A trio of global carriers have dusted off newbuild megamax plans in recent weeks and are now ready to sign for a total of twenty 23,000 teu ships, adding close to half a million slots to the global fleet, with LNG propulsion set to feature for some of the ships.
The news comes as the containership orderbook currently sits at multi-year lows with very little scheduled to deliver after next year.
According to the latest Alphaliner data, the orderbook to existing ratio today stands at just 8.4%, the lowest level seen since 1970. This marks the first time that the metric has ducked below 10% this century.
The three liners who have recently reentered discussions for ultra large container vessels are Hapag-Lloyd, Ocean Network Express (ONE) and Cosco, along with its subsidiary OOCL. All three had made plans earlier for fleet expansion, which were shelved earlier in the year when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic.
“We can confirm we have recently reached out to several shipyards,” a spokesperson for Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd said.
Splash Extra understands the German carrier is keen to order six 23,000 teu class ships that will be powered by LNG fuel.
ONE is looking at ordering seven similar-sized ships with the line in discussions with yards in South Korea as well as Imabari Shipbuilding in Japan.
“ONE is studying newbuilds, but nothing is yet firm and ready for public announcement at the moment,” a spokesperson for the Japanese line said.
Cosco, in conjunction with its Hong Kong subsidiary OOCL, is nearly ready to order seven ships on Chinese soil that Splash Extra understands will be close to 24,000 teu in size. Cosco officials declined to comment when contacted by Splash Extra.
Commenting on the renewed containership newbuild speculation, Simon Heaney, Drewry’s senior manager for container research, said: “We think such orders – assuming they materialise – will be anomalies and won’t trigger a stampede.”