MSC is the first sea carrier to set a record with a fleet capacity of 5 million TEU

In a game-changing milestone for the global shipping industry, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has emerged as the first shipping company with a fleet capacity exceeding 5 million TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units), analysts at Alphaliner confirm.

The impressive performance underscores MSC’s meteoric rise in recent years, as the shipping giant achieved this remarkable growth from 4 million TEUs to 5 million TEUs in just 22 months. Notably, MSC has effectively doubled the size of its fleet in just eight and a half years, cementing its position as a leader in the maritime sector.

Alphaliner’s calculations show that since August 2020, MSC has bought 306 container ships with a capacity of 1.2 million TEU, buying virtually every vessel the company could get its hands on.

It is important to note that while the fleet capacity expanded significantly, MSC’s actual transport capacity saw a more moderate growth trajectory. This divergence stems from developing dynamics within the shipping industry, where ships have adopted slower steam speeds compared to two decades ago. This adjustment reflects the industry-wide commitment to reducing carbon emissions and improving environmental sustainability.

Switzerland-based containership giant MSC has by far the largest backlog in the industry with around 130 containerships on order, including the latest contract.

In January 2023, MSC placed an order for ten LNG-powered boxships with Zhoushan Changhong, a joint venture between the privately owned Jiangsu Xin Chang Jiang Group and the state-owned China International Marine Containers Group (CIMC).

The ten 11,500 TEU vessels were designed by CIMC’s subsidiary CIMC Ocean Engineering Design and Research Institute (CIMC ORIC). The delivery of the new buildings will take place between 2025 and 2026.

In addition to dual-fuel propulsion, allowing the ships to run on both LNG and conventional fuel, the ships will also feature the most advanced ammonia-capable design.

As part of the company’s ongoing fleet expansion, five ships in the 24,000 TEU class have been delivered since the beginning of this year.

Namely, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding has delivered the huge 24,116 TEU MSC Tessa and MSC Celestino Maresca to MSC. The 24K vessels delivered to MSC also include MSC Raya, MSC Irina and MSC Loreto.

Measured by their deadweight capacity, the ships are the largest container ships in the world.

MSC is scheduled to receive a whopping 33 Neopanamax and Megamax ships this year. Presumably, MSC will seek to channel much of its fleet growth into new standalone loops outside of the 2M as the airline prepares for the end of the VSA with Maersk in late 2024, according to Alphaliner.

Data from the market analyst suggests that MSC, with around 127 vessels with a capacity of 1.66 million TEU, appears on track to reach 6.75 million TEU in two years if no older tonnage is scrapped.

However, Alphaliner assumes that MSC will shrink its smaller tonnage to below 8,000 TEU and stabilize at around 6 million TEU.

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