In response to the significant gap between supply and demand in the shipping industry, ocean carriers are resorting to a measure known as “super slow steaming.” The average sailing speed of container ships has decreased by 3.4% compared to April 2019, limiting the supply that the fleet can deliver. Despite this, the global container fleet has grown by 16.9% in the past four years, reaching 26.2 million TEUs.
However, projections indicate that capacity will surpass demand in the next few years. Analysts expect a 2% growth in global demand this year, while supply is predicted to increase by 4%. By 2024, capacity is anticipated to rise by 7% compared to a 3% growth in demand. The current order book for container ships stands at approximately 7.3 million TEUs, accounting for 28% of the global fleet.
To address the situation, carriers are implementing super slow steaming, a strategy previously used during the global financial crisis. This involves adding extra ships to existing services and extending round voyages without significantly increasing the effective capacity of the service. The 2M Alliance, composed of Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co., will add two mega-ships to the AE6/Lion service from Asia to North Europe. This adjustment aims to reduce speed, lower costs and emissions, and accommodate additional mega-tonnage.