Global Inactive Container Ship Fleet Shows Signs of Stabilization


The upward momentum that had been propelling the global inactive container ship fleet to new heights recently came to a halt at the close of July, with a notable number of large vessels re-entering active service. This development follows a series of consecutive fortnights of growth, as reported by Alphaliner, a leading maritime consulting firm.

Alphaliner’s latest survey, conducted on July 31st, revealed a total of 231 ships with an accumulated capacity of 827,383 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) now lying inactive. This represents a capacity decline of 51,704 TEU compared to figures from a mere fortnight earlier. However, the number of idle vessels remained unchanged during this period.

The shift in these statistics can be attributed to the strategic decision of several carrier-controlled units, particularly those in the range of +12,500 TEU, to rejoin active operations. Furthermore, the survey indicated that three massive vessels with a capacity of over +18,000 TEU each emerged from repair yards to once again contribute to maritime trade.

As a result of these developments, the overall inactive capacity, including both idle and vessels under repair, accounted for 3.1% of the entire cellular container fleet by the end of July. This represents a decline from the 3.3% reported at the midpoint of the previous month, indicating a subtle but noteworthy shift in the industry landscape.

While the carrier-controlled segment experienced a decline in idle tonnage over the fortnight, the non-operating owners (NOO) sector demonstrated a higher level of activity, particularly in the smaller size categories. A marked increase was observed in the number of vessels idled by NOOs, with a total of 21 units and a combined capacity of 42,297 TEU idled by the end of July. This represents a notable rise of 7 vessels and 25,565 TEU from figures recorded just a fortnight prior. Notably, NOO-controlled tonnage now constitutes a significant 17% of the commercially idled fleet, reflecting a significant surge from the 6% reported in mid-July.

The balance between carrier-controlled and NOO-controlled idle capacity has also experienced a shift, with carrier-controlled capacity dropping to 83% of the total commercially idled tonnage. This marks a significant decline from the 94% reported a fortnight before, resulting in a tally of 60 ships with a cumulative capacity of 213,415 TEU.

Lastly, the survey documented the state of ships within repair yards, encompassing those undergoing maintenance, repair, retrofitting, and conversion. The end of July saw a total of 151 ships, with a combined capacity of 571,671 TEU, in various stages of repair. This indicates a net reduction of 23,266 TEU compared to figures from just two weeks prior, suggesting a steady progression towards active duty.

As the maritime industry continues to navigate through a dynamic landscape, these recent trends in the global inactive container ship fleet highlight the intricate balance between idled and active vessels, offering insights into the sector’s resilience and adaptability.

Source: Clarkssons, Alphaliner.

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