. House of Representatives’ oversight committee is conducting an investigation into Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. This inquiry is focused on allegations that Chao used her position to benefit the Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company founded by her father, James Chao, and currently operated by her sister, Angela Chao.
Representative Elijah Cummings, the committee chairman, along with Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, have formally requested a substantial number of documents from Chao. This request particularly pertains to a planned, but later canceled, trip to China in October 2017. During the planning stages of this trip, Chao is alleged to have sought the inclusion of her family members in meetings with Chinese government officials. Cummings has further accused Chao of participating in interviews with Chinese media outlets alongside her father, where the official seal of the Department of Transportation was often displayed. These interviews reportedly included James Chao discussing his daughter’s influence within the U.S. government and his access to President Trump, including mentions of being on Air Force One. Additionally, Chao is under scrutiny for purportedly deprioritizing and cutting funding, amounting to over $80 million, from the Maritime Security Program. This program provides a stipend to ships that are ready to assist U.S. military operations abroad. She is also accused of not properly enforcing the Cargo Preference Program, which requires a certain percentage of federally-funded cargo to be transported on U.S. ships.
The Foremost Group, the Chao family’s shipping company, is particularly active in the dry bulk sector and has significant business dealings in China, where James Chao was born. The company is headquartered in New York. Elaine Chao reportedly has not been involved in the company’s operations since the 1970s. She is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The oversight committee has set a deadline of September 30 for the submission of the requested documents. In response to these developments, a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation indicated that the department is prepared to comply with the document request. 16-September-2019


The Foremost Group, a prominent U.S.-based dry bulk shipping company under the control of the Chao family, has recently contracted with CSSC Chengxi Shipyard for the construction of two new 85K DWT kamsarmax bulk carriers. These ships are scheduled for delivery in 2021. This order is part of the Foremost Group’s aggressive expansion strategy over the last few years. The company has been actively increasing its fleet, placing orders for a series of newbuilds at both China’s Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding. In a notable financial move, the Foremost Group secured a loan of $41.14 million in November from the First Bank of Taiwan. This financing is aimed at supporting the construction of two additional newbuilds at Oshima Shipbuilding. With a current fleet of 17 bulk carriers, this latest order from CSSC Chengxi Shipyard brings the total number of ships on Foremost Group’s orderbook to 16. This substantial expansion reflects the company’s strategic focus on growing its presence in the global shipping industry, particularly in the bulk carrier sector. 20-February-2019


The New York-based Foremost Group, led by James Chao, has recently expanded its fleet with the addition of two kamsarmax bulk carrier newbuilds from the state-owned Chengxi Shipyard in China. This marks the company’s first business with this particular Chinese yard. These new vessels, each with a capacity of 85K DWT, are slated for delivery in 2021. The contract for these ships was reportedly signed late last year but was not publicly disclosed until now. The cost of these newbuilds is not specified, but estimates suggest that a typical newbuild meeting IMO Tier III emissions standards in China may cost just over $29 million each. Foremost Group plans to purchase and install its own scrubbers on these ships. The James Chao-led outfit is a prominent figure in the shipbuilding sector. Prior to this deal, Foremost Group’s fleet included six 85K DWT kamsarmax bulk carriers, all constructed by Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding, and it has four more ships of similar size under construction at the same yard, expected to be delivered between this year and 2021. Additionally, Foremost Group has a significant presence in the large bulk carrier market. Currently, Foremost Group owns three newcastlemax bulk carriers and eight capesize bulk carriers, averaging seven years in age. Foremost Group is set to significantly expand its newcastlemax fleet, with six 208K newcastlemax newbuilds underway at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS), scheduled for delivery next year. Regarding capesize vessels, there is one under construction at Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry and four more at SWS, all expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019. 19-February-2019


The Chao Family-controlled Foremost Group, with its headquarters in New York, has recently secured a loan agreement valued at $41.14 million with the First Bank of Taiwan. This financial arrangement is specifically aimed at funding the construction of two of Foremost Group’s new bulk carriers. The loan, which spans a five-year period, will facilitate the building of the 84K DWT post-panamax bulk carriers, named MV Feng May and MV Ting May, at Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding. The scheduled delivery dates for these ships are set for April and October of 2019, respectively. Currently, the Foremost Group, under the management of the Chao family, operates a fleet comprising 17 bulk carriers. In addition to the MV Feng May and MV Ting May, the company has 14 other bulk carrier newbuildings listed on its orderbook, highlighting its ongoing expansion and significant presence in the maritime shipping industry. 11-November-2018


