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Maritime News

Box Shipping Still Feeding The 5000

5,000 Strong

Today the containership fleet stands at 5,192 units, a pretty impressive number considering that it stood just 2,617-strong at the start of the millennium. It passed the 4,000 vessel mark during 2007 and the 5,000 vessel barrier soon after in 2011. However the containership fleet has been stuck around 5,000 units for some time now. 2017 saw just 8 vessels added in net terms to the fleet. In fact, compared to the boxship fleet at the start of 2012, the fleet today is only 109 vessels larger, even though an overall total of 5.6 million TEU (nominal) capacity has been added to the fleet over the same period. During that time, vessel numbers have grown by 2% whilst capacity has grown by 37%.

A Major Feat

Of course, even if the numbers haven’t grown much, the 5,000 ships still need to be fed with plenty of cargo. A global trade volume that totalled 67m TEU back in 2000 hit 192m TEU in 2017 (a CAGR of 6.4% in that period) and has grown quickly enough to allow the fleet to get that large. Meanwhile, in recent years, ‘The 5,000’ has pulled off the trick of moving more and more cargo each year. The 5,083 ships at start 2012 moved 155m TEU that year but then, in 2017, a figure of 5,159 ships moved a global volume 24% larger. That’s an impressive feat. Of course, it couldn’t happen without an increase in capacity; that’s crucial. Capacity, if not the actual number of ships, has grown rapidly, and the constancy of ‘The 5,000’ is of course in part illusory. Within the fleet there have been major dynamics with bigger new ships (as large as c.21,000 TEU) joining the fleet and older, smaller ships exiting.

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