Drewry says the number of containerships afloat decreased in the first half of 2014 and could fall on an annual basis this year for the first time in at least 20 years.
But because of the growing size of containerships, it says the nominal capacity of the global fleet continues to increase by about 6 percent a year.
It said about 230 new ships of all sizes are scheduled to be delivered in 2014, and 180 will enter the market in 2015, while demolitions are running at about 55 ships per quarter.
"So, the number of ships leaving the market is very close to the number entering the market," said Drewry. "But look more closely and you will see another trend. Of the 230 new ships of 2014, the majority of new vessels will be larger than 5,000 TEU. Whereas the sector where nearly all demolitions are happening is that of smaller ships of 5,000 TEU or less capacity."
Drewry said going forward, carriers may find smaller vessels to charter harder to find. It predicted reduction in the fleet of smaller vessels will create investment opportunities for certain types and sizes of vessels smaller than 5,000 TEU.