During the next week there will be a major exodus of ships from the River Fal – some of which will be heading for scrapyards on the Indian sub continent.

They in turn will be replaced by other ships arriving for lay-up as the recession claims more victims from the worldwide slump in shipping.

Yesterday the bulk carrier Advent (ex-Adventurer II) was expected to leave the Fal and her sister vessel Challen (ex-Challenger II) will leave the Fal today. Both ships were major casualties after the collapse of Britannia Bulk Plc which went into administration under the Insolvency Act 1986 of England and Wales.

Nordea Bank Denmark and Lloyd’s TSB Group asked the dry bulk operator Britannia Bulk for immediate repayment of £96 m outstanding on a loan due to a default on the terms. The company had secured the loan against the assets of five ships.

The trio of reefers laid up in the Fal since January, the Pietari Breeze, Pietari Glory and Pietari Cliff will leave the Fal soon destined for the Indian ship breaking yard of Alang in the State of Gujarat. The ships were bought for scrap at an undisclosed price.

The car carrier Autoprestige operated by United European Car Carriers is also anchored in the bay awaiting lay-up in the Fal as sales in cars slump to an all time low with many car manufacturers winding down production throughout Europe. Up to 20 per cent of the large car carriers are being laid up.

One of Germany’s largest shipowners Reederei Claus-Peter Offen is laying up 10 containerships with two of the ships the Santa Giuliana and Santa Giulietta coming to the Fal in the next week.

Hamburg-based Claus-Peter Offen is one of the world’s largest suppliers of modern container tonnage with some 130 container vessels in service or under construction. The final details have yet to be confirmed as to which ship arrives first.

The statistics are frightening with estimates that 25 per cent of the world’s container ship tonnage will be in lay-up by 2011.

A major problem facing shipowners who lay-up a ship is whether to opt for a hot lay-up or cold lay-up. A hot lay-up is where seamen employed by the company are working on the vessel with some working machinery and the prospect of quicker and less expensive activation.

The cold lay-up is when a ship is totally shut down with just a few crew members or watchmen onboard looking after the security of the vessel. These ships take longer to re-activate.

With modern electronics and computerised navigation systems installed on ships the days of laying-up the old conventional ships are long gone with owners facing huge bills to have the ships properly mouth balled to protect sensitive electronic equipment.

Many owners are opting for hot lay-ups as they watch the markets daily ever hopeful of securing a charter or a cargo.