Ocean carriers have increased total container capacity absorbed by sailing their ships at extra slow speeds by 30 percent since the beginning of the year, according to Alphaliner.
Extra slow-steaming has soaked up 930,000 20-foot-equivalent units, or 5.7 percent of the world container fleet, the container market analyst estimates.
Carriers have stretched the rotation of 35 service “loops” since January, removing more than 230,000 TEUs of surplus capacity since January.
Ships are sailing at speeds of less than 14 knots on certain legs in the Far East-Europe strings, increasing the average rotation to 10.5 weeks on voyages to North Europe and 9.9 weeks to the Mediterranean.
This compares with average lengths of only 8.2 weeks and 7.4 weeks, respectively, in 2007, according to Alphaliner.
Since April, six Far East-Europe strings that were already operating extra slow-steaming have been extended by a further week with sailing speeds of less than 13 knots on the backhaul legs.
Extra slow-steaming, also driven by soaring fuel prices, is spreading from the Far East-Europe and trans-Pacific to several other high volume secondary routes, Alphaliner notes.
This includes the Far East-South America trade where all strings are now slow-steaming and several services from the Far East to the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Africa and Australia where carriers have also cut sailing speeds.
Alphaliner expects a temporary surge in slow-steaming in the next two months as carriers scrap up to 20 Far East-Europe sailings during China’s Golden Week holidays in October.
Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.