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Cosco, ONE, Yang Ming and Maersk all tipped to order in next great wave of boxship expansion

The stunning amount of boxships ordered so far this year is set to continue with big names such as Cosco, Ocean Network Express (ONE), Yang Ming and Maersk all tipped to be in discussions with Asian yards.

More than 300 boxships were ordered in the first half of the year, according to data from Alphaliner. Combined with a healthy number of newbuilding contracts signed in late 2020, the 2021 order frenzy has gone from a low of 2.29m teu a year ago to 4.94m teu as of June 30.

The overall orderbook to fleet ratio has more than doubled from 9.4% a year ago to 19.9% at the end of H1, Alphaliner data shows.

July has also kicked off with sizeable deals for 7,000 teu ships for TS Lines and Seaspan.

In its most recent weekly report, Alphaliner suggested ONE is looking at adding more mainline ships, while Cosco is close to ordering six 13,000 teu vessels and fourteen 15,000 teu ships at its joint venture yards with Kawasaki Heavy in Nantong and Dalian.

Yang Ming, meanwhile, is being widely tipped to be closing on a contract for its first 24,000 teu class vessels, while Maersk is understood to be in touch with a Korean yard for larger methanol-fuelled ships, having made recent history with its order for a first 2,000 teu methanol-fuelled ship.

Assuming that these rumoured orders all go ahead, and assuming a few more top-up orders from other owners, the container ship orderbook might easily grow by another 1m teu slots to reach 6m teu, Alphaliner is predicting. The orderbook-to-fleet ratio would then reach about 24%.

Containership newbuild prices have leapt 15% so far this year.

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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