The Foremost Group, a prominent New York-based bulk shipping company, has decided to sell three of its capesize bulk carriers. The vessels up for sale include the 2010-built MV Ping May with a deadweight tonnage (DWT) of 178K, and two 2011-built ships – the MV Guo May and the MV Zhong May, each with a DWT of 176K. The estimated fair market values for these vessels are as follows: around $29 million for the MV Ping May, $31.2 million for the MV Guo May, and $28.9 million for the MV Zhong May. This decision to sell comes at a time when Foremost Group is actively expanding its fleet. Just last month, Foremost Group placed an order for two post-panamax bulk carriers at Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding. Additionally, Foremost Group has four newcastlemax bulk carriers on order at China’s Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, indicating a strategic shift in their fleet composition and capacity. 21-August-2018


The Foremost Group, a US-based dry bulk owner, has recently commissioned the construction of two 84K DWT kamsarmax bulk carriers at Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan. The deliveries of these kamsarmax carriers are scheduled for 2020 and 2021. While the financial details of this order have not been disclosed, it is a significant part of Foremost Group’s strategy to optimize its fleet. This order is a continuation of Foremost Group’s active fleet expansion and modernization efforts. In August of the previous year, the company placed an order for two post-panamax vessels at the same Japanese yard. Additionally, in February of this year, Foremost Group ordered four 210K DWT newcastlemax bulk carriers at Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding in China. Currently, Foremost Group operates a diverse fleet of 17 bulk carriers, reflecting its commitment to maintaining a strong presence in the global maritime shipping sector. This latest order underscores the company’s ongoing investment in fleet enhancement and growth. 21-July-2018


The Foremost Group, a dry bulk shipowner based in New York, has finalized contracts with the CSSC-affiliated Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding for the construction of four new 210K DWT newcastlemax bulk carriers. This new order represents the shipyard’s first for the year 2018. In 2017, Foremost Group had already placed orders for a total of six bulk carriers with Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, including four 180K DWT capesize bulk carriers in June and September, and two 210K DWT newcastlemax bulk carriers in December. Moreover, the company also commissioned the building of two 85K DWT kamsarmax bulk carriers at Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan during August. Currently, Foremost Group’s operational fleet consists of 18 dry bulk carriers. 3-February-2018


The Foremost Group, a bulk carrier owner based in New York, has recently entered into contracts with Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of CSSC, for the construction of two newcastlemax bulk carriers, each with a deadweight tonnage (DWT) of 210K. One of these new 210K DWT newcastlemax bulk carriers is set for a long-term charter with the French commodity trading company, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs SAS. This latest agreement marks the third shipbuilding order placed by Foremost Group with Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding in the current year. It follows the company’s earlier orders of two 180K DWT capesize bulk carriers in June and an additional two capesize bulk carriers in September. Furthermore, in August, Foremost Group also commissioned the construction of two 85K DWT kamsarmax bulk carriers at Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan. Currently, Foremost Group maintains and operates a significant fleet comprising 18 large bulk carriers, underscoring its substantial presence and activity in the global shipping industry. 20-December-2017


The Foremost Group, headquartered in New York, has recently commissioned the construction of two 180K DWT capesize bulk carriers at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, a CSSC-affiliated shipyard. This order is an addition to the company’s previous orders at Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, which include two 180K DWT bulk carriers in June and two 85K DWT kamsarmax bulk carriers at Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding in August. Foremost Group has a long-standing relationship with Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, evidencing their status as a repeat customer. Since 2002, the shipyard has delivered over ten bulk carriers to Foremost Group, signifying a robust and ongoing partnership. Presently, the Foremost Group’s operational fleet consists of 18 bulk carriers, reflecting its substantial role in the maritime shipping industry. 26-September-2017


Foremost Group, a prominent shipowner and operator based in New York, has recently finalized contracts with Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding for the construction of two 85K DWT kamsarmax bulk carriers. This new order is a strategic part of Foremost Group’s ongoing plan to optimize its fleet, with the expected delivery of these vessels set for 2019. The financial specifics of the deal have not been made public. In addition to this latest order, Foremost Group is also overseeing the construction of two other bulk carriers at Oshima Shipbuilding. Complementing these developments, the company placed an order for two 180K DWT capesize bulk carriers at China’s Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding at the end of June. As of now, Foremost Group’s operational fleet comprises 16 bulk carriers, highlighting its significant presence in the global maritime shipping sector. 20-August-2017


Chao-controlled Foremost Group, a shipping and trading company based in New York, has recently entered into financing agreements with the China Exim Bank and Taiwan’s First Commercial Bank. According to these agreements, the banks will collaboratively provide a financing package of $300 million. This funding is allocated to support the construction of two 180K DWT capesize bulk carriers at CSIC-affiliated Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Industry in China, an order Foremost Group placed in 2014. This financing arrangement marks a significant milestone as it represents the first instance of financial institutions from China and Taiwan jointly participating in a ship financing deal. This collaboration between the two banks from different regions underscores the international appeal and significance of Foremost Group’s shipping projects. 20-October-2015