Anatomy of a Glut

This chart shows a relatively stable number of ship deliveries every year this decade. Though many of these newbuildings will be canceled or delayed, the number of ships on order for delivery in 2010 is an order of magnitude beyond anything the industry has seen in more than a decade.

Also notice the "removals" sections in the bar graph. Some dry-bulk industry watchers say that order cancellations and delivery delays will mitigate the coming glut of new ships. As this chart shows: not bloody likely.

Among the dry-bulkers with vessels scheduled for delivery next year are Navios Maritime ( NM - Get Report), Excel Maritime ( EXM), Eagle Bulk ( EGLE - Get Report), and Diana Shipping ( DSX - Get Report).

Anatomy of a Glut

Here's a breakdown of the orderbook by ship type, from the enormous capesize to the relatively small handymax. Again, next year has by far and away the most intense delivery schedule seen in years, though 2011 is no slouch, either.

Notice, too, that a capesize binge has beset the industry. This isn't surprising. Capesize carriers are mostly used to haul iron ore. By far their most frequent and most lucrative routes take that ore to China. In 2009, dry-bulk shippers will have moved 605 million deadweight tons of iron ore to China alone -- 20% of the total amount of material hauled by the entire dry-bulk industry in 2009.

Maybe that old saw needs revision. No longer should anything be like carrying coals to Newcastle. It should be like carrying iron ore to China.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.