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Second box ship cascade 'potentially more destructive' than the first

LONDON's Drewry Maritime Research sees the second cascade of bigger box ships from the Asia-Europe run to the smaller north-south trades as "potentially more destructive" than the first, reports Lloyd's Loading List.

Second box ship cascade 'potentially more destructive' than the first

LONDON's Drewry Maritime Research sees the second cascade of bigger box ships from the Asia-Europe run to the smaller north-south trades as "potentially more destructive" than the first, reports Lloyd's Loading List.

Second box ship cascade 'potentially more destructive' than the first
08 November 2016 - 21:51

Second box ship cascade 'potentially more destructive' than the first
LONDON's Drewry Maritime Research sees the second cascade of bigger box ships from the Asia-Europe run to the smaller north-south trades as "potentially more destructive" than the first, reports Lloyd's Loading List.
"The second phase of the cascade will be even more difficult for carriers to manage. The bigger ships that will need to be moved will stretch the ability of ports to handle them," said Drewry.
Ten years after the launch of Maersk's E-class ships that brought about a leap in ship sizes, the introduction of mega ships started a race to catch up that has pushed on to building of 20,000 TEUers.
This, Drewry says, has had huge consequences for the industry, representing one of the biggest for carriers. 
With the biggest ships locked into the Asia-Europe trade due to port handling limitations elsewhere, carriers have to shuffle smaller, but still large, ships into new trade lanes.
"It is fair to say that carriers have not been entirely successfully in cracking the cascade conundrum over the past decade since the arrival of Emma and her sisters," Drewry said. 
"The phasing of ex-Asia-Europe ships into new lanes has routinely destabilised the new homes and has been a major contributing factor towards persistently low freight rates."
Drewry also said the slowdown in demand that coincided with the arrival of the mega ships had increased the industry's overcapacity and meant that for years carriers' deployment decisions were less than optimal. 
"Deciding where to use their biggest assets has most often been based on necessity rather than demand - the lack of alternatives means they are generally hoping for the least bad decision," said Drewry's Container Insight Weekly.
"The 10-year anniversary of Emma Maersk's arrival also marks the point at which the first phase of the cascade could be said to be over. 
Drewry's latest Container Forecaster reports that the average size of vessel on the Asia-North Europe trade is nearly as big as Maersk's E-class units at 14,600 TEU, and there are now only seven sub-10,000 TEU ships left on the route."
Having nearly exhausted the stock of vessels of that size, a number of 18,000 TEU ships are now scheduled for delivery, with 1.3 million TEU in total due before 2020.
"While the pressure to cascade ships is intensifying thanks to the new ULCVs [ultra large container vessels], carriers in the Asia-North Europe trade now have less low-hanging fruit they can easily pick off and redeploy elsewhere," said Drewry.
"Aside from the dwindling number of "10K ships, there aren't many obvious candidates in the next few upper size ranges.
"As of September, there were only 19 ships below 13,000 TEU - sum of nearly 200,000 TEU - deployed in the trade, which is only a third of the potential new ULCV capacity hitting the water by the end of next year. 
"Extra demand will cover some of the shortfall, but to achieve headhaul ship utilisation above 90 per cent next year, carriers will probably need to clear out everything below 13K and a sizeable chunk of the 13-14K fleet."

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