Ship scrapyards are lining up for a busy period following reports that the world’s major PCTC owners could be ditching 25 per cent of their stock.
Older tonnage – built between 1978-1998 – is being targeted as car carriers slash capacity in the wake of falling car sales around the world.
NYK Line’s Vice President Svein Steimler told Lloyd’s List this week that the company was “proactively looking to scrap ships” and Lloyd’s predicted that around 200 ships built in the ten years up to the late '80s could be broken up.
The comments follow an earlier call from Taiwan Maritime Transportation’s Chief Executive, Nobu Su, for shippers to demolish aging carriers (including obsolete car carriers) and halt the collapse in rental rates.
A more measured response from Norway’s Hoegh Autoliners indicated that the company had made provision for a projected level of overcapacity following recent growth but had not quite anticipated the rate of change.
“We have for some time expected a short to medium term tonnage overcapacity in the world fleet," said Hoegh’s Vice President Olav Sollie, "and have prepared accordingly – although the dip is steeper than previously expected. Our fleet consists of a core fleet of modern flexible vessels and additional capacity through a mix of smaller and older vessels and chartered-in tonnage. Several means are considered to adjust the fleet to current conditions, for example slow steaming or re-delivery of chartered vessels.”
Slow steaming has been in practice for some time as car and container carriers have looked to reduce operational costs and reduce fuel consumption. Now they are embracing a range of similar strategies with the added impetus of a drastically reduced cargo.