Higher prices signal greater optimism in the sector and a continued firming of demolition prices, said Braemar ACM Shipbroking, reports Oslo-based TradeWinds.
One hundred and ninety seven ships, totalling 750,000 TEU, were sold in the first eight months of 2017 up 60 per cent year on year, topping the 640,000-TEU record of 2015, according to Clarksons Research.
Sales also reflect the steady flow of tonnage from Germany. More than half the capacity sold since the start of 2013 has been disposed of by German owners, said Clarksons.
This has pushed sales in the 3,000-TEU to 8,000-TEU sector up to 400,000 TEU, compared with 120,000 TEU in the whole of 2016.
Recent sales include the 2,526-TEU Wehr Havel (built 2002) that sold for US$4.9 million which is about 25 per cent more than prices achieved for its sister ships earlier this year.
The Wehr Havel is reported sold to a Greek buyer and is the last of eight sister ships of the CV 2500 design formerly in the fleet of Reederei Oskar Wehr.
Four sister ships were sold in January and February including the 2,526-TEU Wehr Osteen (built 2002), which fetched $3.9 million. The ship is now in the fleet of Anhui Xinzhou Shipping, under the name Zhu Cheng Xin Zhou.
Brokers say charter rates for feeder ships are picking up in Asia, where small local operators are competing with larger carriers for replacement and additional tonnage.
That helped a 12-month rate for a 2,500-teu vessel rise to $8,700 per day, up about 50 per cent year on year, according to the ConTex index.
The sale of feeder vessels adds to the record number of second hand boxship sales this year.