SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) — Global new orders of ships fell to a historic low in the first half of the year amid the coronavirus pandemic, industry sources said Tuesday.

In the January-June period, global new shipbuilding orders totaled 5.75 million compensated gross tons (CGTs), or a total of 269 ships, according to data provided by global market researcher Clarkson Research Service.

The tally marks the lowest since 1996, when the market tracker began to compile related data, and a 42 percent drop from the previous year, the data showed.

By country, Chinese shipbuilders clinched new orders totaling 3.51 million CGTs, or 145 ships, in the January-June period, taking up 61 percent of the total, trailed by South Korean shipbuilders with 1.18 million CGTs, or 37 ships, and Japanese players with 570,000 CGTs, or 36 ships.

In June, global new shipbuilding orders came to 820,000 CGTs, or 30 ships, up 26 percent from the previous month but down 51 percent from a year earlier.

Chinese shipyards bagged orders totaling 460,000 CGTs, or 16 ships, followed by South Korean shipbuilders with 250,000 CGTs, or 4 vessels, according to the data.

As of end-June, Chinese shipbuilders had the largest order backlog at 26.13 million CGTs, accounting for 37 percent of the total, with South Korean shipbuilders having order books totaling 19.76 million CGTs and Japanese shipbuilders 9.54 million CGTs.

However, global shipbuilding orders may improve slightly as liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers were to be ordered from Russia and Mozambique, industry sources said.