Marine transportation services provider DryShips has signed an agreement to acquire 98% of the US-based Nautilus OffShore Services for $87m and assume $33m of net debt.

Nautilus owns six offshore supply vessels indirectly through its subsidiaries.

Four are oil spill recovery vessels (OSRVs), with two platform supply vessels (PSVs).

Managed by TMS OffShore Services, all of the vessels are on time charter to Petrobras at certain dates up to 2017.

"We are diversifying the company’s asset base and increasing the company’s secured cash-flow for the benefit of all stakeholders.

DryShips plans to fund the acquisition by a new loan facility of $50m, which would be secured by shares held by it in its affiliate Ocean Rig UDW that provides offshore deepwater drilling services and by one Panamax drybulk carrier.

According to the company, the independent members of its board of directors have approved the transaction.

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DryShips chief financial officer Ziad Nakhleh said: "We are very pleased to have agreed to the acquisition of six modern offshore supply vessels from clients of TMS OffShore with fixed-rate employment that we expect will generate in excess of $20m of EBITDA until the end of 2016.

"With the support of our founder and main shareholder, we are diversifying the company’s asset base and increasing the company’s secured cash-flow for the benefit of all stakeholders."

In September, DryShips signed an agreement to sell 17 vessels consisting of 13 Capesize and four Panamax bulk carriers for $377m.