Unless the time charter rates and the market in general starts to really improve within the next 12-24 months, the situation - not just for the many German owners of small and medium-sized container ships, but for carriers in general - could be quite painful, says Thomas Preben Hansen, CEO of Singapore-listed Rickmers Maritime, part of German Rickmers Group, and which has spent the past five years working to significantly reduce its debt.
"We expect to see an improvement of the market, but we don't believe in a significantly rising market in the near future. It will probably be 2015. But the number of container ships being scrapped right now looks promising, and there are very few small and medium-sized container ships in the order book. Meanwhile, the development of the global economy - not least for the United States and the EU - looks somewhat better than people dared hope 12 months ago," Thomas Preben Hansen tells ShippingWatch.