The global merchant fleet
How many ships are there in the world? The number of ships in the world exceeds 50,000: As of January 2017, there were 52,183 ships in the world's merchant fleets. General cargo ships are ranked as the most common type of ship in the global merchant fleet, accounting for about a third of the fleet: There were almost 17,000 such ships in the merchant fleet as of the beginning of 2017.
General cargo ships had a combined capacity of around 112.8 million tons deadweight in January 2017; this is about half the volume of container ships’ combined capacity, which came to around 245.6 million tons deadweight. The growing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the industry asks for manufacturers’ response. With that in mind, new builds of general cargo ships are predicted to produce an average of 40 percent less carbon dioxide emissions by 2040.
Bulk carriers are ranked as the second most common type of ship in the world, accounting for over 20 percent of the global merchant fleet. As of January 2017, the number of bulk carriers stood at around 11,000. Crude oil tanks and container ships are the third and fourth most common types, with nearly 14 and about 10 percent of the share, respectively. The number of crude oil tankers rounded up to more than 7,000 units, while the number of cargo container ships in the world was at about 5,000 units in the beginning of 2017.