H1 2021 box ship newbuild order market up a staggering 790% compared with H1 2020
Container ship ordering is at a record high – with orders for the first half of 2021 reaching 286 box ships versus just 32 in 2020. And even though H1 2020 orders may have been affected by the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still hugely higher than the 53 ships ordered in 2019 and almost triple the 100 ordered in 2018.
VesselsValue head cargo analyst Olivia Watkins told CST, “The ordering market for container ships is at historic highs. Ordering over the last half year has seen 2.5M TEU, with 286 container ships ordered year-to-date 2021. This is up an incredible 790% compared with year-to-date 2020.
“The current container market has increased owners’ and operators’ confidence, which has led to an ordering spree across the sector. Currently the orderbook stands at 18% of the fleet, the highest since the last peak around 2008.”
She said in the first six months of this year, the 286 container ships ordered are worth US$21.52Bn, compared with 120 container ships valued at US$8.8Bn for all of last year and 106 vessels worth US$6.8Bn in 2019.
Ms Watkins added, “Newbuild orders at this half-year mark are also almost triple previous half-year highs.”
The biggest player, according to VesselsValue, within the H1 2021 container ship newbuild market is Seaspan Corp, which has ordered 40 vessels at a total of 603,000 TEU capacity. Second is Evergreen Marine Corp, which has ordered 23 vessels at a total of 348,000 TEU. Third is CMA CGM, with an order for 22 vessels at 223,000 TEU. Next is Wan Hai Lines’ whose order of 41 vessels reaches 174,972 TEU, followed by HMM, with 12 vessels at 156,000 TEU.
The most popular type of container ship to be ordered during the first six months of 2021 is the new panamax, with an order of 112 vessels of this type. Next up, VesselsValue data shows that there are 23 post-panamax orders.
The trend for ultra-large container ships is still going strong, with 18 orders. These include Hapag-Lloyd’s order of six 23,500-TEU ships, with delivery expected from 2024.
Then there are 14 orders for sub-panamax, 47 handy container ship orders and 16 feedermax orders.
The record ordering of container ships is a sign of the current buoyant container ship market, which is enjoying rocketing freight rates and strong earnings.
Looking ahead, Ms Watkins commented, “Container values are expected to carry on firming throughout 2022, with container earnings showing no sign of slowing down. Demand growth in 2021 is expected to improve 5.3% from 2019 pre-Covid levels, with 2020 having declined 0.7%. The demand increase is supported by continued online purchasing but is expected to ease up as the vaccination programmes take hold and mobility starts to normalise. Imports to the US are showing the highest-ever volumes from Asia over the first five months ahead of the summer peak season. This is testament to the shift in spending on goods during the pandemic.”
She said the “record” ordering that has taken place over the last six months has significantly contributed to the now 4.9M TEU on order across the container ship sector.
But Ms Watkins added this ordering “is expected to slow down in the second half of 2021 as steel prices remain high and yard availability continues to tighten”.
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