SOUTH Korean shipping companies have been increasingly resorting to chartering vessels rather than buying or leasing. By the end of June they had chartered 487 ships aggregating 12.85 million gross tonnes (gt). This was about 1.4 times their own holdings of 376 ships aggregating 9.3 million gt, according to the latest survey conducted by the Korea Shipowners' Association. The number of chartered vessels by Korean shipping firms rose from 261 at (7.59 million gt) at the end of January to 419 (10.82 million gt) at the end of March, to 487 at (12.85 million gt) at the end of June. Ships chartered for less than six months accounted for 65 per cent of the total, or 313 vessels (8.49 million gt), the survey showed. Chartered vessels with contracts ranging from six months to two years numbered 64 (1.42 million gt). Those with contracts of more than two years reached 110 (2.94 million gt). Of those with contracts of less than six months, bulk carriers topped the list with 264 (6.89 million gt), followed by oil product carriers with 19 (709,000 gt). Others included three minerals carriers (234,000 gt), five chemical product carriers (227,000 gt), eight car carriers (216-345 gt), and 11 log carriers (208,000 gt). Among vessels chartered for more than two years, bulk carriers also led the way with 39 (799,000 gt), followed by ore carriers with eight (683,000 gt). Other charters included six liquified natural gas (LNG) carriers (464,000 gt), 24 containerships (389,000 gt), nine oil product carriers (357,000 gt) and eight car carriers (213,000 gt).