MSC Becomes First Carrier To Have A 5m Slot Fleet

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Credit: Tom Fisk/Pexels
  • Putting the landmark figure in perspective, the entire global container shipping capacity stood at 5m at the turn of the millennium.
  • A glance at MSC’s record-breaking orderbook suggests its fleet could surpass 6m slots by the middle of next year.
  • MSC’s next challenge will be to fill the capacity with profit-yielding cargo.

Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) is ready to surpass another milestone in its rapid growth spurt that has seen it top the liner rankings.

MSC’s 5m slot Fleet

The company is now just a couple of ship deliveries away from becoming the first liner firm in the world to operate a fleet in excess of 5m teu. 

Putting the landmark figure in perspective, the entire global container shipping capacity stood at 5m at the turn of the millennium.

MSC’s 753 strong fleet of owned and chartered container ships stood at exactly 4,956,720 teu yesterday, according to data from Alphaliner, and the imminent deliveries of the MSC Michel Cappellini (pictured) and MSC Gemma from Chinese yards in the coming couple of weeks will push the fleet past the 5m slot mark.

Fleet size doubled

MSC has now doubled its fleet size in just eight and a half years, and a glance at its record-breaking orderbook suggests its fleet could surpass 6m slots by the middle of next year.

MSC has not just been adding new ships. The shipping line has purchased what Alphaliner described in its latest weekly report as a “mind-blowing” 306 secondhand vessels since August 2020.

Vessel acquisition strategy

Commenting on the fleet build-up, Peter Sand, chief analyst at freight rate platform Xeneta, said MSC’s decision to go it alone once its vessel-sharing agreement with Maersk comes to an end in January 2025 has been central to its vessel acquisition strategy.

“With such scale, you choose your trade lanes with great care, and then you start to dominate the market,” Sand said.

MSC’s next challenge

Andy Lane, a partner at container advisory CTI Consultancy, told Splash: “To operate solo, and provide the same level of services and frequency requires scale, and MSC is leading that race.”

Lane cautioned that scale does not automatically translate into market share, and scale without high levels of utilisation is also not a winner.

“MSC’s next challenge will be to fill the capacity with profit-yielding cargo,” Lane said.

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Source: Splash 247