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Container Carriers Ordering More Vessels: What it Means for the Future of the Industry


In an effort to combat the lack of capacity and the equipment shortages plaguing the global supply chain in 2021, ocean carriers have ordered a staggering number of new vessels in anticipation for the increased shipping demand not likely to slow down any time soon.


Huge Growth and Shifting Focus

The top ten major container carriers have ordered over 500,000 TEU in new capacity so far in 2021, making up a sizable chunk of the whopping 3.44 million TEU total ordered this year. BIMCO Analyst Peter Sand recently reported, “619 container ships are now on order for future delivery. Of those, 381 have been ordered in 2021 alone and never has 3.44m TEU been ordered in such a short time span,".


In preparation for the future, carriers are shifting their focus from larger-capacity ships to the smaller and more versatile 13,000 to 16,000 TEU ships. Prioritizing the smaller ships helps ensure adaptability to emerging trade lanes. Additionally, many new ships will be outfitted with emissions-cleaning scrubbers to comply with low-sulfur rules implemented in 2020 by the International Maritime Organization.


A Slow Treatment to Ongoing Problems

Carriers are placing these orders in anticipation of continued bottlenecks that they’re currently experiencing. While relief is needed now, receiving help through the additional capacity will take years. For example, the orders placed this year will be delivered in late 2024 or 2025, and even those placed in previous years will still take more time to arrive in the hands of carriers. Overall, the total of over 5 million TEU on order is scheduled to reach the active fleet from 2023 onwards.


New vessels added to the active fleets may help future congestion issues but in the meantime, ongoing capacity shortages continue to keep shipping rates much higher than pre-covid levels and slowing down delivery times. Moreover, additional ships will not necessarily solve all congestion issues. The entire system will require a boost in capacity to receive and process the ships and their payloads to avoid a domino effect of increasing dwell times and anchorage backups.


Even though a logistic partner like ClearFreight can’t completely eliminate port and congestion issues, we can help you navigate the troubled waters of today’s global supply chain and offer the best options suited for your businesses needs. Contact an expert at ClearFreight today to hear how our customized supply chain solutions and expert advice can help change your logistics from troubled waters to smooth sailing.

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