Despite concerns of overcapacity, global container shipping companies have demonstrated a strong appetite for new vessels. In fact, the Bimco shipping association expects the total container shipping fleet capacity to grow by 5.9 percent in 2013. For example, Maersk Line has taken delivery of 5 mega ships with a capacity of 18,270 TEU each this year and another 16 sister ships will be finished by DSME shipyard in South Korea, and delivered within the next year and a half.
According to Alphaliner, the order book of the three largest carriers, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company and CMA CGM, currently stands at 15.6 percent of their existing fleet. The combined order book of the next 18 carriers has reached 19.8 percent of their existing fleet.
"The largest carriers continue to enjoy significant scale advantages, with Maersk and CMA CGM, the first and third largest carriers, continuing to outperform the rest of the industry,"- Alphaliner.
In addition to ordering new ships aimed at lowering operating costs, Maersk Line, the global market leader with nearly 600 container vessels, says it plans to increase spot rates on routes from Asia to Northern Europe by $750 per TEU with effect from December 15 2013, a 75 percent increase if they are successful. Competing liners such as Zim Lines, Orient Overseas Container Line, Hanjin Shipping and Hapag-Lloyd have also announced similar rate increases taking effect in mid-December 2013.