Top 40 Container Carriers

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-December 2018

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

Top 40 Container Carriers, US Import and Export Trades, January-December 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, 2013

Top 40 Container Carriers in US Import Trade, 2013

Top 40 Carriers in US Containerized Trade in 2012

Special Coverage

JOC Top 40 container carrier rankings first half 2019
Container carriers in the slowing US import and export trades are exercising increased discipline, maintaining capacity levels rather than introducing new vessels in an attempt to secure a larger share of the market.

News & Analysis

19 Jun 2020
HMM will be switching from BNSF Railway to Union Pacific Railroad in August, a move that allows it to prioritize efficient inland movement of containers within THE Alliance.
Rotterdam port.
30 Jan 2019
The injection of vessels comes as demand growth of Asia-Europe westbound volume slows.
Port of Los Angeles.
30 Jan 2019
Container and chassis dwell times in Los Angeles-Long Beach edged lower in December.
Blockchain and container shipping.
29 Jan 2019
New research shows blockchain technology has a way to go before convincing the majority of enterprises of its near-term value.
CMA CGM.
28 Jan 2019
CEVA Logistics wants shareholders to bear in mind the benefits of its strategic partnership with CMA CGM and turn down a bid by the carrier, highlighting the growth inherent in the company.
Mundra Port.
24 Jan 2019
India relaxed cobotage rules in May to allow any ocean carrier to transport goods.
A container ship accepts fuel.
24 Jan 2019
This lack of clarity on future high- and low-sulfur fuel costs worries BCOs and NVOs as they enter the more critical second phase of negotiations in March.
Blockchain pyramid.
24 Jan 2019
While blockchain has captured the imagination of the logistics world, it's important for most to focus on the application layer (actual solutions) and not so much on the underlying structure.
Port of Oakland.
23 Jan 2019
Shippers are starting to see the beginning of the pipeline of value-added services, but the rollout won’t make a splash like the deployment of a mega-ship.
Trans-Pacific shippers' 2019 outlook
23 Jan 2019
The annual survey of shipper views on the most important issues in the trans-Pacific trade.
Blockchain infographic Jan. 2019.
22 Jan 2019
Shippers have largely struggled to understand the benefits blockchain technology brings to their supply chain and at what cost.
Rotterdam port.
15 Jan 2019
“If a carrier comes with a 30-day transit and they suddenly change to 40 days, we need to know about it one month in advance,” a shipper of medical products said.
Global trade and logistics technology.
14 Jan 2019
Shippers' conundrum: if carriers are poor at arriving on time, why do shippers believe those carriers will be better at providing data in a timely manner, much less a predictive one?
Low-Sulfur Fuel Regulation infographic.
11 Jan 2019
Bunker surcharges have been revised by carriers to mitigate the effect of the IMO sulfur cap of 0.5 percent starting Jan. 1, 2020.
Port of Oakland.
10 Jan 2019
If there was ever a year when the outlook for reliability in the system was more clouded, 2019 and into 2020 would take the prize.
DP World Santos.
08 Jan 2019
Shippers are concerned that they will pay for service consolidation.
port of Antwerp.
08 Jan 2019
Shippers can expect a far more aggressive approach to matching vessel supply with demand.
Technology and shipping.
08 Jan 2019
Fissures have appeared, ranging from member frustration in standards-setting organizations to deeper concerns about the viability of the technology in the container shipping space.
Container shipping.
08 Jan 2019
Carriers among the other two alliances are expected to announce their own blanking programs.
Container ships on the Elbe.
07 Jan 2019
Increasing use of the available capacity in both directions and the impact of service shifts in 2018 could mean shippers find it more difficult to find carrier space for containers this year.
The Port of Oakland.
03 Jan 2019
Here are a few certainties shippers and their transportation providers can bank on for 2019.
Container shipping.
03 Jan 2019
The surcharges and rate increases are coming in hot as 2019 gets under way, with carriers trying to keep prices up into the Lunar New Year peak.
Maersk Line SeaLand.
14 Dec 2018
It's the latest sign of an ocean carrier strategy of trying to cut costs by pushing shippers to secure slots digitally.
Two container ships near Rotterdam port.
12 Dec 2018
Two variables shippers will have to determine that will likely influence the instant quote practice’s acceptance/rejection are — will the shipper's business model benefit from an instant quote and an immediate booking? And how much of a premium are shippers willing to pay to obtain them?
A heavy lift ship.
10 Dec 2018
Both clauses are designed to be "simple and practical" and ease the global fleet's Jan. 1, 2020 transition to a low-sulfur fuel era, BIMCO said.
An MSC ship.
10 Dec 2018
After four straight months of declining demand growth on the westbound Asia-Europe trade, container volume has started to increase.
A container ship at sea.
07 Dec 2018
The new tools provide peace of mind for a segment of shippers who want web-based booking tools, and also offer a path to value/service differentiation for ocean carriers. But what happens to the value proposition of NVOs and their decades-long relationships and nuanced, specialized services?
A container ship at sea.
07 Dec 2018
The European Commission said that several EU member states and EU shipbuilding associations have complained about carriers in Asia receiving state subsidies.
An HMM ship.
06 Dec 2018
HMM is trying to reverse a loss trend that most recently saw it post a $147 million net loss in the third quarter, which it blamed on high fuel prices.
BACTSSA Terminal, Puerto Nuevo, Argentina
05 Dec 2018
After Argentina's implementation of market-friendly policies, trade officials hope that the nation has bottomed, concerning trade volumes, after a decade of stagnation.
A CMA CGM ship.
05 Dec 2018
CMA CGM is the first carrier to participate on the marketplace hosted by Freightos, a technology startup that until now only provided aggregated rates to forwarders.
Maersk calls for aid to be carbon-neutral by 2050
05 Dec 2018
Container shipping is at a key point in its pursuit of carbon neutrality, and Maersk wants industry help in cleaning up the business.
Blockchain technology and container shipping.
04 Dec 2018
Tyler Smith, director of Viant, a blockchain-based supply chain modeling software company, said consortia have not proven their value, so far, but hopefully they will. He added that consortia are a way to get people involved.
Port of Montreal.
03 Dec 2018
Maersk Line will stop at the port of Montreal only, and no longer the port of Halifax, on its route linking Canada to Europe, to speed up transit times.
30 Nov 2018
The cuts come even amid reports of Brazilian coffee and cotton exporters scrambling for outbound capacity out of the ports of Santos and Vitoria.
ZIM San Francisco.
29 Nov 2018
The combined US import market share of the Top 5 US import carriers slipped 0.3 percentage points to 58.1 percent from January through September, while the Top 5’s US export share fell 0.8 percentage points to 58.4 percent, according to data from PIERS, a sister product of JOC.com.

Commentary

Three issues will have a major impact on the container shipping world for all stakeholders in 2019: trade squabbles, carrier capacity management, and low-sulfur fuel cost recovery.

More Commentary