Containership charter market benefitting from current vessels shortage

Carriers expect freight rates to remain high for years and are still chartering ships for lengthy periods at elevated daily hire rates last seen 16 years ago, reports London’s Loadstar.

Alphaliner reports that Maersk has just fixed three of 4,600-TEU handy classic panamax vessels for periods of 24 to 27 months at US$35,000 per day, noting that the last time a panamax achieved this rate

The 2009-built Northern Priority, Northern Promotion and Northern Precision managed by Hamburg-based V Ships would have achieved $5,000 per day five years ago due to the economies of scale offered by mega ships.

The Danish carrier already has the 4,586-TEU Northern Priority on charter, having extended the hire until the end of this month at a rate of $10,450 per day, but has now been obliged to pay more than three times this rate to keep the ship in its fleet.

Major shipping lines take advantage over smaller operators

Alphaliner said Maersk had joined its 2M partner and rival MSC in a ‘fixing spree’, noting that Maersk is said to have just agreed the charter of two further panamaxes – the 4,253-TEU Xiamen and 4,252-TEU Nagoya Tower – from UK-based Zodiac Maritime for periods of 30 months at $32,000 per day.

The Xiamen was previously achieving just $9,100 a day on charter to another carrier, while Maersk previously had the Nagoya Tower on hire last July for two months at $8,950 per day.

Said a London broker: ‘The markets just gone bananas! We have carrier brokers offering to outbid any other offer to get their hands on a ship and prepared to fix for three years or more at these rates.

‘Owners prefer to fix with the top lines like Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM etc and they will get the nod ahead of the smaller guys, but they are not prepared to give them much preferential treatment on the rates and terms,’ he said.

Alphaliner said that ‘the sky’s the limit for containership charter rates’.