Leading container shipping companies worldwide based on number of ships
Global seaborne trade was revolutionized in the 1950s, when the intermodal container was invented. Prior to the introduction of standard containers, cargo shipping used to be a lot more expensive, as well as time-consuming. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defined the capacity of intermodal containers, making the twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) a standard measure used in the transportation industry. Today, between 80 and 90 percent of containers shipped around the world are either forty or twenty foot standard length containers. The world’s largest container ship operator, APM Maersk, has the capacity to transport around 4.2 million TEU containers on its ships. The Danish shipper has some 763 ships in its fleet, about 457 of which are chartered ships. The number of Maersk’s chartered ships exceeds the number of total ships in the fourth largest shipper’s fleet: COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Company) has 351 ships in its fleet overall.