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Global number of container ships 2011-2020

Some 5,371 container ships were serving sea routes worldwide in 2020. China, Japan, and South Korea were the world's major shipbuilding nations in 2018.

The global ocean fleet

Over the past decade, the number of container ships in the the global fleet increased from 4,966 ships in 2011 to 5,371 ships in 2020, while the carrying capacity of the global merchant fleet reached roughly 1.97 billion deadweight tons in 2019. Based on the chartered twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), Mediterranean Shipping Co. is the leading container ship operator worldwide.

The impact of COVID-19 on ports

As of the beginning of March 2020, about 80 blank sailings were announced in global maritime traffic due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with China being the worst-hit region at the beginning. Between the Chinese New Year and mid-March, 108 blank sailings were announced on deep-sea shipping routes due to the pandemic. In Latin America, some ports were negatively affected, while others experienced a year-on-year increase in container traffic in the 1st quarter of 2020.

Number of container ships in the global merchant fleet from 2011 to 2020

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Release date




Survey time period

2011 to 2020

Supplementary notes

To retrieve the data, select Maritime transportation from the Folders menu, select the "Merchant fleet by flag of registration and by type of ship, annual" table, and from the drop-down menu in the table, select Measure: Number of ships.

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Statistics on "Container lines worldwide"

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