The biggest international container shipping companies in the world

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June 26, 2018

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The shipping industry today is a massive, multi-billion dollar business and it is the driving force behind today’s contemporary economy. Shipping accounts for about 90 percent of the world’s trade; it carries goods in quantities that any other mode of transportation cannot.

Today’s shipping industry is vast and although there is no single container shipping company that has monopoly, there are some international shipping companies that enjoy a larger slice of the pie than others.

The largest container shipping companies are rated based on the order of the Twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity of their fleet, as well as the number of owned and chartered ships. Data to identify the biggest and most successful international container shipping services was tabulated by Alphaliner, which records all the global TEU figures. Here is a list of the top 10 list of the world’s biggest shipping companies:

A.P. Moller-Maersk Group

Also commonly referred to as Maersk, A.P. Moller-Maersk Group is a Danish company that is known for its work in global transport, logistics,as well as the energy sector. Maersk has remained the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world since 1996. A.P. Moller-Maersk Group has subsidiaries and offices in more than 130 countries and operate 590 container ships. Maersk’s Triple-E vessels can accommodate about 18,000 twenty-foot containers.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. (MSC)

The Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. (MSC) is the biggest privately owned shipping company in the world. MSC has 480 offices in over 150 countries in the world and have containers in more than 315 different ports. Based in Geneva, Switzerland MSC it has an intake capacity of 2.43m TEU.



The CMA CGM Group is a container transportation and shipping company and is France’s leading company. Formed in the year 1978, today, it enjoys a fleet of over 350 ships working in over 150 routes globally.  The CMA CGM Group  enjoys a combined capacity of 1.55m TEU.


American President Lines (APL)

American President Lines, headquartered in Singapore enjoys a combined capacity of more than 1.1m TEU. APL is a fully owned subsidiary of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines. APL and its containers have been transporting cargo all over the world for the last 165 years.


German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd merged with Chile based firm Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores which boosted the conglomerate’s fleet size to 200 vessels and a capacity of one million TEU.

Evergreen Line

Evergreen Line is a containerized-freight shipping service based in Taiwan with a combined carrying capacity of just about 850,000TEU.  The Evergreen Line’s busiest trade route is situated between the Far East and North America. Evergreen currently operates in more than 10 countries and is considered one of the most successful in the world.

COSCO Shipping Co. Ltd.

COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited or China COSCO Shipping, is a Chinese state-owned enterprise based in Shanghai.  The group’s total fleet size is comprised of 113 merchant ships and a carrying capacity of 85.32 million DWT. By 2018,COSCO Shipping Lines hopes to expand the shipping fleet size to over 2 million TEU, which will make it one of the largest in the world.

Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

The Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation shipping company is based in Keelung, Taiwan. The Yang Ming company has a fleet of 85 vessels, as well as an operating capacity 346 thousand TEUS. Ming’s service range spreads over 70 nations with more than 170 service points.

Hanjin Shipping

Hanjin is one of South Korea’s largest shipping companies with a total of 170 container ships and bulk carriers. Hanjin’s largest ships can carry just over 13,000 TEU and it operates 12 container terminals in the world’s largest ports.

United Arab Shipping Company (UASC)

Originally founded in Kuwait, the United Arab Shipping Company was set up as a partnership between several UAE countries namely Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. It is currently based in UAE but has offices in over 180 countries and services more than 240 ports. Owing to 18,800 TEU ships and more to come, it is one of the most productive shipping companies today.


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