Record deliveries of container ships in the next few months likely will add further down pressure on ocean freight rates and reverse the rally in vessel charter rates, according to Alphaliner.
Thirty-two ships with an aggregate capacity of 226,500 20-foot equivalent units will be delivered in April, the highest level of monthly deliveries, the container market analyst said.
Shipyards are set to hand over a further 41 vessels of 204,000 TEUs in May, bringing total deliveries in the first five months of the year to 688,000 TEUs.
By The Numbers:
Container Rate Benchmark
This flood of new capacity is hitting the market at a time when demand growth shows signs of slowing down. South China ports increased throughput only 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year compared with 23.7 percent in the same period in 2010.
The 430,000 TEUs of new capacity to be delivered in April and May is equivalent to 3 percent of the total cellular container fleet.
Total deliveries in 2011 are expected to reach 1.35 million TEUs, based on Alphaliner's figures, which are adjusted for delivery deferrals.
A large number of the ships already delivered this year were deferred from 2009 and 2010. Many vessels were fully completed in 2010 but their commissioning was delayed at their owners' request.
As funding issues have been resolved for the majority of these vessels, further delivery delays are unlikely, Alphaliner said.
As a result, the cellular container ship fleet is projected to increase 8.6 percent this year, including provisions for scrapping of older tonnage.
"Hence the demand-supply balance is gradually moving against the ship-owners' favor," Alphaliner said.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.