The world container ship fleet grew at the slowest rate in 10 years in 2009 as nearly one out of eight vessels is laid-up.
The cellular containership fleet is expected to grow by only 6.1 percent in 2009, according to Alphaliner -- the slowest growth rate recorded by the Paris-based research group since 2000.
At the same time, 11.7 percent of the world fleet is idled, a level that’s set to grow in the coming months as capacity growth outstrips cargo demand.
Fleet growth peaked at 16.1 percent in 2006 before easing to 13.9 percent in 2007 and 13.2 percent in 2008.
Deliveries in the first eleven months of 2009 totaled 247 ships with a combined capacity of 986,663 20-foot equivalent units, according to Alphaliner.
A further 95,000 TEUs is expected to be delivered in December, taking total deliveries to 1.08 million TEUs. This is significantly lower than the 1.85 million TEUs of new ships projected at the beginning of the year, largely due to delivery deferrals.
Ship owners engaged in record scrapping of older tonnage as well. This trend will continue into 2010, making it difficult to accurately forecast fleet growth, Alphaliner said.
Based on current delivery schedules, 1.84 million TEUs are due to be delivered through 2010, equal to annual growth of 14 percent. But if scrapping next year matches the demolition rate in 2009 this would remove around 350,000 TEUs and cut growth to 11.4 percent.
“With delivery deferrals and heavy slippage expected to continue next year, the 2010 fleet capacity growth rate could fall to half of what is currently projected,” Alphaliner concluded.
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