The previous annual record on new orders for container ship capacity has already been breached in less than eight months, according to a Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) report, with 619 container vessels being now on order for future delivery, and 381 in 2021 alone.
Although never has 3.44 million TEU being ordered in such a short time span, still, it’s not a record for the total orderbook, as 6.8 million TEU were on order by the end of July 2008, compared to 5.3 million TEU today.
"Today the container ship order book holds 5.3 million TEU of shipping capacity. This is set to be added into the fleet from 2023 and onwards," pointed out BIMCO Chief Shipping Analyst Peter Sand, who went on to add: "Going into 2021, the order book only stood at 2.5 million TEU. Since then, a record-high 3.3 million TEU has been ordered. Ship-owners really like to invest in the business now."
The size of the boxships is still a crucial factor, but there are also other equally important parts, according to Sand who noted, "your ships must be ready to fit emerging trade lanes – and many of them will be scrubber-fitted.”
According to BIMCO's report, 60 container ships with a carrying capacity of 16,000 TEU each were ordered in February, March, April, and June by just five different owners. Half of them were ordered by two ‘Top-4’ tonnage providers and one minor, and the other half by operating liner companies.
“It’s very much a sign of times, too. You go big or you don’t go at all. You place an order for 4, 5 and 6 ships or as much as 20 units in one go, at one yard only. The buying power when you’re spending $ 2.5 billion is significant,” said Peter Sand.
As owners see a somewhat different trade pattern developing in recent years and very much right now, due to the US-China trade war and the COVID-19 outbreak, the more ‘versatile’ 13,000-16,000 TEU have been preferred to the Ultra-Large Container Ships (ULCS), according to BIMCO.
No more than 22 ULCS was ordered during the initial seven and half months of 2021. In February, 14 units of 24,000-24,100 TEU ships were ordered and in June another 8 units of 23,500-24,000 TEU followed.
Container shipping capacity of 1.5 million TEU has been ordered so far in 2021, for delivery in each of the years 2023 and 2024. As the scheduled orderbook for 2024 today stands at 2.15 million TEU, it’s worth noticing the record delivery year, date back to 2015, where 1.66 million TEU entered active service on the global container lines’ networks.
BIMCO, an international shipping association representing shipowners, said it always accounts for a certain delay in scheduled deliveries when it aims at forecasting what will actually get delivered in any given year. Therefore, BIMCO's current estimate suggests that the 2015 delivery record will not be broken.