Liners are having to seek out multipurpose (MPP) ships to cope with extraordinary demand and sky high rates across container shipping tradelanes.
“The dearth of cellular container tonnage in the charter market is forcing some carriers to tap into the multipurpose market to cover their needs, targeting ships with good speeds and high container intakes,” Alphaliner noted in its most recent weekly report.
Charter rates for box tonnage have leapt in the past few months and available tonnage has become very tight.
Broker Braemar ACM’s containership time charter BOXi index stands at 118.64 points, more than twice as high as year-low figures near the start of 2020 with rates continuing to firm across the board.
“It is now becoming the norm for owners to demand periods in excess of 12 months in all sectors,” Braemar ACM pointed out in a recent report.
Faced with limited options, liners are now turning to MPP options.
South Korea’s HMM, for instance, has fixed the MPV Thalia, a 30,000 dwt MPP, capable of carrying 1,888 teu for up to six months, according to Alphaliner. The Korean operator is also about to deploy a sister ship onto its liner network, while Indonesia’s Samudera has taken the MPV Clio on a medium-term charter starting next month.
Other MPP owners are offering their ships to containerlines for hire amid an almost unprecedented supply chain crunch for the liner industry, which is enjoying high freight rates while battling severe equipment shortages brought about by strong demand, led by the United States.