Drop Anchor?

From Business Week (January 26, 2012):

“No Slower Steaming as Container Lines Run Like Clippers …”

“Shipping lines are running out of options to stop losses as sailing speeds reach their lower limit. The global container fleet is now cruising near record-low speeds after slowing 11 percent from August when the freight market collapsed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Lloyd’s Register. Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. estimates some of the smallest shipping lines will run out of cash in the second half of this year as the industry fails to adjust to overcapacity that’s allowing customers to push down rates.

“‘Container lines have already exhausted most of the tricks for absorbing capacity,’ said Bjorn Vang Jensen, a Singapore-based vice president at Electrolux Ab who oversees about 15,000 shipments a year. ‘Some of these container ships are now so slow that they’re close to the speeds of the old sailing ships. The clippers might actually have been faster.’…

“With speeds unlikely to get any slower, the industry is growing more vulnerable to rising fuel costs, and all container lines are losing money, according to BIMCO, the biggest international shipping association.” –

On June 3, 2011, in our Vol. XXVII, Art. 29 commentary (“Slow Stealing”), we wrote:

“If you’re not convinced by this time that ‘slow steaming’ is just another hoax – just another sure-fire way to bleed the taxpayer/consumer – read what Lloyd’s Register says about the stratagem. In dismissing the ‘slow steaming’ concept as costly and harmful to the environment, the marine classification society told Marine Biz TV:

“‘Containerships are built to operate at higher outputs and will need to be more closely monitored when slow steaming to avoid loss of engine performance, fuel quality, and lubrication oil consumption when moving below 20 knots. The large containership is designed for 25 knots at 70,000kw main engine power and will require just 50 percent power when reduced to 20 knots. As voyage times increase, fuel savings will be less, and at slower speeds, Nox emissions also increase, resulting in waste engine capacity, higher capital costs from unused power potential, losses in heat recovery systems, turbocharger and propeller efficiency as well as increased fouling of hulls and propellers. Lloyd’s Register also warned of increased compensatory fuel consumption and possible vibration levels risking safe, reliable ship operations.’ –

“Carriers should quit lying to us. There are no ‘benefits’ or profits to pass on. The only things being passed on are the extra costs incurred by the arrogant ‘slow steaming’ stratagem. The real reason for ‘slow steaming’ is to avoid scrapping the overcapacity which resulted from mismanagement and the ‘corporate fanning of feathers’. Let’s call a spade a spade. ‘Slow stealing’ is what it is.”