Recently I did some research on the 10 largest warehouses in the world and their actual size. Luckily, you know which warehouse is on top of that list. So now we can go on to the next logistics giant of the world: container ships. Because you as a freight forwarder know just like me – or probably better – that these be pretty huge as well. But how huge is not quite familiar to me. Therefore, I took a look at the 10 largest container ships in the world.

An introduction to the largest container ships in the world: ULCS

At the beginning of my search, I bump into the abbreviation ULCS. This stands for UItra Large Container Ship and this is the collective name for container ships with a container capacity of 10,000 TEU or more. This is the standard measurement unit in which we express the capacity of a container ship: Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit. To give an image, you can assume that a standard container usually goes for two TEUs. In other words: a ULCS ships at least 50,000 standard containers.

Counting down to the largest container ships in the world

With this foreknowledge, we can count down to the largest ULCS of all. But before we will do this, I need to comment that ships are not as unique as warehouses. There is usually just one unique warehouse, but ships come in multiple editions of the same model. Therefore I will make a list of the 10 largest models to make the list a bit more varied.

10. The smallest big boys: Ever Glory, – Govern & – Globe

At the bottom of the list, we find the three models built in 2019 by shipping company Evergreen Marine. These are the Glory, Govern, and Globe. With 20,160 TEU, these ships already have a double capacity of what an Ultra Large Container Ship at least needs to have. In practice, this is a ship 400 meters long and  58.8 meters wide. This means that four football fields of containers can be stored on it and in that case we are only mentioning the surface. Because stacking containers is also possible, up to a maximum deadweight (DWT) of 199,489 tons.

9. The moles of the Marshall Islands

Next number 9 in the top-10. The MOL ships of shipping company ONE are not longer or wider, but they were built more efficiently in 2017. Instead of 20,160 TEU, these four (Tradition, Tribute, Trust, and Triumph) ships have a container capacity of 20,170 TEU. But although they can store more containers on their deck, they have a lower DWT and Gross Tonnage (GT) than the Glory, Govern, and Globe. You can decide for yourself which aspect is more important.

8. Followed by the moles of Panama

On the eighth spot, we find two other models of shipping company ONE. And these ships too, belong to the MOL line. These are the Truth from 2017 and the Treasure from 2018. And these ships do not excel in size either; they are less long (399 meters) and less wide (58,6 meters). But these ULCS under the Panamanian flag does have a capacity of 20,182 TEU.

7. Seven Ever ships of Evergreen Marine 

On to the seventh place, there are completely applicable seven Ever ships of Evergreen Marine. Try to say that at loud quickly. These ships from 2018 have the same measurements as the numbers 9 and 10. The dead weight is bigger though and the same applies to the container capacity, of course. These models can carry 20,388 TEU or 10,194 standard containers. And these ships are mainly sailing under the Panamanian flag, excluding two (Singaporean and Liberian).

6. Maersk and the alliterating cities

The Danish multinational Maersk is in sixth place with eleven (!) ships. And all these ships are named after a city that begins with the same letter as Maersk: M. This is already an achievement; try to think about eleven international cities that start with an M. One I will give to you: Maastricht in the Netherlands. With a container capacity of 20,568, these ships can store considerably more containers than the bottom-4.

5. The largest container ship in the world?

At the center of the list, we run into the largest container ship in the world. In length, that is. With a length of 400 meters and a width of 59 meters, the three CMA CGM ships built in 2018 are the largest vessels on our seas and oceans. Of these three rules the other two are: the Antoine de Saine Exupery. Because besides a TEU of 20,954, this ship also has the largest deadweight of a stunning 202,684 tons.

4. The Hong Kong ships of COSCO

We are almost at the top three, but first, we will go to the giants of shipping company COSCO. With six ships dated from 2018 and 2019, the Chinese shipping company is the first one to go through the barrier of 21,000 TEU. These six ships, all named after galactic terms such as Nebula and Solar, have a capacity of 21,237 TEU. They all carry a ship’s flag of Hong Kong, which is to be seen on the almost 400 meters long ship.

3. We will stay in Hong Kong for a while

On the bronze spot, there are again ships that carry the Hong Kong flag. But this time the ULCS belongs to the shipping company OOCL. Since 2017, the OOCL Hong Kong was the largest ship in the world, until the competitor started building heavily in 2019. The six ships in third place can carry 21,413 TEU and are all named after geographical areas. Besides Hong Kong, they carry the names Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and Indonesia. All of them are 399.9 meters long and 58.8 meters wide.

2. MSC + Panama = gigantic ships

After bronze there is silver and this place is earned by three ships of MSC: Mina, Isabelle, and Arina. These are the first ships in the list that are wider than 60 meters, namely 61 meters. Combined with the length of 399,8 meters they have a container capacity of 23,656 TEU. Also, the difference in dead weight and Gross Tonnage is considerable with the competitors. These are respectively 228,149 tons and 232,618.

1. Really gigantic ships.

The sum in the heading before already spoiled it a bit: the first place also goes to MSC and these ships carry the Panamanian flag. The MSC Gülsun, Samar, and Leni are the largest container ships in the world. With a length of 399,9 meters, a width of 61,5 meters, and a container capacity of a stunning 23,756 TEU, these guys are rightly called an Ultra Large Container Ship.

Concluding the largest container ships in the world

Contrary to the largest warehouses in the world, there is not much difference between the ten largest container ships in the world. Each ship is about 400 meters long, around a width of 60 meters, and can carry between 20- and 24,000 TEU. That being said, think about how we can trace each article through EDI, blockchain, and other smart technologies nowadays. If you take a look at the MSC Gülsun above, it is almost unimaginable. Freight forwarding is going places. Do you want to know where? Watch our on-demand webinar. Or contact us and we will help you to get there.