Container fleet expansion to accelerate in 2020

The container shipping fleet will grow by 3.5% this year, according to the latest figures from Alphaliner.

The box fleet is expected to grow from 23.23 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) at the beginning of 2020 to reach 24.05 million TEUs by the end of the year.

The annual fleet growth of 3.5% will mainly be driven by the planned deliveries of 1.14 million TEUs of new ships this year, with only minimal slippage expected.

“Most of the larger vessels newbuildings will likely be delivered on schedule and delays are only expected for some of the smaller tonnage aimed at the domestic trades. Scrapping and other deletions are expected to reach 300,000 TEU this year, an increase from the 207,500 TEU recorded in 2019,” reported Alphaliner.

While the scrapping rate is expected to remain slow in the first half of the year, the pace is forecast to pick up in the second half.

“The scrubber retrofit wave, which had taken more than 1 million TEU of capacity out of circulation at the end of 2019, is expected to continue through all of the first half of the year,” reported the analyst.

“It will gradually subside in the second half of 2020, as more ships complete their retrofit programs.

“The vessels’ return to service will eventually see some older and less efficient ships sent to the scrapyards,” Alphaliner said.

Effective fleet growth, excluding the inactive fleet, currently stands at just 0.1% on a year-on-year basis. According to Alphaliner, this is significantly lower than the total fleet growth of 4.0% due to the large number of inactive ships. “Together, ships currently under retrofit and those queuing at anchorage and waiting to be retrofitted, presently account for some 75% of the 1.41 million TEU of inactive tonnage,” it added.