Container vessel capacity delivered in 2015 has reached a new record as 212 new cellular containerships, with a total capacity of 1,714,860 teu, have joined the global fleet over the course of this year, according to Alphaliner Research.
The capacity influx from newbuildings therewith clearly exceeded the previous records of 1,527,800 teu, recorded in 2008, and 1,466,870 teu, delivered in 2014.
Carriers were apparently undeterred by weakening market conditions last year and continued their big-ship strategies – ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) representing 24% of the total cellular orderbook.
As a result of the severe over-capacity, the idle containership fleet has surged in the second half of 2015. It has now reached a five-year high, with some 1.3 Mteu of capacity unemployed.
The analyst warned that the “ongoing race” between carriers within the four east-west vessel-sharing alliances to have the lowest unit costs, by reason of the highest nominal capacity, would add to further overcapacity pressures, due to the high number of ULCVs to be delivered in the coming years.
The year’s high fleet growth proved to be unsustainable, as idle containership capacity soared to 1.36 Mteu at the end of 2015, compared to only 0.23 Mteu at the beginning of the year.
However, these weak market conditions failed to deter owners from ordering more containerships. A total of 255 vessels was ordered last year with a total capacity of 2.34 Mteu.
The value all containerships contracted over the course of the last year reached an estimated $20.2 Bn, 98% higher than in 2014.
A fair number of these newbuilding contracts was driven by the new IMO Tier III requirements, which prompted some owners to bring forward planned orders. This way, the more expensive solutions required to meet the stricter emission standards for ships with keels laid after 1 January 2016, could be avoided.