27 September 2022

Box ship owners invest more to keep their vessels trading

Containership owners are placing more emphasis on the repair and maintenance of their hatch covers and container lashing equipment as the continuous full loading of their boxships due to the strong market conditions, impacts the condition of their ships.

According to Peter Peltenburg, CEO of the Dutch-based Cargo Care Solutions, the weight of the extra containers and cargo is placing massive amounts of stress on the hatch covers and lashing gear.

“With the current strong market conditions, shipowners cannot afford to incur any downtime of their vessels due to a lack of maintenance. And it is the same when it comes to vessel damage impacting on the vessel’s cargo carrying capacity. If you lose any capacity then vessel revenues are immediately hit,” he said.

“These vessels are currently running at maximum capacity and that will take its toll. A vessel that has not been trading at full capacity going into drydock every five years, will have these bits of equipment repaired as a matter of anticipated wear and tear. Indeed, many owners are planning ahead to check future voyage routes so they can institute essential planned maintenance schedules on their vessels to ensure they do not find themselves taken out of service.

“Vessel schedules and port and terminal activities limit our ability to undertake emergency in-port welding and repairs, increasing the importance of repairs and maintenance being carried out during a vessel’s scheduled drydocking period,” he added.

This heightened level of focus by owners on the maintenance of their vessels is not increasing pressure on suppliers, said Mr Peltenburg, because companies such as his are well positioned to meet the demands of the market. “But we are receiving more requests for servicing of the hatch covers and lashing gear, whereas before, shipowners would focus less on the condition of the hatch covers or lashing gear or undertake essential repairs themselves.

“We have the systems and the procedures to ensure that all requests and jobs are repaired up to standard. Owners are investing more money in maintenance, but it is a booming market and owners don’t want to incur any problems in the years ahead,” he added.

According to Mr Peltenburg, one owner confirmed it had recovered the cost of an equipment retrofit after only one voyage because of the strength of the market conditions, and as a result they are planning up to 50 retrofits next year to boost vessel container loads. “We are seeing an increase in activities in the capacity upgrade of existing containerships and have been successfully involved in a number of upgrading projects with shipowners. Utilising our knowledge and knowhow at the design and engineering level places Cargo Care a notch above just being a supplier and repairer of the hatch covers and lashing equipment,” he stressed.