[Updated for 2023] The International Shipping Industry shares a major chunk, about 90%, of the global trade in goods. According to the International Chamber of Shipping, there are currently more than 50,000 merchant ships operating in the oceans.
Container ships (also spelt as containerships) are cargo ships that carry the load in large-sized intermodal containers. They are classified into various categories based on their carrying capacity.
Presently, there are seven major types of container ships in service. In ascending order, they are – Small Feeder, Feeder, Feedermax, Panamax, Post Panamax, New Panamax (or Neo Panamax) and Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV).
In 1956, Malcolm McLean created ripples in the cargo shipping industry by introducing the idea of containerships. Since then, the race to build the most efficient ships is on fire, producing some of the world’s largest container ships within the boundaries of physics.
The biggest container vessels now rival crude oil tankers and bulk carriers as the largest commercial seaborne vessels.
Largest Container Ships In 2023
We will be looking at a list of the world’s largest container ships in 2023 based on their capacity, which is measured in TEU (a Twenty-foot equivalent unit).
1. Ever Ace
With a capacity of 23,992 TEUs, Ever ACE is currently the world’s largest container ship. It set sail on her maiden voyage in July 2021. This 400-meter-long giant has 24 rows of side-by-side containers having a massive breadth of 61.53 meters. Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea built this modern marvel. The main engine is a 2-stroke Wartsila engine comprising 11 cylinders delivering 70950 Kilowatts of power which accelerated the ship to a cruising speed of 22.6 knots.
2. HMM Algeciras
HMM Algeciras has moved down to 2nd place in the World’s largest containership as EVER ACE took her spot in July 2021. It has a capacity of 23,964 TEUs, losing out on the top spot by just 28 containers. It is one of twelve 24000 TEU eco-friendly container vessels.
These container ships are also considered one of the most technologically advanced containerships in the world. The Panama-flagged vessel is 399.9 m long with 33.2 m depth. The ship has been constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering.
HMM plans to enhance its environmental capabilities by operating newly launched twenty containerships. The vessels are basically equipped with a scrubber system in preparation for IMO 2020 environmental regulation. In addition, optimised hull design and highly efficient engines are also expected to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
3. HMM Oslo
HMM Oslo follows closely behind her sister ship HMM Algericas in 3rd Place. Constructed by Samsung Heavy Industries, HMM Oslo and its sister ships made their maiden voyage in 2020.
The Panama Flagged Vessel is 400 meters long and 61.50 meters wide with a maximum draft of 16.50m. HMM Oslo has a carrying capacity of 23,792 TEU, only 172 TEU less than HMM Algeciras, the world’s largest ship.
4. MSC Gulsun
MSC Gulsun is the fourth-largest container ship in the world, operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company. It was one of the first vessels in history which could transport 24 container rows side by side owing to its massive breadth of 62 meters. It has a capacity of 23,756 TEUs and a length of 399.9 meters.
It was built by Samsung Heavy Industries and is registered in Panama. It is equipped with a dual-tower fire fighting system and is such designed that the increased container carrying capacity leads to a reduction in overall carbon footprint.
5. MSC Mina
MSC Mina also belongs to Gulsun class of container ships. Operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, MSC Mina has a container carrying capacity of 23,656 TEU.
Constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, the ship measures around 400 metres long and 61 metres wide.
6. CMA CGM Jacques Saadé
Jacques Saadé of CMA CGM is one of the world’s largest containerships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The vessel has a capacity of 23,000 TEU and measures 400 meters in length with a 61-meter beam and a height of 78 meters.
The Jacques Saadé is a group of nine container ships built by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.
7. OOCL Hong Kong
The OOCL Hong Kong was one of the largest containerships ever when it was launched in 2017. She is the first ship ever to surpass the 2100 TEU mark.
It is an engineering marvel produced by the firm Orient Overseas Container Line.
Constructed by the Samsung Heavy Industries, Geoje shipyard, it has a carrying capacity of 21,413 TEU. It is the largest container ship ever built, with a length of 399.87 metres, a breadth of 58.8 metres and a depth of 32.5 metres.
It was christened and delivered in May 2017 and serves the trade lane from East Asia to Northern Europe under the flag of Hong Kong.
According to OOCL, China’s One Belt One Road initiative and the signing of Hong Kong – ASEAN Free Trade Agreement has led to the creation of such a gigantic vessel.
8. COSCO Shipping Universe
This giant, with a carrying capacity of 21,237 TEU, is the largest cargo ship in China. It has a length of 400 metres and is 58.6 metres wide. Built-in 2018 by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), it was transferred to China Ocean Shipping Company Limited (COSCO).
For optimum performance and enhanced fuel efficiency, the ship is equipped with ABB Turbochargers, which help it achieve a maximum speed of 22 nautical miles per hour.
With a deadweight of 199,000 MT, the ship has become a flagship vessel of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which links China’s coast to Europe and Africa through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
It carries the flag of Hong Kong and plays a crucial role in implementing China’s One Belt One Road initiative.
