Smaller Ships Prove Popular in New Services

The intra-Far East trade will continue to power the demand for containerships this year, as carriers develop further regional services within East Asia, said shipping analyst Alphaliner.

By the end of June, at least 33 new intra-Far East weekly loops will have been launched, based on Alphaliner records.

These 33 services absorb some 98 ships, surpassing all other tradelanes in terms of the number of ships taken in.

The majority of the new loops are focussed primarily on intra regional trade, whereas a few services are feeder-oriented.

The demand for vessels in the intra-Far East sector is spread across the 500-5,000 teu size range, propelling upwards the charter rates for these ships. Half of the vessels taken are in the 1,000-2,000 teu size, the traditional workhorse on the shortsea trades.

Such ships allow access to several popular, but size-restricted ports such as Bangkok, Haiphong and Yangon. A further 27 units of above 2,000 teu have also been introduced on the North Asia – South East Asia routes.

The largest ships used on new intra-Far East services this year are the 4,500 teu units deployed by OOCL on the carrier’s North China – Pusan-SE Asia (NPS) service, initially launched in January with 2,500 teu ships, but subsequently upgraded in the last two months to the 4,500 teu scale, Alphaliner’s data shows.

Demand for larger vessels on the other hand is driven by the transpacific trade, especially for the all-water FE-USEC route.

Six new FE-USEC strings launched since April this year will add some 60 ships on this route alone, including 50
panamax units.

According to Alphaliner’s data, the trades in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent prefer ships ranging from 1,000-2,000 TEU and those over 7,500 TEU.

Africa and Latin America related trades are dominated by ships over 7,500 TEU with over 20 ships added to new services.

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