The Biggest Shipping Companies in the World

Shipping is an extremely vital industry that most people are not aware of. Have you ever wondered how exotic fruits from Asia can end up still fresh and juicy in Europe or North America? The shipping industry plays a huge part in all these by helping us achieve the goals of globalization and making this world look like just one small town.

The industry is also a billion dollar business. Here now is a list of the top 10 largest shipping companies in the world.

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10 Orient Overseas Container Line

Orient Overseas Container Line is a shipping container and logistics service company based in Hong Kong. It has 280 offices in 55 countries and provides 78 services in international trading markets. The company was established in 1969 and has a fleet of more than 270 ships with different capacities and capabilities. Its ships range from 2,500 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEU, to 13,000 TEU. It also owns some ice class vehicles that can be used for extreme weather conditions. It is a member of the Grand Alliance that includes Hapag Lloyd and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha.

9 Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., or MOL, is a transport company based in Tokyo but whose main line of business is international shipping. The company was established in 1884. It was formed as a result of the merger between Mitsui Steamship Co., Ltd. and Osaka Shosen Kaisha, or OSK. Its fleet includes bulk carriers, car carriers, cruise carriers, ferries, LNG carriers, tankers and container ships.

8 Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, or NYK, is a member of the Mitsubishi Group of companies. It is based in Tokyo in Japan and is one of the largest shipping companies in the world. It can trace its roots all the way back to 1870 when the Tosa clan established the Tsukumo Shokai Shipping Company. It has the distinction of operating the first passenger line service in the country, which it did in 1875 as Mitsubishi Shokai. It currently operates 776 major ocean vessels, apart from its fleet of planes, trucks and trains.

7 Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd.

Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. is a shipping company founded in 1949 and based in South Korea. It has a fleet of more than 200 ships, including containerships, bulk carriers and LNG carriers. It ships more than four million TEU containers every year, with more than half of them at 2.3 million being handled in the terminal in Busan. The company makes use of Gantry cranes and operates around 60 liner and tramp trade services all over the world.

6 Hapag Lloyd

Hapag Lloyd is a transportation company based in Germany that was founded in 1970. It can trace its roots to the middle part of the 19th century, however, as the company is a result of the merger between the Hamburg Amerikanische Paketfahrt Aktien Gessellschaft, or Hapag that dates back to 1847, and Norddeutscher Lloyd, which was established in 1856. The company also purchased CP Ships, a Canadian liner, in 2005. The company currently has 147 vessels.

5 China Ocean Shipping Container Line

China Ocean Shipping Container Line, or COSCO, is a provider of shipping and logistics services based in China. The company was established in 1961. Its main lines of businesses are freight forwarding, shipbuilding, ship repairing, and operation of terminals. It is the largest liner carrier and dry bulk carrier in China, and one of the largest dry bulk shipping operators in the world. It has more than 300 subsidiaries and owns and operates around 550 ships. Its total carrying capacity is 30 million metric tons deadweight.

4 Evergreen Marine Corporation

Evergreen Marine Corporation is a shipping company founded in 1968 and based in Taiwan. It has over 150 ships that call on 240 ports around the world in around 80 countries. Its ships are easily distinguishable by the color green and the word Evergreen painted prominently on the side of the ships. The company also owns another company in Taiwan called Uniglory Marine Corp., and has subsidiaries in the United Kingdom called Evergreen UK Ltd. and Italy called Italia Marittima S.p.A.


CMA CGM S.A. is a transportation container and shipping company based in Marseilles in France, with a North American headquarter in Norfolk in Virginia. It traces its roots to 1851 with the founding of Messageries Maritimes, or MM, which merged with a company called Compagnie Generale Maritime, or CGM. CGM was a state company that was privatized in 1996 and sold to Compagnie Maritime d’Affretement, or CMA. As CMA CGM, it went on to buy the Australian National Lines and Delmas of France. The company now has 200 routes operating in 400 ports in around 150 different countries.

2 Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. is a shipping line based in Geneva in Switzerland. Established in 1970, the company has a presence in all the major ports around the world, though its most important port is the one in Antwerp in Belgium. It currently operates 474 vessels with a total combined capacity of 2.3 million TEU. It has vessels with a capacity of 13,800 TEU, including the MSC Beatrice and the MSC Emanuela, the latter of which is considered to be one of the largest container ships in the world. It has been named as Shipping Line of the Year six times in a span of 11 years starting from 1996.

1 A.P. Moller - Maersk Group

A.P. Moller – Maersk Group is a conglomerate based in Copenhagen in Denmark that was established in 1904. It is considered as the largest container ship operator and supply vessel operator in the world. The company has held that distinction since 1996. It operates 600 vessels with 3.8 million TEU. It also owns the ship Emma Maersk, considered as the largest container ship in the world. The company has a presence in 135 countries around the world.

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