Updated: Jun 16, 2020
The inactive containership fleet has renewed its climb, reaching 385 units for 2.20 Mteu as at 13 March, with more ships expected to join in the coming weeks. The number of blank sailings is expected to increase and the Labour Day holidays in May could trigger a new round of capacity cuts.
Anticipating the lack of cargo demand, several carriers have begun to slow down ships on backhaul legs, allowing the vessels to skip a week upon their return to Asia. In addition to this, more and more ships are now taking the longer Cape of Good Hope route on eastbound voyages from Europe and North America to Asia (see page 8). While such moves artificially cap the inactive fleet’s growth for the moment, they will not be sufficient to prevent its rise in May, when the number of blank sailings is expected to reach over 200 voyages.
With scrapyards on the Indian subcontinent affected by lockdowns, there is no avenue for owners to scrap the surplus ships in the short term, further adding to the growing pool of inactive tonnage. Several ships sold to scrap buyers prior to the lockdowns currently lie at anchor, waiting to be beached.