MSC is set to be the first container line to have fleet of 5m teu in capacity later this month according to analyst Alphaliner.

Marcus Hand | May 17, 2023

MSC overtook Maersk to become the world’s largest container carrier 16 months ago and continued stream of secondhand purchases and newbuildings has seen its fleet continue to grow rapidly.

In its weekly newsletter Alphaliner said MSC’s fleet stood at 4,956,720 teu across 753 ships as of 16 May and with the newbuildings MSC Michel Cappelini and MSC Gemma set to be delivered from Yangzijiang and CSSC respectively it would cross the 5m teu threshold before the end of May.

Putting the size and growth of MSC’s fleet in perspective at 5m teu it would be roughly equal to the entire global container shipping fleet at the turn of the millennium.

With a hefty newbuilding orderbook of 127 vessels with a combined capacity of 1.66m teu the 6m teu mark for MSC’s fleet is not much more than a year away. Alphaliner estimated it could reach a fleet size of 6m teu by mid-2024, although the exact timing depends on vessel acquisitions and sales.

The 2M Alliance with Maersk officially expires in early 2025 and MSC is seen as having the scale to go it alone outside of major alliances, as it has previously indicated it plans to do.

“Unlike most other shipping lines within the top-ten, MSC’s sheer scale will allow the carrier to offer attractive port pairs on all key trade lanes without joining another alliance set-up. Alphaliner nevertheless expects MSC to maintain se- lected smaller-scale partnerships on a number of trades,” the weekly report said.