Recession leads to graveyard of ghost ships
Disused cargo ships accumulate in the waters of Asia as global trade slows down.
Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 02:10 PM
Photo: Richard Jones/Sinopix
They should be loaded down with cargo headed from Asia to the United States and Europe, but instead, 500-odd gigantic ships stand like a ghost fleet in the waters off the southern edge of Malaysia, empty and silent.
Since people aren’t opening their wallets to buy merchandise from stores, stores aren’t ordering new inventory – and that leaves ships like these with nothing to do but sit and wait for demand to increase once again.
According to the Daily Mail, the world’s governments would prefer that the public not know about this graveyard of ships, a stark reminder of the global recession. It seems that this is why they’ve chosen to hide them in this remote stretch of water.
“We don't understand why they are here,” local fisherman Ah Wat told the paper. “There are so many ships but no one seems to be on board. When we sail past them in our fishing boats we never see anyone."
"They are like real ghost ships and some people are scared of them. They believe they may bring a curse with them and that there may be bad spirits on the ships."
Economic uncertainties have been a massive blow to the world’s chartering businesses. Tankers that once cost $50,000 a day can now be chartered for $5,500 because the companies that still need goods transported across the globe have demanded huge reductions in price.
Something like 12 percent of the world’s container ships are sitting idle, even ahead of the holiday season when they’re normally running at top speed.
Even as cargo ships rot in hidden bays, shiny new ones ordered before the recession hit are still coming off the assembly lines. But soon, shipyards will have nothing left to build, because orders have practically come to a complete halt.
Experts expect the situation to worsen before it gets better, with many shipping businesses finding themselves in difficult situations. That may lead to even more eerie ship graveyards popping up around the world, watching and waiting for the economic waters to welcome them back into service.