«Land ahoy» say observers of the battered shipping sector, as they foresee the current crisis easing within the next 12 to 15 months. Analysts and professionals expect chartering rates to find their balance soon, led by dry cargo. The first important sign is the cancelation of over 3,500 new ship orders, while within the next five years about 8,000 ships are going to head for the scrapyard. International Maritime Organization (IMO) data showed that at end-2008 there were 11,580 orders for new ships, totaling 590 million deadweight tonnage (dwt) in capacity. Despite the significant drop in orders by Greek shipowners last year, it seems that 2008 was not after all the worst year of the last decade. According to data by the Moundreas shipbrokers, Greek shipowners ordered 172 new ships last year. This is far higher that the figures registered between 1998-2005, when orders ranged from 70 to 135 ships per year. The total capacity of the ships ordered last year was 19.3 million dwt. At the end of last year, outstanding orders by Greek shipowners reached 836 vessels, with a total capacity of 72.5 million dwt. That includes 463 dry-cargo carriers, 300 tankers, 38 container ships, 27 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers, six Pure Car/Truck Carriers (PCTC) and two liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers. «Given the existing data, we estimate that the market can return to a normal pace in the not-too-distant future. Therefore, a ship to be delivered in 2010 or 2011 can prove a very good trade act,» argues the annual report by Moundreas.