As a percentage of the existing fleet, the orderbook currently stands at 23 per cent, the lowest level since nine years ago in April 2003, based on Alphaliner records.
The orderbook could fall below three million TEU or less than 20 per cent of the fleet by the end of the year, said the Paris-based maritime consultancy and research agency.
On the plus side, low newbuilding prices have attracted owners' interest, given that the difficulty of raising funds has limited firm orders even among owners disposed to buy.
The largest newbuilding orders are for ten 13,800-TEUers atHyundai for Evergreen, but the deal hinges on the outcome of a letter of intent in April with KIAMCO (Korea Infrastructure Investments Asset Management Co) to fund the construction of the ships with a long term lease to Evergeen, said Alphaliner.
Tight money has also delayed building feeders, including Graig Shipping's series of 2,000-TEU Bangkokmaxers as well as a number of 2,400-TEU feeders, being promoted by German owners.