In response to the drop in demand and overcapacity in Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s fleet, they have recycled four ships and put 10 vessels into ‘cold lay-up’, temporarily taking them out of service until demand picks up.

The company says that shipping volumes are lower due to factory closures and bottlenecks in the supply chain. Because they are carrying fewer products, they have some vessels that are not required right now, but they want to be able to bring them back into operation when the time is right.

“We’re putting these vessels into cold lay-up – effectively mothballing them in a secure environment until they are needed again.”

From their fleet of 123 vessels, seven ships have been placed in cold lay up in the fjords of Norway and three in Malaysia and they are evaluating whether an additional 10 vessels could be laid-up.

“It takes three to four weeks to restart a vessel that is in cold laid-up. The ship needs to be prepared for people to live onboard it again, so you have to begin by procuring stores for the crew such as food and fresh water. The freezers, cold rooms and lighting have to be started up.

Then we start up the equipment on the bridge, in the engine room and cargo hold. The exact steps vary depending on the vessel type and how long it has been out of action.” says Captain Filip Svensson, marine operations management, Wallenius Wilhelmsen.

The last time Wallenius Wilhelmsen cold laid-up vessels was 12 years ago, during the financial crisis. Svensson says “The maritime industry is cyclical; business comes and goes. But this is the first time that all segments of our industry have been hit at the same time.”

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