World Container Ship Fleet Hits 16 Million TEUs

The world container ship fleet has crossed 16 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) after the addition of an estimated 802,000TEUs worth of new container ships in the first half of this year. These new container ships represent 5 percent of the global fleet at the beginning of the year. Although the capacity is growing, the rate of growth is slowing, possibly due to increased scrapping of older tonnage.

Analyzing data over the last few years, it took 12 months for the fleet to increase from 15 million TEUs to 16 million TEUs. Compared to the years prior where it took 10 months to grow from 14 million TEUs to 15 million TEUs and only nine months to grow from 13 million TEUs to 14 million TEUs, it seems that growth is becoming stagnant.

The slowing growth rate can be attributed to the increased scrapping of older tonnage, with 163,000 TEUs worth of capacity sent to the breakers yards so far this year. The scrapings in the first half of the year lowered the net additions by 162,000 TEUs to 640,000 TEUs, or about 4.2 percent of the world fleet. 2012 is expected to close out with an additional 670,000 TEUs.

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