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Ships up to 24,000teu capacity could soon be plying the Asia-Europe container trades, putting further pressure on rates, according to the latest analyst reports.

Asia-Europe spot rates are currently down a third compared to a year earlier after precipitous declines in recent weeks as supply continues to overwhelm demand.

Yet Seaintel now forecasts that the addition of new 10,000+ TEU capacity ships next year could boost capacity by as much as 9.5% unless lines cancel services or increase the use of blank sailings as a tool to control supply.

And even larger ships could soon be on the way as shipping executives look to new orders to help reduce fuel and slots costs to remain competitive despite the existing excess of supply. Liner representatives at a forum held by classification society DNV GL this week said demand for ever-bigger container vessels continued to be strong.

Jost Bergmann, business director of the classification society, said that it would soon be possible to build ultra-large containerships with a capacity of 24,000teu. Based on a current 19,000teu vessel design, these ships could be one hold longer, two rows wider and one hold tier higher.

“Due to stability factors and steel thickness requirements, it is easier to increase the beam than to increase the length,” said a statement by DNV GL.

However, Bergmann said the deployment of ultra-large wide-beam vessels would be constrained by port and seaways limitations, such as crane outreach and drafts. For example, the Suez Canal is limited by draft while bridges in ports such as Hong Kong, Hamburg and Osaka would limit vessel heights.

Mike King | Thursday, 27 November 2014

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