Containerships Currently Moving at All-Time Low Speeds

Containerships Currently Moving at All-Time Low Speeds

A new report from Clarksons Research and BIMCO has revealed that the global container fleet moved at all-time slow speeds during Q1 of 2023.

The reduction in speed follows a period during the COVID-19 pandemic when liner operators increased the average sailing speed by up to 4%. This increase has been largely attributed to strong demand for shipping and widespread port congestion.

Data provided by BIMCO indicates that today’s picture is drastically different, with the average sailing speed during Q1 2023 dropping to 13.8 knots. Furthermore, BIMCO suggests that average sailing speed could drop by a further 10% before 2025.

Why is this happening? According to Jan Tiedemann, an analyst with Alphaliner, the drop in sailing speed can be attributed to shipping lines attempting to absorb capacity that would otherwise be a surplus. A slight decrease in bunker prices in recent weeks may counteract this decline, however.

Speaking to industry news magazine Splash247, Lars Jensen - the founder of Vespucci Maritime - said:

“The slowing down of services is a well-used tool in the carriers’ toolbox. For the past couple of decades we have seen this used whenever there is structural overcapacity or high fuel prices - or both. Presently, the industry is facing both issues”.

Jensen also pointed out that some new factors are influencing sailing speeds - environmental regulations and carbon taxes.

Furthermore, a swathe of new vessels are being added to services. Maersk and MSC, for example, have announced that they will soon be adding nine extra vessels to their Asia-Europe routes.

Jan Tiedemann of Alphaliner believes that the introduction of new fuels such as LNG, methanol and ammonia will further exacerbate the trend towards slower sailing speeds, as they are much more expensive than current ones.

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Anthony York
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