Container fleet capacity up 30% in 2025 compared to the pre-pandemic levels

According to Clarksons, the container ship orderbook began to grow rapidly in the second half of 2020, and by mid-2022 it was close to 900 vessels with a capacity of more than 7 million TEUs. Barclays analysts attribute this rapid fleet expansion to the fact that most of the lines have decided to reinvest most of their huge profits over the past two years in new vessels.

The world’s largest container operator, Mediterranean Shipping (MSC), continues to order new vessels amid a cooling market and an already huge newbuild orderbook, Trade Winds reports, citing shipbuilding sources. According to Alphaliner, the group’s newbuild orderbook to date includes 114 vessels with a total capacity of 1.5 million TEUs - more than a third of the liner operator’s on-the-water fleet. Plus, the group bought up a huge fleet of vessels in the secondary market in 2020-2021.

The newbuild orderbook of the Israeli carrier ZIM consists of 47 container ships with a total capacity of 416,000 TEUs, which is more than 80% of its on-the-water fleet.

The total capacity of the global container fleet in 2025 will exceed the level that preceded the start of the pandemic by 30%, according to Shipping Watch, citing calculations by the British investment bank Barclays. This increase in supply will no doubt increase the pressure on freight rates.