US maritime broker idle ship list jumps

05 January 2009 22:08  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--This could be the year of idle ships, judging from the number of vessels laid up due to plunging demand for petrochemicals, commodities and general cargoes, shipping sources said on Monday.

A sure sign of listlessness can be found in the increasing number of handy-size ships (those in the 6-35 kilotonne range) containing the words "direction: any" beside their names on one US maritime broker's position list. “Direction: any” means the ships can go anywhere as they are idle.

The global number of any-direction vessels now stands at 267 ships, up almost 6% from 248 in mid-December, according to Tide Maritime.

Most of the Western hemisphere's chemical-bearing ships are anchored in port rather than out on the high seas because of the economic meltdown.

Container vessels are also dropping anchor by the dozens, with more than 150 box ships laid up around the world and "more to come," according to Lloyd's List.

The large number of idle ships is due to falling cargo demand, plunging freight rates and a flood of tonnage on major trade lanes, according to media reports.

Charter ship owners account for 105 of the idle vessels, according to The Economic Times, with an estimated 3.5% of the world's container fleet expected to be laid up in early 2009.

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By: Lane Kelley
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