testata inforMARE
6 ottobre 2022 - Anno XXVI
Quotidiano indipendente di economia e politica dei trasporti
03:51 GMT+2
FORUM dello Shipping
e della Logistica

 The fleet

The world fleet of reeferships again declined in numbers this year. By December 31st 2000, the fleet comprised 1,249 ships over 40,000 cu ft with a total capacity of about 353 million cu ft, i.e. a decrease of roughly 1.1 % in the number of vessels and of 0.9 % in the capacity, compared to Dec. 31st 1999.

Deliveries of new ships were down sharply, with only 13 deliveries with a capacity of 6.3 million cu ft in 2000, as against 20 vessels and a capacity of 9.5 million cu ft in 1999. These figures are the lowest recorded since 1995.

The large-size vessels again maintained their predominance, with about 85 % of delivered ships being over 300,000 cu ft (90 % in 1999).

Only 4 new units are due for delivery in 2001, for a total capacity around 1.9 million cu ft. The large sizes are still dominant with some 75 % of these vessels having a capacity above 300,000 cu ft.


Despite the weakness in the market, it is surprising to see the small number of vessels being withdrawn, scrapped, lost, or converted. Only 27 ships were scrapped (versus 52 in 1999), comprising 9.5 million cu ft (16.8 million cu ft in 1999).

The above figures refer to refrigeration capacity in ship holds. They should be weighted to take into account the increase in the capacity of refrigerated containerships of delivered units, both on reefers (about 2,490 teu / 2.49 million cu ft) and containerships (about 66,000 teu / 66 million cu ft). In fact the year 2000 has seen an increase in the order of 65.5 million cu ft in the total supply of refrigerated capacity.

Given current orders, it is expected that the market in 2001 will reach a containerised refrigerated capacity of 93,000 teu / 93 million cu ft.



Up until late in the year, in view of the above, one might have expected that no new orders for refrigerated vessels would be contracted in 2000. But in December, an order was placed by the German company MPC Capital for two ships (with options for two additional) with the Portuguese shipyard Viana do Castelo, for a reported unit price of about US$ 30 million. These vessels with delivery expected in 2003, will be chartered to Agrexo (a major exporter of citrus fruit from Israel) for a 12 years' period. They will have the particularity of combining a refrigerated capacity of 460,000 cu ft with a container capacity of 880 teu in hold and on deck, together with a 160 slots for refrigerated containers. The service speed is 21 knots. These ships are built to be multi-purpose (containers, cars, various products, etc.).

The number of deliveries (firm orders) expected in 2001 is only four ships for 1.9 million cu ft. These ships were ordered in 1997 and 1998. Given the current market conditions, it is reasonable to expect that newbuilding activity in 2001 will be severely reduced, if not nil.

abt 580,754 cbft, 11,382 dwt, blt 2000 by Kitanihon Zosen - Disponent Owner: Seatrade Reefer Chartering NV


The second-hand reefership market

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No more than 70 sales were registered in total in 2000. However one should not be misled by this figure, as in fact the second-hand sales of reefer ships were in fact extremely limited, with only a handful of "representative ships" actually changing hands during the year. The main operators remained very much on the sidelines insofar as second-hand sales were concerned. Consequently, apart from nearly a dozen sales to owners such as De Nadai, Laskaridis or Del Monte, listed below, the "big" players preferred to suffer in silence, in a market even more depressed than last year's. The sale of assets between companies was really the only bright spark during the course of the year.

One should nonetheless point out the solid resistance of nearly all owners and their bankers in this morose market. There were virtually no reports of forced sales, which certainly would not have been the best solution given the depressed state of affairs. However this situation should not ignore the intense financial activity behind the scenes, and an attempt between owners and bankers and even between just owners, to try to rationalise and restructure this activity.

Some representative sales :

  • The 'Al Zohal 1', 'Teno' and 'Talca', sister-ships of 479,000 cu ft, 66 teu, 19 knots, built in 1986, 1988 and 1987, sold to clients of Denadai by Unicoolship at $8m, $9m and $8,5m in February.
  • The 'Roztocze', 'Kurpie', 'Kociewie', 'Powisle' and 'Podlasie', sister-ships of 290,000 cu ft, 17 knots, built in 1991, 1988, 1986, 1987 and 1988, sold to Greek interests by Transocean for $8m each in December
  • The 'Hachinohe Bay' and ' Kamishima', sister-ships of 302,050 cu ft, 16 knots, both built in 1991, sold to clients of Lavinia Corp. by Yukono Marine and Unox Marine for $10m each.
  • The 'Atlantic Mermaid' and 'Pacific Mermaid', sister-ships of 540,000 cu ft, 80 teu, 19 knots, both built in 1992, sold to clients of Elmira by Southern Route Maritime for $16m each.
Conclusion and prospects


It appears premature to make predictions about the 2000-2001 season. However a number of factors already presage yet again poor returns for owners.

  • As mentioned above, a total refrigerated capacity of 96 million cu ft should come onto the market in 2001.
  • At the same time, potential scrappings in 2001 (ships of 23 years or more in 2000) are only 54.2 million cu ft or some 275 vessels. It is hard to imagine that such a number will be sold for scrap in just one year. Over the past 20 years, the highest number of reeferships to be scrapped in a single year was 85, for 23.5 million cu ft, in 1984.
  • Even though a considerable reduction in the number of car carriers is expected in 2001, 13 new ships should be delivered this year.
  • Influenced by the spot rates of the 1999-2000 season, contracts for the season 2000-2001 were renewed at identical levels to the preceding year, at a late stage and for reduced quantities.
  • After various unsuccessful proposals, a European banana import system in compliance to WTO rules is still being worked on. Until a final text can be agreed it is not possible to elaborate on any comprehensive long term contracts.
  • Banana prices are at low levels on all markets.
  • There was a decline in the number of ships sold for scrap in 2000, in marked contrast to 1999, even though this was contradictory to market conditions. Owners of old vessels which do not comply either to the norms or most of the charterers' requirements, still show no inclination to make a collective step towards scrapping, even though in short-term costs, current conditions do not justify them being reactivated for some potential seasonal employment.

As was the case last year, we unfortunately do not foresee any significant recovery in the market this year. The positive economic signs of developed countries, and a reduction in the volume of the refeership fleet, should have led to a substantial improvement in freight rates, but the contrary has occurred. Paradoxically, an increase in traffic with at the same time a decline in the refrigerated fleet, has led to a reduction in freight levels. After the decisive turning point in 1999, it seems that the transportation of perishable goods by the traditional reeferships is on the decline, dominated by the process of containerisation. It seems probable that we shall witness a progressive switch from the transport of refrigerated goods to "all containers", initially for seasonal products (Chile, South Africa, Argentina, Brasil, New Zealand), and at a later stage for bananas and fish.

The big operators of reeferships are aware of this evolution, and certain - in collaboration with owners of containerships ' employ their reefers in parallel on some container routes.

The development of regular door-to-door parcel service, minimising return voyages in ballast for all sorts of goods, is another solution which will help improve the efficiency of existing refeerships, especially if they have a good container capacity. This system should be the spearhead of the new entity Lauritzen Cool between South Africa and Europe. But the main basis of such a scheme is it not the perfect set-up for' containerisation?

Shipping and Shipbuilding Markets in 2000


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FORUM dello Shipping
e della Logistica
Relazione del presidente Daniele Rossi
Napoli, 30 settembre 2020
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