LONDON: Containership owners have made a major comeback to shipbuilding yards this month with orders ranging from feeders to ultra large boxships.
However, the ordering flurry doesn’t seem to be over, according to Alphaliner, since additional orders are expected to be announced in the coming weeks as owners and carriers look to renew their fleets.
The fleet rejuvenation is being pursued ahead of the anticipated impact of the new environmental regulations including the 2020 Sulfur cap and the Ballast Water Management Convention.
Major liners, including Maersk Line, have added newbuilding capacity over the past couple of weeks.
The Danish container shipping major has exercised an option for the construction of two 15, 200 TEU containerships at Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).
Evergreen is investing in 20-strong newbuilding fleet, having booked construction of eight 12,000 TEU ships with Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) in addition to chartering 12 additional 11,850 TEU ships from Shoei Kisen.
Furthermore, Taiwanese shipping company Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation is on the brink of bringing 20 new ships to the fleet.
Under the investment plan, Yang Ming will order the construction of ten 2,800 TEU containerships and charter ten 11,000 TEU containerships.
What is more, Korean shipping line Hyundai Merchant Marine is expected to start ordering up to 20 ultra large container vessels (ULCVs) as of next month.
These could eventually push the orderbook-to-fleet ratio to above 15 pct, Alphaliner said.
Vessels with a combined slot capacity of 986,000 TEU have been added to the orderbook since September 2017, compared to only 316,000 TEU between January 2016 and August 2017, Alphaliner’s data shows.
The containership fleet has already expanded by 1.2 pct in the first month of 2018 – equal to the entire fleet expansion of 2016, BIMCO said in its market outlook for 2018.
January was one of the busiest months for boxship deliveries over the past eight years, ushering in 254,173 TEU of new capacity.
The idle containership fleet has almost disappeared with only 65 ships on Alphaliner’s list with a combined capacity of 191,441 TEU as of February 5, 2018.
In real terms, this means that nominal fleet growth will have a bigger effect on the market balance, as the temporary idling and re-activation of ships becomes negligible, BIMCO said.
Overall demand growth is expected to be lower than in 2017, but still high enough to potentially improve the fundamental market balance.