18,000+ teu boxships set to double market share on Asia-North Europe by end of next year

Copenhagen-based box watchers SeaIntel are suggesting in a new report that ultra-large container vessels – with a nominal capacity in excess of 18,000 teu – will double their market share on the Asia-North Europe tradelane in the coming 17 months.

These giant ships currently have a 35% deployment share of the Asia to North Europe trade lane. If the capacity deployed on this trade lane grows by 5% annually for the next two years, SeaIntel predicts the share of ultra-large vessels will jump to 61% by the end of 2018 – double of what it is today.

There are 58 ultra-large vessels currently in operation, with 47 to be delivered – predominantly in 2017, and 2018, all likely to be phased into the Asia-North Europe trade lane.

SeaIntel warned the capacity injection could serve as a dampener on the future freight rate levels, as well as adding more stress to terminals on the trade lane.

SeaIntel CEO, Alan Murphy commented: “The ultra-large container vessels lead to an increase in massive bursts of containers to be handled at once, rather than being spread across the week, which can pose a major challenge to ports and terminals, and downstream on the hinterland.”

Finally, SeaIntel posited that assuming that the Asia-North Europe trade lane can only absorb an additional 5% capacity per year, the new mega-vessels being delivered will push out vessels currently in deployment, and as these vessels are too young to be considered for scrapping, they will have to be cascaded to other trade lanes, pushing the excess capacity to other markets.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I’m getting an odd sense of “deja vu”; it’s about twenty years since I was told by a colleague, slaving over a hot computer, that the numbers of 5,000 TEU+ “post panamaxes” looked like that.

    We are going to run out of planet.

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