Unprecedented congestion and the resulting delays to vessels have the effect of removing vast amounts of capacity from the world container shipping fleet, internationally respected maritime analyst company Sea-Intelligence has indicated.
Using Sea-Intelligence’s proprietary data, the company found that huge amounts of capacity are being soaked up by delays imposed on vessels. Approximately 25% of capacity on the trans-Pacific route has been lost to these delays, “far outpacing the 17% soaked up by the 2015 US West Coast labour dispute”. Meanwhile, the key Asia-Europe route lost 11% of capacity deployed in the first four months of 2021 because of delays.
And this at a time when “more capacity is deployed than ever before”.
At the height of the congestion, about 12% of global container ship capacity was lost to delays to vessels. That’s equivalent to about 2.8 million TEU of shipping container capacity. To put that in perspective, the entire global-fleet of ultra-large container ships of 18,000 TEU and above has a combined capacity of about 2.7 million TEU.
“Hence, in very real terms, the congestion problems in 2021 is of such a magnitude, that the effect is the same as if the entire industry had decided to remove all Ultra-Large Container Vessels from the fleet, without adding any new vessels,” the company said in a statement.
Shipping Australia CEO Melwyn Noronha added: “lots of commentators in Australia have been discussing a scarcity of shipping containers. Now we know why there are issues. The capacity has been lost to delays imposed on ships. That’s a really high price that the world is paying because of port congestion. It’s time for container ports to up their game.”