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26 FOCUS PSI Journal 8-9/2016 www.psi-network.de benefited disproportionately from the globalisation boom of the last decade. Until recently, however, the major lenders Commerzbank and the German Landesbanken misjudged the market development. Despite the massive imbalance between supply and demand, the fleet continues to grow: on the one hand, ships ordered one or two years ago are now being delivered, and on the other hand new ships were still being ordered until at least 2015. Until the end of last year, new vessels had been excluded from the future internationally applicable environmental regulations. At the beginning of this year, there were 4,233 container ships with an average age of 9.5 years in operation worldwide, 331 of which with capacities between 10,000 and 20,000 TEU. Of the 379 container ships under construction, more than 137 ships belong to the category 10,000 to 20,000 TEU. The fleet of container ships is expected to increase by 7 to 8 per cent, and according to the industry publication “Alphaliner” demand is only growing by about one per cent. According to HWWI (Hanseatic WeltWirtschaftsInstitut), the tonnage growth will be above 7 per cent. The obvious conclusion: Insufficient cargo for too many ships. UNPROFITABLE SUPER FREIGHTERS As a consequence, the unused cargo capacity has reached a new record worldwide. Container ships with a total deadweight of 1.58 million 20-foot standard containers (TEU) were moored unused in ports in early March, reports “Alphaliner”. That is even more than at the previous low point of the crisis in 2009, when ships with together 1.52 million TEU were “laid up”, i.e. decommissioned. Among them are a particularly large number of very large cargo ships, because overall the giant ships have proven a failure. The anticipated cost advantages cannot be realised as hoped because super freighters create major logistical and technical problems which can be costly: They cannot be used everywhere, and travel almost exclusively on the route between Asia and Europe. They consume a lot of fuel and cause high demurrage in the ports since loading and unloading are complicated and take a long time. Many port facilities are not designed for such vessels, neither logistically nor in terms of waterway depth. The discussion about deepening the river Elbe belongs to this set of problems. And only the other day there was another accident in the Panama Canal: A giant freighter collided with the lock wall. Since the five-billion dollar and nineyear expansion of the waterway, which was celebrated just a few weeks ago, that was the third accident. Are the new locks already too narrow? That would not be unlikely in view of the race between the shipping companies to secure the largest container ships in recent years. The economic risks of mega-freighters that can load up more than 20,000 TEU are now enor-

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