Idled ocean container capacity has reached a record 800,000 TEUs with 303 ships at anchor.
Idled ocean container capacity has reached a record 800,000 TEUs with 303 ships at anchor as carriers cut or consolidate services on key east-west routes amid declining traffic and freight rates. The unemployed figure represents 6.5 percent of the world fleet, twice the 3.2 percent recorded in the depth of the 2002 bear market, according to AXS-Alphaliner, a Paris-based consultant. That figure was calculated before Senator Lines announced its shutdown.
The idled fleet grew by 48 ships of 125,000 TEUs in the last two weeks of January and is set to increase as carriers further retrench operations, Alphaliner predicts. On Oct. 25, 2008, there were just 70 ships of 150,000 TEUs without work.
The jobless fleet includes nine vessels of between 7,500 TEUs and 10,000 TEUs capacity, 34 ships of 5,000 to 7,500 TEUs and 57 of 3,000 to 5,000 TEUs. The feeder sector remains the most vulnerable with 85 ships of 1,000 to 2,000 TEUs lying at anchor.
The rising number of unemployed vessels is reflected in the 15 percent reduction in total capacity on offer on the three main east-west routes over the six months to Feb. 1, according to Alphaliner. Capacity has fallen from a weekly 916,000 TEUs to 780,000 TEUs.
The Far East-Europe trade has seen the deepest cuts, with capacity tumbling 21 percent to 333,000 TEUs from 418,000 TEUs. The closure of several service loops in December and January alone removed 50,000 TEUs of weekly capacity, which is now down to its lowest level since May 2007.
Capacity on the Far East-North America trades has fallen 9 percent to 335,000 TEUs from 376,000 TEUs, and the Europe/Med-North America route is down 4.5 percent to 116,000 TEUs from 121,500 TEUs.