Almost half of all containerships on order are for capacity of more than 10,000 20-foot equivalent units and the average size of vessels delivered this year will be more than double that of a decade ago, according to Alphaliner.
Very large and ultra-large container ships of above 7,500 TEUs will dominate deliveries over the coming decade as carriers seek to achieve greater economies of scale and reduce slot cost per TEU, the container market analyst said.
Vessels of 10,000 TEUs and over accounted for 48 percent of the order book as of October 1, followed by 7,500 to 9,999 TEUs ships which made up 21 percent of contracts.
The average size of new containerships in 2000 was only 2,900 TEUs compared to 6,100 TEUs this year, while the largest delivery was 8,200 TEUs compared to 16,000 TEUs by the end of 2012 and 18,000 TEUs by 2013.
Carriers have scaled up across all trade lanes to the point that 7,000- to 9,000-TEU ships are becoming a common size on high-volume north-south trade lanes covering Africa, the Middle East and South Africa.
Ships of 2,500 to 3,500 TEUs capacity are now employed on many feeder services while Maersk Line has introduced a 5,500-TEU feeder ship.
“Deploying vessels of such sizes in north-south and feeder trades is a relatively new trend, observed during the past 12 months,” Alphaliner said.
Apart from increasing the size of container ships there has been very little real innovation in the industry since the first overpanamax vessel was delivered in 1988.
“It appears that the container carriers’ answer to the challenges of sustainable shipping and the reduction of emissions is to build ever-larger ships.”