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Top 40 Container Carriers

The JOC regularly ranks the Top 40 container carriers in the US trade by import, export, and total volume using trade data from PIERS.

The list evolves each year, and reflects changes in the US economy and container trade, as carriers jostle for position and import and export volume rises or falls.

Top Five Ocean Carriers

The Top 5 US carriers are Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co., CMA CGM/APL, Hapag-Lloyd, and Evergreen Line. With the exception of Evergreen Line, the Top 5 US carriers are also in the Top 5 for global fleet operators. The carriers are organized into global vessel-sharing agreements. Those currently in effect are the 2M Alliance of MSC and Maersk, the Ocean Alliance of CMA CGM, APL, Cosco Shipping, Evergreen Line, and OOCL, and the Transport High Efficiency (THE) Alliance of Ocean Network Express, Yang Ming Line, and Hapag-Lloyd.

Carriers have had to adjust to a new reality of growth following the Great Recession (2007 to 2009), when the GDP multiplier, which refers to the rate of global container trade growth as a multiple of global GDP expansion, fell from 2.2 to around 1.1.

This seismic shift occurred just as the industry was absorbing a surge of new capacity and carriers ordered and put into service mega-ships in excess of 20,000 TEU. That led to severe overcapacity that drove down rates and ate into carrier profitability and generated losses, culminating in the August 2016 collapse of Hanjin Shipping, which at the time was the world’s seventh-largest container line. 

Previous rankings

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-September 2017

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-June 2017

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-March 2017

Top 40 Container Carriers, US Import and Export Trades, January-December 2016

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-September 2016

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-June 2016

Top 40 Container Carriers US Import and Export Trades, January-March 2016

Top 40 Container Carriers, US Import and Export Trades, January-December 2015

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Export Trade, January-December 2014

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Import Trade, January-December 2014

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Export Trade, January-September 2014

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Import Trade, January-September 2014 

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Export Trade, 2013

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Import Trade, 2013

Top 40 Carriers in US Containerized Trade in the First Half of 2013

Top 40 Carriers in US Containerized Trade in 2012

Special Coverage

The top five carriers’ share will expand further when Maersk Line closes on its acquisition of Hamburg Süd.

News & Analysis

A Maresk container ship.
17 May 2018
Amid what the company called challenging market conditions, Maersk’s CEO said the first-quarter performance was “unsatisfactory," but the report was not without its positives; the company underscored that it has implemented initiatives to improve profitability and reiterated its 2018 earnings guidance.
The Port of Oakland.
16 May 2018
The more that blockchain becomes understood, the more conceptually, at least, it fits hand in glove with international logistics. But actually transitioning logistics to the paradise of transactions being recorded instantly and efficiently is proving to be quite a formidable task.
A Hapag Lloyd ship.
15 May 2018
Higher costs have weighed on results, slightly offsetting the positive impact of stronger volumes. Still, a key CEO offered an encouraging evaluation regarding the second half of 2018.
Maersk Line.
10 May 2018
Absent a profit motive, subsidized ocean carriers have at times been less rigorous in knowing and managing their costs and innovating. However, for several reasons, the subsidized model is not likely to end anytime soon.
The Port of Oakland.
05 May 2018
Change, and technological change, is occurring in logistics, but the analysis that argues ocean carriers are trying to put logistics providers out of business is a stretch. The more likely scenario is more diverse — and one that will ultimately benefit the customer.
Containers stacked at a port.
23 Apr 2018
Annual service contract negotiations between US importers from Asia and ocean carriers are moving slower than in past cycles. Beneficial cargo owners are holding out for lower rates, to offset rising supply chain costs elsewhere, but they may be disappointed by their efforts.

Commentary

The more that blockchain becomes understood, the more conceptually, at least, it fits hand in glove with international logistics. But actually transitioning logistics to the paradise of transactions being recorded instantly and efficiently is proving to be quite a formidable task.

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