Tradewinds – Demolition rates hit an all-time quarter high

(Written by Ian Lewis)

27 February 2013 - Boxships being sent to the breakers are larger, younger and more numerous than ever before.

More containerships were scrapped in the last quarter of 2012 than in any previous corresponding period, according to figures from Clarkson Research Services (CRS).

Some 58 boxships of a combined 114,118 teu were sold for demolition in the fourth quarter of last year, with a further 20 of 43,744 teu in January this year, according to CRS.

That is more than in any previous quarter, including during the record-breaking year of 2009.

The average size of boxships sent to the breakers also increased to 1,860 teu in 2012, which was up from an average size of 1,309 teu in the previous year.

The ships being broken are also younger, with an average demolition age of 23 in 2012. That is down from an average of 29 years in 2011, when older tonnage was cleared out.

For 2012 as a whole, 179 ships of 332,922 teu were demolished, which makes it the second-highest year ever for scrapping.

In 2009, 203 ships of 379,426 teu were demolished. This year will not fall far short, with expectations that 350,000 teu will be demolished — nearly half above 3,000 teu, says CRS.

Things are set to fall back to earth in 2014 when scrapping levels are expected to drop to 200,000 teu. However, larger ships will continue to constitute an increasing proportion of demolished tonnage.