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Record 4.2m teu in containerships ordered last year

Freight revenue and containership charter day rates attained new records last year in spite of disruption on major trade lanes including port congestion and equipment imbalances, according to analysis by Clarkson Research.

Average freight rates for a twenty-foot container from Shanghai to Europe rose more than fourfold – from $1,204 to $6,119 – while charter rates for a 4,400 teu gearless Panamax shot up from $14,012 to $67,123, the analysts noted.

Fleet capacity remained moderate at 4.5%, but market metrics proved the catalyst in a spate of new contracting. A record 548 ships of 4.2m teu were ordered during the year, taking the contracted total to 5.7m teu, 23% of fleet capacity and more than double the end-2020 figure of 11%.

New ship prices rose sharply, up by about 30% across the board but more for larger ships. A 15,500 teu gearless neo-panamax, for example, cost around $106m at the beginning of the year but by the year-end, its price had risen to $155m, Clarkson said.

Despite the buoyant market, ship speeds are down on 2008 levels by about 24% and 33% of fleet capacity is now ‘eco-modern’. Almost a quarter of ships on order will operate on alternative fuels and about 700 container vessels are now equipped with at least one energy-saving technology.

“Material supply pressure looks likely in 2023,” the analysts predicted, “but after an extraordinary 2021, with expectations of prolonged disruption and a positive start, all eyes are on whether 2022 will be a case of repeat viewing.”   

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