Monday, 29 December 2008

Big boxships join anchored fleet;jsessionid=E38DBF38DD4D884C9830BFEF5461B2D9

CONTAINERSHIP owners are now prepared to leave even their very large vessels idle as market conditions continue to worsen.

Latest figures from AXS-Alphaliner show that the number of boxships at anchor has increased significantly over the past couple of weeks, with total unemployed capacity now put at 165 vessels of 430,000 teu.

The figure only passed the 300,000 teu mark just two weeks earlier, but since then several more services have been suspended, with others due to be axed in the coming weeks.

AXS-Alphaliner reports that six very large containerships have joined the pool of out-of-work tonnage, while others of that size will soon be in a similar position as lines prepare to withdraw more services. Another 19 ships in the 5,000 teu-7,500 teu range are also at anchor, along with 22 in the 3,000 teu-5,000 teu bracket.

But the biggest casualties of the slump are ships of 1,000-2,000 teu capacity, with almost five dozen now unemployed.

AXS-Alphaliner calculates the amount of idle tonnage at equivalent to 3.5% of the total cellular fleet, the same in percentage terms as that reached during the last downturn of 2002, when the fleet was much smaller.

Around 105 of the 165 ships at anchor are usually employed in the charter market.

German shipowners recently re-activated the Containership Association, whose members will be entitled to temporary loss-of-hire compensation for ships that are unable to find employment.

A number of owners are also planning to put their surplus boxships into full lay-up because of the absence of any positive signs on the horizon.

The downturn comes at a time when the fleet is growing at record speed, with total capacity passing the 13m teu level just before Christmas.

That represents growth of more than 100% since mid-2001 when the fleet stood at 6m teu.

It then took 21 months to climb by another 1m teu, whereas this year, the fleet gained 1m teu in the space of just nine months, and is on course to grow to 14m teu by August 2009.

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