Throughout 2021, a crisis gradually grew in the container transportation market, which turned into a real collapse by the middle of the year. The root cause of the crisis was the pandemic and the Ever Given container ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal. But besides this, there are deeper reasons for the emergence of the container crisis. Experts say it is caused by a strong imbalance in the movement of goods between Asia, North America and the EU. Empty containers simply had nothing to send back. As a result, the rates have increased many times, and the whole world is already beginning to feel the shortage of container fleet. As a result, prices for most consumer goods are forecast to rise further, and the container shipping market is clearly in a global congestion.
The lack of space on board container ships is pushing exporters to look for new ways to transport containers. Many shippers choose to charter bulk carriers of various sizes ranging from Capesize to Supramax. The standard purpose of these ships is the transportation of ore, coal or other raw materials. One of the first shipping companies whose dry cargo ships will be involved in container transportation should be the Greek company Star Bulk.
The reaction of the insurance companies
Due to the fact that such vessels are not designed to navigate the route with stowed cargo on deck, the UK P&I Club warns that it is necessary not only to carefully observe the requirements for securing containers, but also to pre-strengthen the deck and hatches holds on which the cargo will be located.
In addition, the insurers recommend preliminary analysis and calculation of the ship’s stability and provide additional fire extinguishing equipment on the ship.
Further development of the situation in the global container market
Today, Star Bulk is not the only company ready to transport containers. In recent weeks, deals have been concluded on the transportation of container cargo by ships of various types. It is also known that a number of owners of the bulk fleet are currently working with their classification societies and insurance companies to obtain permits for the carriage of containerized cargo on their ships. Unfortunately, experts report that even with the involvement of other vessels in transportation, the tension in the market will only begin to subside by mid-2022.