Container liners are chartering multipurpose vessels to close supply gaps as demand peaks and rates soar. ‘The dearth of cellular container tonnage in the charter market is forcing some carriers to tap into the multipurpose market to cover their needs,’ reports shipping analyst Alphaliner.
The firm added that the liners are looking for fast vessels with high container intake. South Korean carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) has fixed the 30,000-DWT Zeaborn-owned vessel MPV Thalia, which can carry 1888 twenty-foot containers (TEU), with a similar vessel set to join the company’s network soon. As of next month, Zeaborn will also charter the MPV Clio to Indonesian shipping line Samudera, which operates several intra-Asia container routes. Other multipurpose carriers are said to be offering their ships to the container liners as well.
The container liners are experiencing a strong rebound in demand, which has created a shortage of supply and caused freight rates to soar. French carrier CMA CGM saw its third-quarter net profit rise almost thirteen-fold from USD 45 million last year to USD 567 million now on the back of strong demand and lower costs.
Following complaints from shippers about the lack of available containers, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in the United States has launched a probe into the liner activity.
The Commission will investigate if the practices of the major container liners related to detention and demurrage, container return, and container availability for export cargoes violate U.S. legislation.
‘The Commission has a compelling responsibility to investigate the situations that currently exist in our major port gateways. The Commission is concerned that certain practices of ocean carriers and their marine terminals may be amplifying the negative effect of bottlenecks at these ports and may be contrary to provisions in the Shipping Act of 1984,’ the FMC states in a release.
The authority added that the potentially unreasonable practices of carriers in the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey present a serious risk to the ability of the United States to handle trade growth.
This article first appeared on Project Cargo Journal, which is another publication of SWZ|Maritime’s publishing partner Promedia.