Photo: X-Press Feeders

The huge containership orderbook is significantly weighted towards larger vessels, with little investment in recent years in replacement tonnage for the ageing smaller sizes.

Indeed, according to the latest MSI Horizon Monthly Containerships Report, the feeder ship orderbook for vessels up to 3,900 teu represents just 14.9% of the sector fleet, compared to the 43.6% orderbook for ships of more than 7,600 teu.

Moreover, almost a third of the current fleet of feeders are over 15 years old, while a quarter are in excess of 20 years.

Under the International Maritime Organization’s Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) regulations, the ageing feeder vessel fleet will be obliged to slow down to comply, requiring more tonnage to be deployed on services.

This will further aggravate the already tight supply in the smaller sectors, which has seen some sizes ‘sold out’ in the containership charter market recently, and demolition sales stymied.

Furthermore, the feeder operator ocean carrier customers are demanding these service providers upgrade their ships as an extension of their own ‘green’ sustainable offering to their large shipper clients.

However, feeder shipowners looking to replace their older vessels are finding Asian shipyards are maxed-out, a backlog of orders stretching deliveries into late 2025 and beyond.

Nevertheless, Singapore-based X-Press Feeders Group has announced a further step in upgrading its fleet with an order for six new 1,250 teu dual-fuelled ships, capable of operating on methanol and conventional bunker fuel, which it said would most likely be deployed across its European network.

The vessels, to be constructed at the China state-owned CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding in Guangzhou, will bring the number of dual-fuelled ships ordered by X-Press to 14, with the first of the latest batch of six due to be received in the second half of 2025 through to Q3 26.

X-Press said it had set a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, and was aiming to be “the greener feeder carrier of choice”.

It claimed that compared with vessels that run on conventional fuels, the new vessels would produce around 75% fewer emissions when operating on green methanol.

“The group is moving closer to its targets with the additional fleet of dual-fuel newbuilds, while employing other strategies such as carbon capture and exploration of future fuel,” said X-Press.

CEO Shmuel Yoskovitz said to achieve its net-zero emissions goal, “we must take concrete steps today”, adding: “This order of six dual-fuel methanol vessels is proof of our commitment to not only talk about carbon neutrality goals, but invest and take risks to achieve them. ”

According to Alphaliner data, X-Press Feeders is the world’s largest independent feeder operator, with a fleet of 86 vessels, of which 37 are owned, for a capacity of 136,438 teu, and an orderbook of 26 ships, for a capacity of 90,162 teu.

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