10 Largest Container Shipping Companies In The World

largest container shipping companies

Want to know the largest container shipping companies? We have compiled the latest list of shipping companies that dominate the industry.

It won’t be a stretch to say that container ships form the backbone of world commerce. These ships enable the movement of a vast amount of goods to be through the ocean quickly and cheaply.

Container ships are cargo ships that move their load in truck-size standardized containers of freight. They revolutionized the way goods are transported across the globe.

Largest container shipping companies in the world

Following are some of the largest container shipping companies in the world.

1) Evergreen Marine Corporation

Evergreen Marine Corporation


Evergreen Marine Corporation is a container shipping and transportation company from Taiwan. It has its headquarters in Luzhu District, Taoyuan City, Taiwan. Evergreen corporation mostly operates between the trading routes from the Far East to North America, Central America as well as the Caribbean. It also operates from the far East to northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Other routes include Europe to the eastern coast of America, the Far East to Australia, Mauritius, South Africa, Asia, and South America.

Evergreen Marine Corporation has more than 150 ships in its fleet. Over the world, it operates on 240 ports spread over 80 countries. It is the fifth-largest company of its type.
Founded in 1968, the company presently employees more than 3000 people.

The ships from this company are usually painted green with the word evergreen written in block capitals in white.

The company belongs to the evergreen group of shipping transportation and other acquainted industries in Taiwan.  The current chairman of the corporation is Chang, Cheng-Yung.

In 2018 it had a revenue of 4.26 billion dollars. Some of its divisions include Uniglory Marine Corp. (Taiwan), Evergreen UK Ltd. (the UK, -2007), and Italia Marittima S.p.A. (Italy, -2007).

2) NYK


NYK is a Japanese shipping company. It stands for Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha. NYK is considered one of the largest and oldest shipping company in the world. It was founded on September 29, 1885. At the moment, it is 133 years old. Its headquarters are in Tokyo, Japan.

The company has more than 800 ships. These ships include container ships, tankers, woodchip carriers, bulk carriers, reefer vessels, LNG carriers as well as cruise ships.
Yasumi Kudo is the chairman of the company with Tadaaki Naito as its president. The company employs more than 33,000 people.

It has a net income of about 400 million dollars.  Most of the ships in the company are named after flowers, stars, constellations, old Japanese provinces etc.

In the first half of the 20th century, most of the merchant ships in Japan belonged to the Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha. Their ocean routes included those to Vancouver in Canada, Seattle, Hawaii and San Francisco in the United States of America, India and the Indian Ocean, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Locally, there are 78 home seaports out of which 38 seaports are open to foreign trade. The most important of these are Yokohama, Kobe, and Osaka.

3) Maersk


Maersk is a business industry which is involved in activities like transport, logistics, and several energy sectors. It is from Denmark. Its full name is A.P. Moller–Maersk Group. The company has its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The company is one of the largest shipping companies in the whole world and also quite often considered as the largest operator of container ships and supply vessels. It employs more than 88000 people and has nearly a thousand subsidiaries spread across 130 countries.

Some of the key people in the company are Søren Skou who is the CEO of the group and Claus V. Hemmingsen who is the Vice CEO.

This company is 114 years old. It was founded in 1904 by Peter Mærsk Møller and his son Arnold Peder Møller
In 2016 the company split into two separate divisions namely transport and logistics & energy. It is thought to have as many as 786 vessels that it operates.

In 2017 the company had a revenue of 35 billion dollars.

The logo of the company is a square with a blue background with a seven-pointed white star on it. It was given by P. M. Møller who was a very religious Christian.

4) Hapag-Lloyd

Hapag Lloyd Container Stack Train
Hapag Lloyd Container Stack Train

Hapag-Lloyd AG is an international transportation company based in Germany. It was formed in 1970 by the merging of two companies namely Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) and Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) or North German Lloyd (NGL). Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) was founded in 1847 while Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) was formed in 1856. The headquarters of the company are in Hamburg, Germany.

Some of the key people in the company are Rolf Habben Jansen who is the CEO, Nicolás Burr that is the CFO, Anthony James Firmin, the COO etc.

The company employs more than 13,000 people. It also has more than 130 ships which cater to over 5 million containers all over the world.

Hapag-Lloyd AG is one of the most renowned shipping and transportation companies in the whole world. In terms of capacity, it ranks number 5 in the world. It operates on trade routes across South America, Transatlantic, the Middle East, trans-pacific trades etc. Some of the other services that the company provides are international cruises and private jet services to the customers.

Some of the current, as well as former cruise ships of the company, are MS Europa, MS Europa 2, MS Bremen, MS Columbus etc.

5) MSC

MSC Tomoko
MSC Tomoko


The Mediterranean Shipping Company which is of an abbreviated as the MSC is one of the largest container shipping companies in the whole world. It is a Swiss company which has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

MSC has about 471 container vessels which makes it the second largest shipping company in terms of the number of container vessels.

It operates more than 480 offices spread across more than 150 countries over the world. MSC also employees more than 24000 people. It operates on more than 200 different trade routes with over 315 ports. The company operates in almost all of the major parts of the world. The most important port of the company is Antwerp in Belgium.