9. CMA CGM Antoine De Saint Exupery
Named after the French author and aviator Antoine De Saint Exupery, it was built by Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, Philippines. It has a capacity of 20,954 TEU, making it the largest container ship to sail under the French flag.
It is 400 metres long and 59 metres wide and has a deadweight of 202684 MT. It was launched in 2017 and entered into service in February 2018 to serve in the French Asia Line 1 (FAL-1), the longest sea route connecting Asia to Northern Europe.
It is an environment-friendly vessel with a new generation engine and a Becker-twisted fin, ensuring significant reductions in oil consumption (-25%) and Carbon-di-oxide emissions (-4%). In addition, it has a system of filters and UV lamps for the treatment of ballast water, which ensures greater protection of marine biodiversity.
10. Madrid Maersk
This cargo ship was the first of the eleven Second Generation Maersk Triple E-class containers. Built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, it is the second container ship to surpass the 20,000 TEU mark with a capacity of 20,568 TEU.
Although the official capacity rating of the ship was set to 19,630 TEU, Maersk Line successfully modified the design resulting in the breaking of the 20,000 TEU mark.
With a deadweight Tonnage of 192,672MT, it measures 399 meters in length and 58.8 meters in breadth. The Danish container shipping major Maersk Line has ownership rights over the ultra-large container vessel (ULCV), while the A.P.Moller-Maersk Group operates it.
Six More Largest Container Ships In The World
11. Ever Golden
This is another giant cargo ship with an unbelievably high DWT of 218,000 MT. Having a length of 400 metres and a breadth of 58.8 metres, it is longer than four football fields combined.
It was built in 2018 by the Imabari Shipbuilding, Saijo shipyard. It is the first 20,000 TEU container ship built at Imabari Shipbuilding, among its sister ships, namely Ever – Goods, Genius, Given and Gifted, to be delivered to Taiwan’s cargo shipping giant EVERGREEN, which currently operates it.
It has an effective draught of 12 metres but lacks speed, with the maximum recorded speed being 11.4 nautical miles per hour. It carries the flag of Panama.
12. MOL Truth
Proudly carrying the flag of Panama, this ship is operated by the famous Ocean Network Express (ONE) group of Japan. The manufacturer Saijo shipyards of Imabari Shipbuilding Company Limited has ensured a huge size of 400 metres long and 58.5 metres broad.
With a deadweight of 189,766 MT and a loading capacity of 20,182 TEU, it operates in the Asia-Northern Europe trade route as part of ‘The Alliance’.
The MOL truth has various advanced technologies, such as low-friction hull paint, a high-efficiency propeller and PBCF (*2), a high-efficiency engine plant, and an optimized hull shape, which help it in reducing its environmental impact by reduction of CO2 emissions by up to 30%.
13. MOL Triumph
MOL Triumph is the seventh-largest containership in the world. It was built in March 2017 by Samsung Heavy Industries in Geoje, South Korea, for the Japanese shipping operator Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.
The vessel is the world’s first 20,000 TEU-class container ship. Triumph’s main engine is the MAN B&W G95ME, providing a maximum output power of 82,440 kW. This is enough to enable the vessel to traverse with a service speed of 22.0 knots, while the maximum recorded speed is 24.0 knots.
The dead weight of the box ship is 192,672 DWT, while the maximum cargo capacity is 20,170 TEU. In addition, the ship has various highly advanced energy-saving technologies, including low friction underwater paint, a high-efficiency rudder, and an improvised propeller, which reduces the water resistance and thus helps boost fuel efficiency.
14. COSCO Shipping Taurus
Carrying the pin-wheeled flag of Hong Kong, the Shipping Taurus is another marvel operated by the China Ocean Shipping Company Limited (COSCO). The ship was built in 2018 by Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding. It is a mono-hull ship meant exclusively for container carriage. The vessel has a length of 399.8 metres and a breadth of 58.7 metres.
Interestingly, it is one of the five sister ships of the DNV GL class, each having names of the five famous constellations, namely COSCO Shipping – Taurus, Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Sagittarius. Each has a loading capacity of 20,119 TEU and a gross tonnage of 194,864 MT.
15. MV Barzan
This Ultra Large Container Vessel (UCLV) is of the DNV GL class and was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Mopko, South Korea, in 2015. As of 2015, it held the record for the largest container ship.
Unlike the previous ships generally owned and operated by Chinese or Japanese companies, this vessel is owned by the United Arab Shipping Company (UASC).
Having a DWT of 199,744 and a gross tonnage of 195,636, this ship has far lower carbon emissions than Maersk EEE class container ships, making it a significant accomplishment in this regard.
In fact, it has the lowest per-container level of carbon emissions. Its ‘Energy Efficiency Design Index is quoted as almost 50% less than the International Maritime Organization limit set for 2025.
We have the famous Hapag-Lloyd as the operator and the flag of Malta on it.
16. MSC Diana
Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC Diana measures 399.9 metres in length, 58.8 metres in breadth and 30.2 metres in a draught. This Pegasus-class container ship, with a deadweight of 197708 tonnes, has a carrying capacity of 19,462 TEU.
The ship was built in 2016 by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries. It is currently registered and sailing under the Liberian Flag.
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