Panamax boxship charters find new rate benchmarks

Maersk Duncan, ex-JPO Pisces

The 4,130-teu Maersk Duncan (ex-JPO Pisces)

By Patrick Hagen – LLOYD’S LIST

PANAMAX sizes in the charter market have again set new benchmarks achieving rates above $20,000 per day for 12 months.

Maersk Line has extended the charter for two 4,130 teu baby panamaxes for 12 months at a daily rate of $20,750. The initial five-year charter for the JPO Libra and the JPO Pisces , both built 2005, will end in August.

According to market rumours, Hamburg Süd took at least one 4,000 teu ship from Claus-Peter Offen for a three-year period at a rate above $20,000 per day.

There was also information about the relet of an 8,000 teu vessel for 12 months at a rate of just below $26,000 per day.

Another relet by CCNI shows how strongly charter markets have developed for larger vessels in recent months. CCNI took the 5,500 teu Ikaria (CCNI Antartico ) in February for 12 months at a rate of $10,750 per day.

Now, CCNI has relet the vessels to MSC for the remainder of the period at $24,000 per day.

Before that, several attempted deals with other charterers had failed, according to brokers. CMA CGM and APL were among the companies reported to have been also interested in the ship.

Rates were also increasing in the smaller sizes, with the 2,500 teu to 3,500 making the largest gains while 1,100 teu and 1,700 teu vessels were only slowly improving.

However, in the 2,500 teu segment a split-market has evolved. While intra-Asian trades are booming and demand for vessels is high, there is still a lot of idle tonnage to be found in this size in Europe.

Recent fixtures in Asia for 2,500 teu ships have been as high as $6,900 per day for longer periods. This has led to a situation where owners are accepting rates that are a $1,000 per day lower for trips from Europe to Asia.

Rates on the Atlantic are also significantly lower than those in Asia.

The mood in the market is clearly cheerful with optimism returning to owners and struggling KG companies.

“Owners have realised that it is often worthwhile to wait,” said one Hamburg broker. “Their negotiating position has clearly improved.”

However, there are also voices stressing that the current situation is still fragile. “Overall it has been another positive week in the charter market but we still have to see if we can continue the progress and overcome the hurdles of the traditional summer lull and any sustained adverse reaction to the situation in Greece,” broker Braemar Seascope wrote in its weekly report.

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