The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is now the largest shipping carrier by vessel capacity operated


Alphaliner’s global ocean fleet statistics show that the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is now the world’s largest shipping carrier in terms of container vessel capacity operated.

Some 52 years after its founding in 1970, MSC, the long-term number two, today, on January 5, 2022, overtook the Danish group Maersk as the world’s largest container line.

To date, MSC deploys a fleet of 645 container ships with a total capacity of 4,284,728 TEUs. The company thus has a global market share of 17.0%.

Unlike most of the other major ocean carriers, which reached their top ten positions through a series of mergers and acquisitions, MSC’s rise to power has been entirely organic.
In recent years, MSC has experienced strong growth, mainly through the gradual introduction of newly built large container ships. Since 2020, the Swiss company has also grown considerably thanks to the rapid acquisition of 128 used container ships: an unprecedented number in the history of maritime transport.

In the first quarter of 2022, MSC is expected to complete its first carrier acquisition and purchase a controlling 67% stake in Brazilian regional and national shipping and logistics company Log-In Logistica. This will add an additional ca. 15,000 teu of capacity in the MSC Group fleet.
Starting in 1970 with a German-built second-hand vessel of only 2,900 dwt, acquired from Hapag-Lloyd and renamed PATRICIA, MSC flourished and over the years developed into a massive group.

The MSC group, based in Geneva, has diversified interests in liner shipping (MSC, WEC Lines, Medlog, Linea Messina), terminals (TIL, MSC), ropax ferries (GNV), fast ferries (SNAV ), logistics (Medlog), cruises (MSC cruises) and other related fields.

In December 2021, MSC signed an agreement with the French group Bolloré for the acquisition of Bolloré Africa Logistics, a logistics provider and terminal operator in Africa on the basis of an enterprise value, net of minority interests, of 5. 70 billion euros ($ 6.43 billion). .
With a confirmed ship order book of almost exactly 1,000,000 teu, the largest of all carriers, MSC is expected to further consolidate its position as the world’s largest container line during 2022.

An up-to-date overview of the largest container lines is available online at

Some media have wrongly claimed that the MSC had already taken the top spot in late November or mid-December. Alphaliner rejects these reports as incorrect. These sources generally ignore the time lag between the agreement to acquire a used vessel and the actual rental and delivery to the new operator.

In addition, some sources incorrectly reported that MSC had already acquired Log-In Logistica and the associated vessel capacity. This is not true. The board of directors of Log-In Logistica approved an unsolicited offer to acquire a 67% stake by MSC on December 21, 2021, but the effective takeover is not expected to be finalized until the first quarter of 2022.

Likewise, the capacity of the Linea Messina fleet (around 23,000 teu) is not taken into account in MSC’s total, since MSC only controls a minority stake of 49%.

MSC is now the largest ocean carrier in terms of container vessel capacity operated. This includes vessels owned by MSC and vessels that MSC charters or leases from third party owners.

Alphaliner consolidates the capabilities of all vessels operated in groups of companies. For MSC, this includes a small number of vessels from intra-European carrier WEC Lines, as well as a small number of vessels operated by Medlog.

In the early days of 2022, MSC reduced Maersk’s capacity lead by taking delivery of other vessels it had already acquired second-hand last year. These include the MSC ADA F of 1,118 teu (formerly ADAM PEARL), the MSC MANASA F of 1,087 teu (formerly ALION) and the MSC GIADA III of 2,732 teu (formerly SCIO SKY).

The vessel that ultimately made the difference was the 4,992 teu MEXICO which until recently had been chartered from Maersk.
MSC had already purchased this vessel from non-operating owner XT Shipping in June 2021 for USD 50.5 million. The MEXCICO arrived at the Singapore anchorage on December 30 and was handed over to MSC a few days later. The 2020-built Panamax ship will leave Singapore early in the morning of January 6 under its new name MSC MEXICO.

For a period of a few weeks, the capacity gap between MSC and Maersk Group is expected to remain narrow, so daily fluctuations in the fleet from rentals and charter rentals could – theoretically – see Maersk Group resume activities for short periods.

MSC, however, is expected to become a permanent number one in the first half of 2022, when many large, newly built container ships are expected to be delivered to the carrier.
Source: AXS Marine

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