Top 10 World’s Largest Container Ships – 2019 Updated List!

If you are in a hurry to find out the World’s Largest Container Ships, just skip to this table below.

Containers ships are cargo ships designed to carry its cargo in intermodal containers, using a technique called “Containerization”. Container Ships contributes about 90% of non-bulk cargo transport worldwide.

The largest type of container ships (Mega-max) can carry more than 23,500 TEU. Based on their container carrying capacity (TEU-Twenty Equivalent Unit), Container ships are distinguished into 7 major categories as listed below.

Small feeder Up to 1,000
Feeder 1,001–2,000
Feedermax 2,001–3,000
New Panamax10,000–14,500
Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) 14,500–23,500

The revolutionary Concept of Containerization was introduced way back in the late 18th century by James Brindley of England. He designed the box boat Starvationer with 10 wooden containers to transport coal.

Fast forward to April 26, 1956, the first commercially successful container ship Ideal X (a converted T2 tanker of World War II) was launched by Malcom McLean. This caused a revolution in the world of shipping and leads to the new era of modern Container ships.

From thereon the competition to hold the title for World’s Largest Container ship also started. This paved the way for largest Container Ships production to rival Ultra Large Crude Oil Tankers and Bulk Carriers.

List of World’s Largest Container Ships

1MSC Gulsun + (5)*399.923,756
2OOCL Hong Kong + (5)*399.921,413
3COSCO Shipping Universe + (3)*400.021,237
4CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery + (2)* 400.020,954
5Madrid Maersk + (10)* 399.020,568
6Ever Golden + (10)* 400.020,388
7MOL Truth + (1)* 399.020,182
8MOL Triumph + (3)* 400.020,170
9COSCO Shipping Taurus + (4)* 399.820,119
10Barzan + (5)* 400.019,870

*Ship owners usually order set of identical ships, are called as Sister ships. The number of Sister ships are mentioned inside the bracket.

1. MSC Gulsun

Top 10 World’s Largest Container Ships - 2019 Updated List! 1
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MSC Gulsun is the World’s largest container ship ever built to date. It is the first 24k Mega Max container ship with a container carrying capacity of 23,756 TEU. It is longer than 4 football fields together and bigger than The Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower. With dimensions of 399.9 metres long and 61.5 metres wide, its a titan among container ships at sea, and an engineering marvel roaming across oceans.

MSC Gulsun is owned by Mediterranean Shipping Company and operating under Panama Flag. She was built by Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and launched in July’2019. MSC Gulsun is powered by MAN B&W new generation G-type engine with an ultra-long stroke. This optimized engine design ensures efficient propulsion, reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

Read this in-depth post about MSC Gulsun with video here.

2. OOCL Hong Kong

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OOCL Hong-Kong is the first ship to surpass 21,000 TEU mark. Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) is the owner of this Ocean giant. Built at the Samsung Heavy Industries, Geoje shipyard, She has a whooping carrying capacity of 21,413 TEU. OOCL Hong Kong was christened and delivered in May 2017. She is the lead ship of G-class series, of which five of its sister ships were built within the same year at the same shipyard.

OOCL Hong-Kong is powered by an inline two-stroke, 11-cylinder MAN Diesel & Turbo (MDT) G-type 11G95ME-C9 engine, capable for a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). Refer this Wiki page for in-depth ship particulars about OOCL Hong-Kong.

3. COSCO Shipping Universe

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With a little less carrying capacity: 21,237 TEU than the former, this giant holds the 2nd position in this list. She is whole 400 metres long and 58.6 metres wide. Originally built by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and later transferred to China Ocean Shipping Company Limited (COSCO) in 2018.

COSCO Shipping Universe is fitted with ABB Turbochargers to achieve optimum performance and enhanced fuel efficiency. Also, She can hit a max speed of 22 Knots.

As prime Flagship Vessels for China Ocean Shipping Company Limited, COSCO Shipping Universe and its Sister ships are serving in the route from the Far East to Northwest Europe. Also plays a crucial role in the implementation of China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

4. CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery

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Named to tribute famous French writer and aviator Antoine De Saint Exupery, it is the biggest containership flying the French flag. Built by the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction – Philippines, it is a vessel with exceptional dimensions:

  • 400-meter long and 59-meter wide;
  • 20,954 TEUs capacity;
  • dead-weight of 2,02,684 MT.

It is a technologically advanced as well as an eco-friendly vessel, equipped with a new generation engine and a Becker-twisted fin, ensuring significant reductions in fuel consumption (-25%) and CO2 emissions (-4%). It also has an inbuilt Ballast Water treatment plant to ensure protection for marine biodiversity.