MSC launched the world’s largest container ship called the MSC Oscar in January 2015. It has a capacity of 19,224 twenty-foot equivalent units or TEU. A TEU is a unit used to measure the capacity of any container ship. The whole company has a capacity of more than 2,435,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

Some of the most important ships of the company are MSC Oscar, MSC Beatrice, MSC Bruxelles, MSC Camille, MSC Geneva, MSC Sabrina, MSC Chicago, MSC Leigh, MSC Zoe etc.

6) APL

American President Lines
American President Lines

The American President Lines or the APL is a transportation and shipping company. The company along with its parent company called the CMA CGM is the world’s third largest container shipping company. This company is more than 170 years old. It has its headquarters in Singapore and Rockville, Maryland in the United States of America. The company was originally a subsidiary of another company known as the Neptune Orient Lines or NOL. The NOL is an international transportation and logistics company which is based in France.

Founded in 1848, APL’s current chief executive officer of the company is Nicolas Sartini. The company employees more than 5000 people and also has a revenue of over 4.6 billion dollars. The company mainly operates in North America and Asia.

It provides more than 80 weekly services the main of which is container shipping. APL also has a container ship fleet which has more than 153 container vessels. It operates at 10 different strategic points around the world. These include Dutch harbor in Alaska, the United States, Kobe and Yokohama in Japan, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Laem Chabang in Thailand, Qingdao in China, Nhava Sheva in India and Kaohsiung in Taiwan.



The China Shipping Container Lines Co., Ltd was the Chinese Marine shipping company based in Shanghai. It was founded in 1997. CSCL does not work independently today but is a subsidiary of a company called COSCO.

In 2013 the container shipping market became crippled because of various factors such as weak global GDP, sluggish global trade growth, muted demand for container shipping etc. All of this cost a downfall of the container shipping industry. this also led to financial instability when it came to shipping businesses. Hence the company merged with a Chinese government-owned company called COSCO in 2015 and now is a subsidiary of it.

The two companies together now one of the largest container shipping companies in the whole world. The aim to expand their capacity to more than 2 million TEU which would make than the third largest container shipping company in the world.

The company has several ports all around the world with 30 ports being situated in south China and north China itself.

It has experienced rapid growth in recent years and aims to grow even more in the future. Thus, the company seems to have a bright future in the container shipping industry.

Photo courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/132991951@N07/17388967742/



China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company often abbreviated as COSCO is a Chinese transportation and logistics company. The company has its headquarters in Ocean Plaza which is situated in the Xicheng District in Beijing.

The company has 1114 ships, which include a fleet of ships with the capacity of 1,580,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), dry bulk vessels and a tanker fleet which contains over 120 vessels. It operates across 40 countries all over the world.

The company operates at around 1000 different ports all over the world. COSCO is also the fourth largest shipping company in the world in terms of the number of vessels. The company expects to increase the number of ships and its fleet by 400 very soon as it has bought a rival company from Hong Kong for 6.3 billion dollars.

The China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company was founded on April 27, 1961. Today, it is 57 years ago.

COSCO also has several subsidiary companies. The number of subsidiaries that the company is estimated to be more than 300. Most of them operate in China, Japan, and Singapore. These subsidiary companies mainly deal with businesses such as shipbuilding, ship repairing, container manufacturing, terminal operations, trade, finance, information technology, and even real estate.

9) Hanjin




Hanjin Shipping Co., Ltd. is a former South Korean logistics and container transport company. It was one of South Korea is the biggest shipping companies and one of the top 10 shipping and logistics companies in the world in terms of shipping capacity. It has its headquarters in South Korea.

Founded on 16 May 1977 the company rose quickly before going bankrupt. Hanjin was declared as dysfunctional on 17 February 2017.

It had a fleet of nearly 60 ships. This list included container ships, LNG carriers, and bulk. It transported and more than a hundred million tonnes of cargo every year. Hanjin also operated around the world and head offices in many different countries.

It has a capacity of 3.7 million TEU. The company also has several dockyards. It on a total of 14 dockyards which span across countries such as South Korea, the United States of America, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Belgium. The company also has several subsidiaries of its own.

The company was also the first ever to introduce a class carrier ship with a capacity of 10,000 TEU which travel from Asia to Europe.

On 17 February 2017 South Korean courts declared the company as bankrupt. The shipping terminals of the country were internationally distributed.


CMA CGM Hamburg
CMA CGM Hamburg

When translated in English the acronym of the company stands for Maritime Freighting Company – General Maritime Company. The CMA CGM is a container shipping and transportation company based in France. It is France’s leading company of its kind. It is also one of the largest worldwide shipping groups. CMA CGM has a total of 200 different shipping routes with more than 420 ports spread across 150 countries. Its headquarters are based in Marseille France. its North American headquarters are based in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States of America.

It was founded by Jacques Saadé in 1978. Jacques Saadé is also one of the key people in the company as its chairman. Rodolphe Saadé is the CEO of the company. It employs more than 29000 people.

In 2018, the company had a revenue of 21.1 billion dollars.

The shipping containers for this company are painted in dark blue with the words CMA CGM painted in white.

The CMA CGM also runs a foundation called the CMA CGM Corporate Foundation for Children which was started in 2005. Its main objective is to improve the well-being of children. Etiquettes to improve the everyday lives of sick children, promoting equal opportunities for underprivileged children, and encourage the personal development of differently-abled children.

As you have guessed the world has moved a great deal from the revolutionary clipper ships of the yore to modern container ships but the fascination for the largest and fastest remains the same in both seafarers and the general public.

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