CMB turns bearish on panamax boxships, sends 12-year-old twins for scrap

Belgium’s Bocimar has turned bearish about prospects for panamax container vessels, becoming the latest owner to scrap 12-year-old boxships.

The Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) affiliate had teamed up with US private equity interests early last year to buy up cheap panamax tonnage, but with rates sliding fast this year for this segment the Belgian outfit looks like it has had a change of heart on the future of panamaxes. The Bear Hunter and the Bull Hunter, both 4,800 teu ships built in 2004, which Bocimar, controlled by the Saverys family, bought from Japanese interests in January last year, have been sent for scrap. The price of $300 per ldt was among the highest achieved for any ship sent for scrap in the past couple of weeks.

Panamax boxships have been sent en masse for scrapping this year as rates for this ship size in particular have faded away. The youngest ship to date has been the ten-year-old Viktoria Wulff.

A report by BIMCO at the end of June highlighted how the panamax segment had seen 150,863 teu of scrapping in the first six months, the same volume as in the previous 18 months through to end December 2015.

Time charter rates for the panamax segment went down from the monthly average of $15,800 per day in March 2015 to a monthly average of $5,755 per day in July 2016, a drop of 63.5%.

“The expansion of the Panama Canal backs up the shift away from the segment of panamax ships which have a maximum beam of 32 metres, putting them in line for demolition,” BIMCO chief analyst Peter Sand noted in the report.


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.
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