Dole Food Co. Inc. is updating its ocean-going fleet with three specialty refrigerated container ships for its West Coast operations.

Marty Ordman, a spokesman for the Westlake Village, Calif., company confirmed the news June 3. He said the new ships are scheduled for delivery in late 2015 or early 2016.

Dole paid about $165 million for the ships, according to a news release from the company. The ships that will be replaced will be 27 years old when the new vessels go into service, said Dole president Michael Carter in the release.

“Updating our West Coast shipping capabilities is very important strategically,” Carter said in the release. “The new ships will be more fuel efficient and will be built to Dole’s exacting specifications and design.”

The new ships will have greater capacity than the old ones and will be equipped with gantry cranes, according to the release.

In making the decision to upgrade the fleet, Dole’s board agreed to an indefinite suspension of a previously announced share repurchase program for up to $200 million of its outstanding stock, Carter said in the release.

“At this time we have decided to use our existing funding resources to take advantage of this opportune window in the shipping industry when these specialty ships can be built at very competitive costs,” Carter saids in the release.