Germany Leads Container Ship Ownership in the World


The UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2017 presented its analysis of the world fleet and ship ownership details in its recent report.

Container ships are the work horses of the global liner shipping network that connects and supports global value chains and trade in manufactured goods. Table 2.4 depicts the container ship fleet ownership in TEUs.

The report states that, Germany continues to be the largest owner, with a market share of 21.46 per cent, followed by China and Greece.

The largest container ships of 17,000 TEUs and above are owned by carriers from China, Hong Kong (China), Denmark, France and Kuwait. German and Greek shipowners, most of which are not liner shipping companies, do not own any container ships of this size. They are primarily charter-owners, namely companies that charter their ships out to liner companies that provide a particular shipping service.

Table 2.5 provides a ranking of the top 50 liner shipping companies. As of May 2017, Maersk (Denmark) continues to be the largest liner shipping company in terms of operated container ship capacity (3.2  million TEUs), followed by MSC (Switzerland) and CMA CGM (France). Most liner shipping companies own about half the ships they deploy on their services, while the other half is chartered in. This practice explains why the leading liner companies (table 2.5) are not necessarily from the same countries as the leading container shipowners (table 2.4).

The years 2016 and 2017 are characterized by a new wave of mergers among liner shipping companies, as well as significant changes in the composition of alliances among them. These developments will be discussed in the context of freight markets in chapter 3. Trends in the service patterns and vessel deployment will be analysed in detail in chapter 6 on maritime connectivity.

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