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Containership charter market hits highs never seen before

CONTAINER charter deals are in unknown territory, sealing record high rates for unheard of lengths of time as operators pay top dollar to take any available tonnage

10 May 2021 - 19:00
CONTAINER charter deals are in unknown territory, sealing record high rates for unheard of lengths of time as operators pay top dollar to take any available tonnage.

As an example, Israeli carrier Zim has taken the 9,034 TEU Seamax Niantic for a five-year employment with Alphaliner suggesting the Eli Glickman-led company is paying US$50,000 a day for the ship.



Zim, which relies on charters more than owning, is also reported to have fixed the 8,586-TEU sisters Gulf Bridge and Mediterranean Bridge for an even longer period of six years at an undisclosed rate.



Ships fixed this month are creating new milestones - as well as potential milestones if the markets turn sour anytime soon, reports Singapore's Splash 247.



'There is no end in sight to the current strong market, with the squeeze of supply showing no sign of easing in the medium term, while demand remains robust across all ship sizes,' Alphaliner noted in its most recent report.



'Charterers will, at least until the summer, continue to struggle to find the tonnage they need to cover their requirements, having no other choice but to accept the terms offered by owners to fix the few ships that become available for charter,' noted Alphaliner.



The Alphaliner charter rate index is at its highest level since 2005 while freight rates are close to record levels and the prices for second-hand box tonnage have shot up in recent months.



French shipping giant CMA CGM has fixed six Chinese-flagged classic panamaxes ranging in size from 4,200 to 5,000 TEU that would normally operate on the intra-China trades. The ships have been taken for two years at around $37,500 a day.



CMA CGM has also just fixed the 4,957 TEU for up to 40 months at $40,500 per day, a new high for wide beam tonnage, up by $5,000 from the previous benchmark set at the end of February.



US carrier Matson has fixed the 4,380-TEU Dioryx for up to 30 months at $41,000 per day, a new high for this ship size.



In the Atlantic, a geared 3,600-TEU unit, the Chopin, secured a five-year charter extension, something Alphaliner noted was an unusually long duration for a ship of this size.



The latest Container Ship Time Charter Assessment Index (ConTex) published by the Hamburg and Bremen Shipbrokers' Association shows that even ships in the 1,100-TEU category are now being taken for two-year or longer durations.



'Activity is mainly dictated by tonnage availability as there are still several parties interested in every vessel that is potentially coming open,' the ConTex report stated.


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