A record 450,000 TEUs of capacity is set to be deleted from the world container ship fleet in 2013 and the average age of ships scrapped has fallen to an all-time low of 22 years, according to industry analyst Alphaliner.
But deliveries of new ships will still outpace deletions by a ratio of three to one this year, increasing the world fleet by 1.39 million 20-foot-equivalent units, or 6 percent.
The 2013 deletions, which compare with the previous record of 377,000 TEUs in 2009, comprise 197 ships, of which 184, totaling 435,000 TEUs, were scrapped. A further nine with a combined capacity of 8,300 TEUs were converted to non-container use, and four, totaling 11,400 TEUs, either sunk or were damaged beyond repair.
The record cull of the global fleet this year was driven by a surge in scrapping of vessels between 3,000 and 5,000 TEUs, with 76 sold to breakers’ yards, including 33 under the age of 20.
The drop in the average age of scrapped ships to 22 years from the historical average of 28 largely reflects weak trading conditions and excess supply, especially in the 3,000- to 5,000-TEU sector where charter rates have fallen below breakeven levels.
In all, 59 ships under 20 years of age were demolished in 2013, the youngest being the 14-year-old 1,538-TEU Ocean Provider, which was scrapped due to technical design flaws.
The average size of scrapped vessels rose to an all time high of 2,365 TEUs, with the largest being the 1994-built MSC Catania at 4,953 TEUs.
Deliveries of new ships are expected to hit a record 1.6 million TEUs in 2014, according to Alphaliner.