The Construction Market of Ultra-large Container Vessels Under The Influence of The Pandemic

Recently, the order quantity of ultra-large container vessels has increased, but the novel coronavirus outbreak will still lead to a decline and a delay in orders.

Upward trend has shown in the field of ultra-large container vessels after a round of stalled orders for new shipbuilding orders,  adding great confidence to the shipyards that have the ability to build the largest scale of the container.

Under current situation, it is hard to see where those ultra-large container vessels will load the goods, especially the largest type of the ultra-large container vessels, of which the latest orders  are all record breaking. The shipowners are concentrating on producing the vessels with the capacity of 26,000TEU, which is the largest size of the ship that the shipyard can build at present. Is it a miscalculated gamble or a mad attempt by the big shipowners to knockdown the small ones? At present, there are eight new ships on order above the class of 23,700TEU, and it seems that the shipowners are competing on the specifications.

Although there is no sign of shipowners abandoning their ships at the moment, the shipyards in China and Korea are likely to make delivery delays of about three months in the face of the global economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, which the shipowners will also like to see.

Recently, ,there are some changes in the condition of the lucvrative Asia-Europe trade route, which is the main shipping  area of the ultra-large container vessels. And though the freight rates on the westbound trade routes have fallen, ships can still return laden with goods when they leave Europe. However, the coronavirus outbreak will have an adverse impact on business and finance, and it is inevitable that the whole container ship field will also be affected. Shippers will turn to smaller ship types to meet their cargo and position requirements, and this trend has become apparent in recent weeks as the traditional  reefer container business has been the hottest industry for years.

Faced with the rising price of the shipping space on large container vessels, shipowners prefer the mode of transport which is related to the traditional ship pallet on frozen container. For ultra-large container vessels, there are more trading opportunities on routes outside Europe and Asia. In North America, some ports have added water depths and built new berths for ultra-large container vessels and new business have also started even though the vessels may not be fully loaded. Trade from Middle Eastern Ports is also increasing. However, the coronavirus outbreak in Europe is holding back the development of the industry.

The current order for ultra-large container vessels is 48, which will eventually bring 1,099,676 TEU of new capacity by 2024. Of the 48 ships, 26 were scheduled to be delivered this year, but a delay of up to three months is now possible because of the coronavirus outbreak. Only two are currently scheduled for delivery in 2021, reflecting a backlog of orders lasting about 12 to 18 months, which also states the excessive concerns of the market about new ship orders. The number of new ships scheduled to be delivered has risen to 15 by 2022, reflecting a rebound after the pause in new-ship business.

The order for 48 new ships comes from six large owners, including the ships from Imabari's Shoei Kisen, which will be chartered. In the field of container vessels, Japan has fallen far behind China and South Korea, which also claims that it is an unfair competition for competitors to lower their prices. In addition, Hapag-Lloyd is interested in placing an order to build six container vessels of about 23,000 TEU, and prior to the outbreak, he was in active discussions with the shipyards in China and South Korea, but now the project has been suspended due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.