CMA CGM Antoine De Saint Exupery entered into service on Feb 2018 in the FAL (French Asia Line)-1 service, the longest sea route in the world which connects Asia to Northern Europe.

5. Madrid Maersk

Image Credits: Wikimedia

Madrid Maersk was the second-largest container ship to surpass the 20,000 TEU mark next to MOL Triumph. It is the biggest Maersk ship till to date. It is the first of eleven second-generation Maersk Triple E-class container ships. Built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in Okpo Shipyard, South Korea with a container carrying capacity of 20,568 TEU.

The second-generation Triple E-class container ships are technologically advanced ships equipped with latest marine engineering developments and complying with all the IMO standards for safety and environment. Take a quick look around Madrid Maersk accommodation facilities in this video below.

Video Credits: Maersk (YOUTUBE)

Madrid Maersk has an overall length of 399.00 m, the width of 58.60 m and a maximum draft of 16.50 m. Although the official capacity of the ship was initially set to 19,630 TEU, constructors successfully modified the depth and width of the vessel to accommodate 24 bays and 23 rows of containers across its length. This results in the breaking of the 20,000 TEU milestone.

6. Ever Golden

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With a length of 400 m and a breadth of 59 m, this giant ship has a high DWT of 218,000 MT. Ever Golden was the first of eleven 20,388 TEUs built by the Imabari Shipbuilding, Saijo shipyard for Taiwan Shipping giant Evergreen. The design of Ever Golden incorporates optimised hull structure to maximise cargo-carrying capacity and equipped with eco-friendly new generation machinery. It can achieve a commercial speed up to 21 Knots.

7. MOL Truth

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MOL Truth is the flagship vessel of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines with a container carrying capacity of 20,182 TEU. Built by Imabari Shipbuilding in their new dock in Marugame Shipyard. MOL Truth has an overall length of 400.00 metres, a breadth of 58.50 metres and depth of 16.00 metres.

This container ship is built with reliable and advanced engineering to ensure lower CO2 emission and high fuel efficiency. Some of the other advanced technologies incorporated are low-friction hull paint and high-efficiency propeller.

MOL Truth can operate with a service speed of 17.3 knots while capable of speeding more than 21.0 knots at calm sea conditions. She is serving in the Alliance Asia and Europe route (FE2) under the flag of Panama.

8. MOL Triumph

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MOL Triumph is the World’s First Ship to surpass 20,000 TEU mark. It was built by Samsung Heavy Industries in Geoje, South Korea, for the Japanese shipping operator Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.

It is powered by the MAN B&W G95ME Main engine, which provides enough power to propel with a service speed of 22.0 knots. The maximum cargo-carrying capacity of MOL Triumph is 20,170 TEU. The ship also equipped with various advanced technologies like other ships on this list. She is also serving in the FE2 route under the flag of Panama.

9. COSCO Shipping Taurus

Image Credits: Wikimedia

Built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding (SWS) with a container carrying capacity of 20,119 TEU for China Ocean Shipping Company Limited (COSCO). She is 399.8 metres long and 58.7 metres wide. COSCO Shipping Taurus is the first of five sister ships and they are named after the famous star constellations i.e Taurus, Gemini, Virgo, Libra and Sagittarius.

10. Barzan

Image Credits: Wikimedia

Barzan is DNV GL class ship built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Mopko, South Korea. Unlike other ships of this list which are owned or operated by Far East companies, Barzan is owned by United Arab Shipping Company (UASC). Having a carrying capacity of 19,870 TEU, She is operating on the UASC service route of “AEC-1 Asia – Europe container service”.

Barzan is the first ship ever to have “Gas Ready” class notation and has far lower CO2 emission index than Maersk EEE class ships. Her “Energy Efficiency Design Index” is quoted as almost 50% less than the IMO limit set for 2025 by its builders. Thus makes it as the most eco-friendly ship on this list.

Final Thoughts

Hold on! The race is not over yet. In fact, this competition for the title of World’s Largest Container Ship will never end. The new era of Mega-max containership has already begun. CMA CGM and MSC have placed their orders for MGX-24 next-generation container ships and marked for delivery in the first and second quarters of 2020.

What is the biggest ship ever built in the world?

The Knock Nevis was the largest moving man-made object on the planet. She spanned 458.45 m and had a whooping gross tonnage of 260,941 GT. Knock Nevis was originally built in 1979 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Japan and christined as Seawise Giant. In 1988 the ship was bombed in the Iran-Iraq war at the Strait of Hormuz and later repaired under the name Happy Giant.

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