The race to order ultra large container ships as ocean carriers seek lower capital and operating costs will lead to increased rate competition as lines strive to fill their vessels, Alphaliner warned.
Carriers are expected to firm up orders for more than 50 ships with capacities exceeding 10,000 20-foot equivalent units by the end of the year, according to the container market analyst.
They will join 147 similar sized vessels due for delivery over the next four years and the 98 that have been delivered since 2008.
“The carriers’ inability to rein in the huge appetite for new and larger tonnage will inevitably lead to further rate competition,” Alphaliner noted.
The latest carrier to join the race is APL, which signed deals for 10 14,000 TEUs ships, some 64 percent larger than the biggest ships the carrier currently operates.
Korea’s Hanjin Shipping subsequently confirmed an $846 million order for five 13,000 TEUs vessels.
In the past six months OOCL, Hapag-Lloyd and NYK are also announced plans to order or charter ships of above 13,000 TEUs, joining nine carriers who have already placed orders for ships of this size.
Only seven out of the top 20 carriers have still not placed orders for ships of more than 10,000 TEUs capacity, according to Alphaliner.
Meanwhile, Maersk Line is expected shortly to exercise an option for 10 more 18,000 TEUs ships just months after it placed an initial $1.9 billion order with Korean yard Daewoo, for 10 of the world’s largest container vessels.
Alphaliner estimates that slot costs of 13,000 TEUs ships are about $150 per TEU lower than 8,500 TEUs ships on the Far East-Europe route.
“Pressure to match the unit slot costs of competing carriers which already operate larger ships could soon force the remaining carriers to upgrade their fleets, which would lead to further rate competition as carriers strive to fill these ultra large containerships.”
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