Ships moored on loch during slump

Four redundant container ships have been moored in Loch Striven this week because of the fall in world trade.

The Danish shipping company Maersk has decided to put the ships into what is called “cold lay-up”. This means they will be moored together on the loch with a skeleton crew for at least six months, or until it is economically viable to move them on. The four ships have been waiting in the Firth of Clyde for a decision on their future. Maersk made its decision last week and over the past few days the ships have been towed into the loch and anchored. The four ships, the Bentonville, Baltimore, Sealand Performance and Beaumont, sailed from South Africa with food and consumer goods for markets in northern Europe. They should have made their way back along the same route, but with trade down, they have no cargo to carry. It is now more cost effective to pay lay-up fees to the local port authority, Clydeport, rather than move them on. During the economic boom, shipping companies – including Maersk – expanded their fleets and built massive container ships. This expansion, coupled with the sudden fall in world trade has hit shipping companies hard. Even the bustling ports in the Far East and major hub ports such as Los Angeles have been affected. There are now several hundred ships in lay-up in Singapore. Estimates suggest that world trade has fallen by about 10%.

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