World container fleet: three million teu now 20 years or older

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World container fleet: three million teu now 20 years or older
Just under 3.0 Mteu of cellular containership capacity is twenty years old and over, a significant reservoir of ships that could be tapped into for scrapping, as one way of mitigating the growing overcapacity in the industry.
The world cellular fleet aged twenty year and over currently counts around 1,200 vessels for a total capacity of about 2.9 Mteu. In number of vessels, it represents just over 20% of the total fleet of cellular ships, currently standing at 5,890 units, with around 680 vessels in carriers’ hands and just over 500 in owners’ hands. In terms of transport capacity, it only accounts for 10.5% of the world fleet, which currently aggregates 27.6 Mteu.
This suggests that most of these older ships are relatively small by today’s standards, with only 314 vessels having capacities of 3,000 teu and above, while 886 vessels have capacities below 3,000 teu.
Only a few of the twenty years old and over ships have meanwhile been ‘adapted’ to decarbonization with less than a hundred vessels fitted with ex- haust gas-scrubbers, based on Alphaliner data.

Who controls this vintage container fleet?
When looking at the shipping lines, MSC is by far the single carrier with the larg- est fleet of vessels aged twenty and over. According to Alphaliner data, the Ge- neva-based carrier is believed to currently own a fleet of about 212 vessels for a total capacity of 718,000 teu, that is close to 25% of the whole twenty year- old and over cellular fleet. Quite remarkably, 145 of the 330 second- hand liner vessels that MSC bought since it embarked on a historic buying spree in August 2020 are cellular container vessels aged 20 years and older.

Maersk comes in as the second largest owner of older tonnage, with 48 vessels in this age group, followed by Evergreen (36 units), the Indonesian carrier Tanto Intim Line (23) and Hapag-Lloyd (20). Anoth- er Indonesian carrier, Salam Pasifik is next on the list (19 ships), fol- lowed by COSCO SHIPPING (18), Arkas, CMA CGM and PIL (16 each).
As far as Non-Operating owners (NOOs) are concerned, the top-30 owners with the most units of twenty years and over are Global Ship Lease (GSL – 25 units), followed by Costamare, Conbulk and Danaos (15 each). Then come NSB Nierderelbe (12) and SFL Corporation (9). The rest of the fleet in this age group, the biggest part, is highly frag- mented.

Demolition remains low
The demolition of twenty year old and over tonnage aggregated only 70 vessels for 140,000 teu so far this year. That leaves, in theory, a large recycling potential for the next few years.
However, many vessels remain in sound technical condition or per- fectly fit for certain trades where very little -or no replacement- is on the way. This is especially true in the smaller sizes. As a result, a lot of ships in this age group will likely continue to trade in the coming years, especially carrier tonnage, irrespective of the market head- winds or tougher environmental regulations.
However, Alphaliner anticipates that a significant number of NOO- controlled vessels of 1,000-1,900 teu, as well as mid-size units of 4,000-7,500 teu will increasingly suffer from the competition of mod- ern, compact and energy-efficient tonnage.
Many of these older ships, especially those without scrubbers, could thus be forced to gradually exit the trade or be relegated into some second-tier markets with fewer and less remunerative employment possibilities.
That could potentially benefit scrapping in some way, a welcome de- velopment in view of the current massive deliveries of newbuilding tonnage.
But with the latter hitting 2.4 Mteu in 2023, a staggering 3.0 Mteu in 2024, and nearly 2.0 Mteu in 2025, compared to the 1.0 Mteu of new capacities delivered on average every year over the past decade, recycling in the twenty year old and over age group will need to be much more ambitious to have any tangible impact on the fast-rising overcapacity.

Source: Alphaliner

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