Idle Container Ship Fleet Stabilizes in March Amidst Global Shipping Trends

Idle Container Ship Fleet Stabilizes in March Amidst Global Shipping Trends

The idle container ship fleet, which had been on a declining trend since early December due to the Red Sea conflict and subsequent service diversions, has shown stabilization in the first half of March. Alphaliner’s recent surveys indicate a minor uptick of 10,460 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu) in overall capacity, bringing the idle fleet to 73 ships and 187,755 teu as of March 11th.

This slight increase, however, represents only 0.7% of the global cellular fleet, suggesting nearly full employment of container ships. Despite this stabilization, mainline carriers are still planning to inject more vessel capacity into east-west services rerouted around Africa, indicating ongoing demand for shipping services.

The supply of ultra-large container vessels remained tight in early March, with only two ships idle in the above 12,500 teu sector. Additionally, traditional maintenance activities during this typically ‘slow’ time of the year have seen vessels sent to shipyards for regular upkeep.

While the demand for vessel capacity continues to be inflated by Cape diversions, the seasonal drydocking peak in 2024 is slightly lower compared to previous years, owing to sustained strong tonnage demand. Alphaliner reported 129 ships for 480,515 teu ‘in yards,’ marking an increase of 11 ships and 93,931 teu from the previous fortnight. This represents 1.7% of the global fleet, down from 3.2% a year ago, reflecting shifts in industry dynamics.

Source: Alphaliner

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