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 Ocean Carrier 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

Home construction in Texas, United States.
11 Aug 2018
Backers of tariffs always promise positive results for the domestic economy. But tariffs were tried by the United States and many other nations in the early stages of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Now how did that work out?
Port of Los Angeles.
10 Aug 2018
Space is so tight today in the eastbound Pacific that some beneficial cargo owners are paying higher than spot rates to get their shipments on vessels leaving Asia. However, there is a qualifier to that trend shippers should know about.
Container ships at the Port of Oakland.
10 Aug 2018
Unless ocean carriers radically change the paradigm on how they go to market, the Jan. 1, 2020 sulfur cap on bunker fuel will represent another cost that carriers fail to pass on to customers. How many other industries operate this way?
A Yang Ming ship.
10 Aug 2018
“While we are seeing others in the container ship industry face similar struggles, Yang Ming anticipates a healthier second half, driven by an improving supply and demand ratio,” the ocean carrier said.
Hapag-Lloyd.
10 Aug 2018
“For the remainder of the year, we see a slow but steadily improving market environment, but we recognize that there are still significant geopolitical uncertainties that could influence the market,” said Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of the world’s fifth-largest ocean carrier.
Maersk Line.
07 Aug 2018
Maersk said it continues to encounter very high bunker prices, which have not been fully compensated for in freight rates.

Commentary

Beyond the headlines, the tariffs are making structural changes to the US economy that will impact consumer and export demand for the coming years.