NOBLE Group subsidiary Noble Chartering has emerged as the largest Hong Kong-based ship charterer. In the first nine months of the year, the company chartered 165 bulk carriers, mainly Panamax and Handysize vessels, on the international market, compared with 169 vessels for the whole of last year. Managing director Harry Banga said the company was likely to charter about 200 ships this year. He said Noble was also the largest Hong Kong-based charterer of Panamax vessels. 'On average, we sign up six Panamax carriers every month on time charter,' he said. Noble Chartering, which specialises in the transport of dry bulk cargoes, concentrates on Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim, with particular emphasis on China. The principal cargoes of the company include wheat and raw materials for the steel industry, such as iron ore and chrome ore. About 80 per cent of the voyages invoiced by Noble so far this year were destined for China, up from 67 per cent last year. Last year, the main cargoes shipped by the company were iron ore, accounting for 60 per cent, and wheat, making up 11 per cent.