Ocean freight carriers are due to be introducing numerous newly built ULCVs (Ultra Large Container Vessels) during the next few weeks, despite the fall off in demand on the East-West tradelanes.

MSC are reportedly due to introduce four new 24,000 TEU ships between March and April, while carriers throughout all three networks have ships just completed, or near completion, in Asian shipyards.

In fact, the much sought after title of the world’s largest container ship is due to change hands several times this year. The 24,188 teu ‘OOCL Spain’, delivered last week, is expected to gain the accolade before the arrival of the 24,346 teu ‘MSC Irina’ arrives next month.

However, the addition of so many new build ships could not come at a worst time for steamship lines, with demand on markets, especially Asia/Europe and Asia/North America, being especially low right now.

Carriers could decide to postpone the maiden voyages of some of these ULCVs, and choose to introduce them into service later in the year. Otherwise, they run the risk of their first journeys being blanked.

ULCVs can cost upwards of $200 million and take 2-3 years to build, therefore market conditions were more favourable for carriers when these orders were confirmed.



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