Secondhand container ship deals jump over 100% in H1 2021

During the first half of 2021, a total of 277 container ships have changed hands, a 103.7% jump from 136 ships bought and sold in the same period of 2020 (source: Vessels Value). 

This jump testifies to a red-hot container market that has fuelled demand for tonnage, not only in the charter market, but also for secondhand ships. A total of 922,203 TEU found new owners, with an average ship size of 3,403 TEU. The average size of ships being traded has fallen compared to last year; while the number of deals has more than doubled, the capacity has only increased by 40.1%.

By far the most traded ships so far this year have been feeder ships (100 – 2,999 TEU), of which 167 have been sold, a 165.1% increase from the first half of 2020. Sales of feeder ships have totalled 289,636 TEU. This is second only to the 358,874 TEU of post Panamax (5,000- 9,999 TEU) ships, of which 54 have been bought and sold in the first half of 2021.

Note: Feeder: 100 – 2,999 TEU / Panamax: 3,000 – 4,999 TEU / Post Panamax: 5,000 – 9,999 TEU / Neo Panamax: 10,000 – 14,999 TEU / ULCS: 15,000+ TEU

The largest ships have been the least popular on the secondhand market with only five ships above 10,000 TEU changing hands.

Costlier around the board to get hold of space

The prices paid by shippers have skyrocketed, and similarly, so have the prices facing charterers who are paying record amounts for chartering ships in. The high demand for tonnage is therefore reflected in the secondhand prices. Of the feeder ships which have disclosed prices, the average paid in June was USD 17.6 million. This is more than four times the USD 4 million average for deals going through in June 2020 (source: Vessels Value).

“Carriers’ options for getting hold of extra tonnage in the short term to meet current demand is limited to the charter and second-hand market. The former is getting progressively more expensive and harder to come by as available tonnage is quickly snapped up, leaving the option of buying in existing tonnage. Currently, both options come at a premium,” says Peter Sand, BIMCO’s Chief Shipping Analyst.

“From the seller’s perspective, the current prices offer a great incentive to sell, highlighting the role of asset play in some shipowners’ models, as profits on ships being sold these days can potentially cover the losses made by the ship over its lifetime.”



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