Here’s a breath of fresh air for struggling container ship owners — U.S. shippers are starting to worry about a shortage of container ships, due to the recent trade rebound on Transpacififc routes.
Cargo container traffic on the Asia to West Coast route will see modest growth this year after seeing a 16 per cent drop last year, but whether there will be enough ships to handle all that cargo in a timely fashion is another question. Major cargo container carriers, reeling from one of their worst years in history, idled about 11 per cent of the world’s cargo container fleet of 4,731 vessels between September 2008 and now. Many of those ships are mothballed off the coasts of Singapore, the Philippines and China.
Carriers also canceled about 6.7 per cent of new ship orders, and some pushed delivery off to 2013.
“I am not sure we will see a huge influx of tonnage [ships] coming back in,” said Eivind Kolding, chief executive of the Danish Maersk Line, the largest cargo container carrier in the world. “It simply isn’t economical at this stage.”
Thus a lot of ships were idled during the economic downturn and this dormant capacity is unlikely to come back online fast enough alongside a surge in shipping activity. It’s a tangible sign that the global trade rebound is both real and gaining steam.
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