August 19 - Drewry Maritime Research has said that the number of container ships transporting goods around the world fell in the first half of 2014 but the total capacity of the global fleet continues to increase.

The consultancy company predicts a reduction in the number of container ships on an annual basis this year for the first time in at least 20 years.

The container shipping industry has been struggling with over capacity during the economic downturn.

Drewry added that despite fewer ships, nominal capacity of the global fleet continues to increase by about 6 percent a year, with the growth in capacity coming solely from the increase in average ship size, not from having more ships.

At the beginning of August the total number of container ships amounted to 5,088 vessels with a capacity of 17.8 million teu says Drewry, adding that during the 12 months to the end of March 2014, 192 ships averaging about 2,600 teu were scrapped, with demolitions running at about 55 ships per quarter.

About 230 new ships of all sizes are scheduled to be delivered in 2014 with the number of new deliveries falling to about 180 in 2015.