Container Vessel Fleet
For the most current information about the global container fleet, including who operates the ships and what they have on order, we recommend Alphaliner Top 100 - Existing Fleet, which is available for viewing online or for downloading at: http://www.alphaliner.com/top100/index.php
Container ship operators can either deploy ships that they own, or they can charter the ships for operation from a ship broker. Most container ship operators deploy both owned and chartered ships.
According to Alphaliner, the global container fleet had a total capacity of almost 17 million TEU in July 2013. Container ships come in a variety of sizes and have grown increasingly larger over time. This resulted from two things: the first was the increased use of containerization - as more cargo was converted to containers, there were more containers for the ships to carry; the second was that there were certain efficiencies - like improved fuel efficiency - that could be realized with larger ships. Those efficiency improvements often reduced the operating cost.
The table below prepared by Alphaliner shows the world container fleet by size:
Because most container ship services operate on a weekly basis and call at the same ports every week, each service uses several container ships (generally anywhere from four to twelve) of a similar size. There are approximately 400 container ship services operating around the world.