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The 10 Largest Container Shipping Companies in the World

From fuel, to clothes, to electronics and just about everything in-between, we rely on the largest container shipping companies in the world to bring to transport massive quantities of goods from distant shores to our own. Many people likely think of the world’s oceans as vast expanses of empty waves, yet the reality is that thousands of these massive ships are plying the earth’s waters daily, and some of the most popular sea routes are heavily trafficked as a result.

Which are the largest container shipping companies in the world who are responsible for these large scale  transportation of goods? The answer is in the article! Actually, it is difficult to get proper information on container ship capacities as the companies like to keep it a trade secret, and the capacity may be several thousand twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) higher. The collective TEU of the world’s many shipping operations is the factor we’ve used to rank them, providing us with this list of the ten largest container shipping companies in the world.

If this article hasn’t completely sated your desire for knowledge regarding shipping companies and their operations, we recommend you to have a look into our previous article on The Ocean’s 10 Biggest Shipping Companies. Now, on with the list.

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10. Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK)

Country: Japan

Founded: 1880

Total Capacity (TEU): 412,859

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, a core Mitsubishi company in Japan, presently manages around 776 major ocean ships, including 155 container ships, 286 bulk carriers, 113 car shippers, 21 reefer carriers, 55 wood-chip carriers, 30 LNG carriers, 78 tankers and 3 travel ships, in addition to its fleet of planes, trains and trucks. This company has 240 office locations in 27 countries, storehouses on almost every continent and marine operations around the world. It is popularly recognized as one of the ten largest container shipping companies in the world, and in fact, it is!

9. China Shipping Container Lines Co. Ltd (CSCL)

Country: China

Founded: 1997

Total Capacity (TEU): 565,567

This Chinese shipping company operates over 150 ocean vessels around the world, providing full container packed freight transports, warehouses and also electronic data transaction services. They also operate container trucks, terminal facilities and international cargo organizations in several countries. The company has been growing rapidly since its foundation and now is now one of the ten largest container shipping companies in the world.

8. Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd 

Country: South Korea

Founded: 1977

Total Capacity (TEU): 579,840

Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd  possesses over 200 container ships, bulk carriers and LNG carriers, operates around 60 liner and tramper services, and carries over 100 million tons of cargo yearly around the whole world. This company transports approximately 579,840 TEU worth of containers a year.

7. American President Lines Ltd. (APL)

Country: Singapore

Founded: 1848

Total Capacity (TEU): 600,000

American President Lines Ltd. is an international shipping company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), a universal transportation and logistics agency involved in shipping around the globe. This company operates a container-ship fleet, which includes 153 container vessels, several warehouses, bulk and LNG carriers.

6. Hapag-Lloyd

Country: Germany

Founded: 1970

Total Capacity (TEU): 632,000

Hapag-Lloyd is the sixth largest among the ten largest container shipping companies in the world. Its container-ship fleet comprises 151 ocean vessels. This company was built in 1970 as a union of two independent German companies, Hapag (Hamburg Amerikanische Paketfahrt Aktien Gessellschaft) and North German Lloyd (NGL) or Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL).

5. China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO)

Country: China

Founded: 1961

Total Capacity (TEU): 715,266

China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) is the worldwide shipping company which is the largest dry bulk carrier in China. This company possesses over 550 marine vessels with an annual capacity of 715,266 TEU and 30 million metric tons deadweight (DWT), operating in a thousand ports around the world.

4. Evergreen Marine Corporation

Country: Taiwan

Founded: 1968

Total Capacity (TEU): 904,608

Evergreen Marine Corporation is the fourth largest of the ten largest container shipping companies in the world. It has more than 150 ocean ships that dock at 240 ports in 80 countries around the world. The company’s ships are apparently noticeable by their bodies which are painted green and the word ‘Evergreen’ placed conspicuously on the sides of the ships in white letters.

3. CMA CGM S.A.

Country: France

Founded: 1978

Total Capacity (TEU): 1.56 million

CMA CGM is an international containerized-freight transportation and shipping company, operating along 170 shipping routes and 400 ports in 150 countries around the world. Their 170 ocean ships have a total capability of 1.56 million TEU of transport capacity.

2. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)

Country: Switzerland

Founded: 1970

Total Capacity (TEU): 2.3 million

Mediterranean Shipping Company is another large shipping agency, working all over the world on six continents. It has around 474 ocean vessels, and docks in 270 ports with an annual capacity of 2.3 million TEU. The most important port of MSC is Antwerp in Belgium. Moreover, the company owns ‘MSC Cruises’, which is a company based around tourist cruises.

1. A.P. Moller-Maersk Group (APM Maersk)

Country: Denmark

Founded: 1904

Total Capacity (TEU): 3.8 million

The APM Maersk Group is more than a shipping agency, working also in the energy sectors besides shipping and transportation. It operates more than 600 ocean ships with an annual capability of 3.8 million TEU, which is the largest in the world. The company currently has offices and services in 135 countries worldwide, with around 108,000 employees and stands as the largest container shipping company in the world today.