Idle container fleet drops again

Following a rise in idle container capacity lasting since August 2011, volume is now falling for the first time, writes Alphaliner.

In mid March, the total capacity of idle ships was 913,000 teu (twenty foot containers), with volume down to 838,000 teu on March 26th. This means that the idle fleet constitutes 5.3 percent of the total container fleet, while it constituted 5.8 percent two weeks earlier, writes Alphaliner in its weekly newsletter.

This means that the idle fleet has dropped in capacity for the first time in seven months, while shipping companies have been redeploying ships in new services in anticipation of the summer peak season.

The number of idle container ships with more than 7,500 teu has dropped from 18 to 12 over those two weeks, and Alphaliner expects the trend to continue, so that all ships in the category will be back in service again from the beginning of May.

To make a ship idle means to lay it up, take it out of service for various reasons. This could be a ‘warm’ lay up, in which systems and crew are kept active onboard the ship, or a ‘cold’ lay up, where all electronic systems are shut down and the crew signed off. Thus, a cold lay up is significantly cheaper on a daily basis, but getting the ship back in service will take more time, as the crew needs to get back on board and the systems need to be restarted.   

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