About The Industry

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.