ClarksonResearch Services (CRS) says year-to-date 1,097 ships have exchanged hands comparedto 1,082 ships last year.

Salesby deadweight also look set to surpass last year’s total of 50.7mdwt with 50.1mdwtalready sold between January and mid-November.

However,the total value of vessels sold so far in 2012 is $12bn, some $6.45bn or 35%lower than the $18.45bn in 2011.

Bulkersales this year have already surpassed last year’s total by over 6% with some 385ships reported to have found new owners.

Capesizessold this year number 68 against the 41 in 2011, while panamax sales are upalmost 40% year-on-year to 92 ships.

Handymaxsales are still roughly neck-and-neck with 2011 at 105 ships, while in thehandysize sector sales are about 20% down on last year at 120 ships.

Thehigher number of capesizes sold has helped push the total sold by deadweight to28.7mdwt, up 33% on last year.

Byvalue S&P deals in the dry bulk sector have been worth $5.3bn so far thisyear. In 2011 the total was $5.65bn.

Tankersales so far this year number 194 ships, 13% down on last year due to fewerVLCC and aframax sales, the CRS figures show.

Thevalue of tanker S&P transactions has also fallen dramatically this yearfrom $5.6bn in 2011 to only $2.8bn this year, a fall of 45%.

Bynationality Greek owners are poised to surpass 2011’s total of 182 ships and atthe start of the week was just three ships shy of that total.

China,however, looks unlikely to match last year’s total of 117 ships. So far thisyear Chinese owner’s have bought 93 ships from the secondhand market.

Norwegiansare also significantly down on last year with only 22 ships bought in theyear-to-date against the 42 bought in 2011.

SouthKorea looks to be the surprise package this year with 2011’s total of 36 shipsalready passed with the total so far reaching 48 ships.

Recentcomments from a number of owners and shipbrokers seem to point towardsincreased S&P activity over the next six months.

“Wefeel prices are now getting to a level that buyers feel it is worth taking arisk,” Galbraiths said in a recent S&P market report.

“Yesthere will be little positive cash flow for the first 12-18 months and inreality there is little room for finance costs to be added to the opex.”

“Howevergood quality ships at today’s prices are becoming tempting to the cash rich andwe expect to see more traditional owners entering the fray over the next sixmonths.”

Ina recent conference call Safe Bulkers chief executive Polys Hajioannou said he believes the secondhand marketoffers “better value over a newbuilding.”

The US-listed Greek shipowner said second-handprices have dropped faster than those for newbuildings, which have room to dropanother 15% next year.

“We feel that second-hand prices havedropped much faster and also the risk associated with eight to ten-year-oldships at these prices is much less than a newbuildings if the prevailing lowmarket lasts longer than what we anticipate,” said Hajioannou.

He also believes that should the marketturn, most likely in 2014, good secondhand ships will “appreciate very fast andits price could climb 50%, 60% quite easily.”