The total capacity of container vessels ordered so far this year has hit 1.04 million teu, or 60% more in capacity terms than the level of the same period of 2014, according to shipping analyst Alphaliner.
The new wave of orders is mainly focused on ships of above 18,000teu, with orders for 39 units of 18,000-21,000teu already placed in the first half of this year, Alphaliner's data shows.
The latest contract was concluded last week, when Maersk Line ordered 11 ships of 19,630teu from Daewoo of South Korea (DSME) and took options for six additional units of the same type. These second generation Triple-E (EEE) vessels will add to the 20 ’EEE’-class vessels of 18,340teu that Maersk ordered in 2011.
This latest deal brings the total number of 18,000-21,000teu ships ordered so far to 88.
"Eight carriers have now joined the order fray for these next-generation-ULCS, which brings into question the future of the carriers that are staying away from ordering such ships (so far), which is fast becoming de rigueur for carriers on the Far East-Europe trade," Alphaliner said.
Maersk, CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) continue to pull ahead of their competition.
CMA CGM, which in March ordered three 20,600teu ULCS at Hanjin Heavy Industries, is currently moving ahead with its plan to build six 14,000teu neo-panamax ships (19 rows) at Hyundai H.I. aimed at the FE-US trades.
These vessels will be the largest ships capable of transiting the new Panama Canal locks, scheduled to open in 2016. Their declared nominal intake surpasses the 13,200teu capacity of the largest current neo-panamaxes. However, CMA CGM's new ships appear to be initially aimed at the FE-USWC trades and will thus not be making any Panama transits.
The company has just welcomed into the fleet two of its biggest ships, the most recent one being the 18,000teu CMA CGM Georg Forster. This gigantic vessel, forms part of a series of six sister vessels named after great explorers. The first ship from the series, the 17,722teu CMA CGM Kerguelen, was delivered by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries in Busan, South Korea, to the company in April.
In March, MSC took delivery of its second 19,224teu container ship – MSC Oliver – two months after its record breaking sister ship MSC Oscar was inaugurated at the DSME shipyard in Busan, South Korea. MSC Oliver is the second of a total of twenty mega-vessels which are scheduled for delivery by the end of the year.