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Largest Shipping Companies

As the movement of goods across the globe continues to expand at a rate never seen in the history of mankind, so too does the shipping companies and their fast fleets of container vessels that traverse the four corners of the Earth.

Top Ten Largest Shipping Companies

Published: 27 January 2015

This week we review the world's largest shipping companies by TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit). While there are hundreds of carriers scattered across the globe, this is our top ten, of which some frequent New Zealand's various ports up and down the country.

Counting down from number ten...

NYK Logo

10. Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK)

A Japanese carrier and core Mitsubishi company, NYK boasts an annual capacity of 412,859 TEU spread across 155 container ships across the globe.



An acronym for China Shipping Container Lines Co. Ltd, CSCL operates 150 ocean vessels across the globe with an annual capacity of 565,567 TEU. Based in Shanghai, China, the company has seen tremendous growth since 1997 when it was founded.

Hanjin Logo

8. Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd

Hanjin is Korea’s largest shipping company with an annual capacity of over 579,000 TEU. Founded in 1977, the company has over 200 container ships, LNG and bulk carriers, operating 230 branches in 60 different countries.

APL Logo

7. American President Lines Ltd (APL)

APL is the seventh-largest shipping company in the world, with a fleet of 153 container vessels and an annual capacity of 600,000 TEU. A wholly owned subsidiary of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) which is based in Singapore, the company was originally founded in 1848 and was the first to use extra-large shipping containers (45ft containers in 1982, 48ft containers in 1985 and 53ft containers in 1988).

Hapag-Lloyd Logo

6. Hapag-Lloyd

Founded in 1970, Hapag-Lloyd is a German shipping company which formed following the merger of Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) and Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL). With over 150 container ships, its fleet has an annual capacity of 632,000 TEU making it the sixth largest shipping company in the world.



An acronym for China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, COSCO is a state-owned Chinese carrier with headquarters in Beijing. It has a fleet of 550 maritime vessels which includes 150 container ships with a combined annual capacity of over 700,000 TEU.

Evergreen Logo

4. Evergreen Marine

With headquarters based in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, Evergreen Marine is the fourth largest shipping company in the world with an annual capacity of over 904,000 TEU. Founded in 1968, its fleet consists of over 150 container ships which call on 240 ports across 80 countries.



CMA CGM S.A. is a French shipping company which was founded in 1996 following the merger of Compagnie Générale Maritime (CGM) and Compagnie Maritime d'Affrètement (CMA). With a rich history which can be traced back to 1851, CMA CGM S.A. is now the third largest shipping company in the world with an annual capacity now exceeding 1.56 million TEU.

MSC Logo

2. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)

MSC is a Geneva based Italian shipping company known across the globe as a container shipping heavyweight and cruise liner operator (MSC Cruises). Founded in 1970, the company has expanded from a single vessel called Patricia, to a 474 strong fleet of container ships, with an annual capacity of 2.3 million TEU.

Maersk Logo

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

Also referred to as Maersk, or Maersk Line, the APM Maersk Group is a Danish business conglomerate and the world’s largest container shipping company. Boasting over 100,000 employees worldwide with offices in 135 countries, the behemothic carrier has an armada of vessels (>600) which includes the world’s third largest container ship (by TEU capacity), the Magleby Maersk. Founded in 1904, Maersk has an annual capacity of 3.8 million TEU.
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