The World’s Largest Container Shipping Lines

NYK LineThe Global Maritime Logistics industry is almost unimaginably huge.

In my role as the Operations Manager for a major importer of finished goods into Canada from Europe and Asia, I was familiar with the names of many of the big players in the business – Mærsk,  P&O Nedloyd, and so forth – who carried a lot of our freight in twenty and forty-foot containers. But I really had little appreciation for how truly enormous the industry is, and how the ships themselves are virtual metaphors for the industry as a whole.

According to The World Shipping Council,  whose members operate approximately 90 percent of the global liner ship capacity, the liner shipping industry provides approximately 400 regularly scheduled services linking the continents of the world. Collectively, these services transport about 60 percent of the value of global seaborne trade, or more than US$ 4 trillion worth of goods annually.

The value of the liner shipping industry to the global economy exceeds $US 400 billion per year.

Some large container ships are capable of carrying 11,000 containers of cargo. As I pointed out in my article dated May 2, 2012 titled The Largest Ships Afloat, a new Triple E Class Mærsk vessel has been commissioned that will carry a remarkable 18,000 TEU’s and will be the largest container ship afloat when launched in 2013.

The World Shipping Council lists three major benefits to liner shipping:


Liner shipping is the most efficient mode of transport for goods. In one year, a single large containership might carry over 200,000 container loads of cargo. While individual ships vary in size and carrying capacity, many container ships can transport up to 8,000 containers of goods and products on a single voyage. Similarly, on a single voyage, some car carrier ships can handle 7,600 cars. It would require hundreds of freight aircraft, many miles of rail cars, and fleets of trucks to carry the goods that can fit on one large liner ship.


Liner shipping connects countries, markets, businesses and people, allowing them to buy and sell goods on a scale not previously possible. Today, the liner shipping industry transports goods representing approximately one-third of the total value of global trade. Additionally, as a major global enterprise in its own right, the international shipping industry is responsible for millions of existing jobs and plays a crucial role in stimulating new jobs. It contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy annually thereby increasing gross domestic product in countries throughout the world. Moreover, as the lifeblood of global economic vitality, ocean shipping contributes significantly to international stability and security.


Ocean shipping is the most carbon-efficient mode of transportation and produces fewer grams of exhaust gas emissions for each ton of cargo transported than air, rail, or road transport. In addition, new International Maritime Organization regulations establish strict standards for vessels’ NOx, SOx, and particulate matter emissions. Also, the millions of containers that are used around the world are now 98 percent recyclable.

In August 2011, Marine Insight magazine published a list of the Ten Largest Container Shipping Companies in the world. It makes for fascinating reading. All will be familiar to the seasoned professional customs brokers, but this might be news to the SCM practitioner outside of this specific field. It drives home the point about the importance of our profession to the world’s economies. Liner shipping is an integral part of global supply chains, and we all ought to have at least some appreciation of their worth. So here is Marine Insight’s list of the Ten Biggest. Enjoy!:

1. NYK: An acronym for the Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, the NYK is one of the biggest cargo companies operating internationally. [photo appears above]

The company has been in operation since the 1870s, operating a passenger fleet-line before undergoing a transition into a core container shipping company towards the mid-20th century.

2. Evergreen Marine Corporation: A shipping conglomerate bas

Evergreen Lineed in China, the Evergreen Marine Corporation was founded in 1968 by Dr. Yung-Fa Chang, a visionary in his own right.

At present, the company has offices established all over the world and with a operational capacity of more than 160 container ships is regarded to be one the largest cargo shipping companies in the world.

3. CMA-CGM: France’s leading container shipping company, CMA-CGM came into existence in the year 1978, as a result of series of mergers between previously established shipping corporations. Jacques Saade who is the head of the company was the instrumental force behind its coming into active operation.


At present, the company has a fleet of over 350 ships operating in over 150 routes globally.4. Maersk: A shipping corporation based in Denmark, Maersk Shipping Line is a branch of the AP Moller- Maersk company. Widely well-known for its fleet of container ships, the Maersk Line made its debut in the international container shipping arena in the year 1904.

Maersk LineAt present, the company has a fleet of around 500 container ships with a capacity of around 19, 00,000 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units).

Read more about the remaining six Big Players in this fascinating industry…and enjoy the pictures…by clicking here!


Your comments are appreciated.



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