New Records Achieved In Containership Deliveries

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  • A record-breaking 2.3 million TEU of container ship capacity was delivered, surpassing the former all-time high by 37%.
  • The order book’s share of the fleet is more than twice the size it was before the COVID pandemic and liner operators’ contracting spree began.
  • Between 2019 and 2023, the fleet grew by 21% while container volumes only grew by 4%. A further 15% growth in the fleet is anticipated between 2023 and 2025.

In 2023, a record-breaking 2.3 million TEU of container ship capacity was delivered, surpassing the former all-time high by 37%. In the first four months of 2024 alone, over 1 million TEU has been delivered, marking an almost 80% increase compared to the previous record, according to Niels Rasmussen, BIMCO’s Chief Shipping Analyst.

Container ship deliveries hit new YTD record

Due to record deliveries, the order book has declined somewhat. However, as 1.8 million TEU of further capacity has been contracted during 2023 and 2024, the order book has only dropped by 1 million TEU and now stands at 6.1 million TEU, 21% of the current fleet size. As a result, the order book’s share of the fleet is more than twice the size it was before the COVID pandemic and liner operators’ contracting spree began.

The order book contains 2 million TEU for delivery in 2024 and delivery volumes for the year are on target to exceed 3 million TEU, 30% higher than last year’s record. In 2025, deliveries should end just below 2 million TEU, the third highest deliveries in one year only exceeded in 2023 and 2024.

Despite this, deliveries are still some way off the record for expansion compared to the size of the existing fleet. In 2024, deliveries are expected to reach 11% of fleet capacity at the beginning of the year. In 2008 new deliveries made up 14% of the fleet.

The record high ship deliveries were expected to create significant oversupply in the market, and while this did impact the market in 2023, it appears that deliveries this year instead contributed to keeping global container trade moving.

Due to the rerouting of ships via the Cape of Good Hope following attacks in the Red Sea by Houthis, about 10% more capacity is needed to manage global container trades. The capacity needed to manage any market growth should be added to that 10%.

It’s anticipated that as ships resume routes through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, oversupply may become more pronounced. Between 2019 and 2023, the fleet grew by 21% while container volumes only grew by 4%. A further 15% growth in the fleet is anticipated between 2023 and 2025.

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Source: BIMCO