Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
Photo by Sascha Hormel on

It’s near impossible to predict what 2020 will bring for marine shipping in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s worth noting that even before the outbreak, significant regulatory and technological shifts had started an industry-wide sea-change.

As of 1 January 2020, new regulations took effect requiring all International Maritime Organization (IMO) member states to use cleaner fuel. Under the new mandate, the maximum sulphur content of fuel consumed at sea is limited to 0.50 per cent, although exceptions are allowed in instances where an exhaust gas cleaning system is used. This is expected to drive down the cost of higher sulfur fuels while raising the cost of cleaner fuels.

Technology and big data are playing an ever more significant role in the day-to-day operations of the world’s largest shipping lines. An estimated 10 per cent of all new ship builds are smart ships. A ship is defined as such when the latest technology is used to maximise performance in operational efficiency, ship management, regulatory compliance, decision-making and environmental responsibility.

How these factors will transform the balance of power remains to be seen; change and uncertainty are harbingers of collapse for some while simultaneously catalysing expansion for others. Next year’s list might look completely different, but as it stands, here are the ten largest marine shipping companies in terms of annual revenue in Spring 2020.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Gazouya-japan, CC BY-SA 4.0,

10. Pacific International Line

Country of Origin: Singapore

Revenue: 4.037 billion

Number of Employees: 9,000

Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Singapore, Pacific International Line (PIL) is a privately owned shipping operation with a diverse operating portfolio, including shipping, container manufacturing and logistics-related services, although its main business line lies in container shipping. PIL has a fleet of more than 130 modern vessels that serve approximately 500 locations around the world.

The company’s main routes serve the Indian sub-continent, the Red Sea/Gulf, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. Through feeder services, PIL has a presence in South East Asia, the Bay of Bengal, the East Coast of India, the East and West African Coast, and the Pacific Islands.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By GeorgHH – Self-photographed, Public Domain,

9. Hyundai Merchant Marine

Country of Origin: South Korea

Revenue: 4.6 billion (FY 2017)

Number of Employees: 1,591

Since 1976, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) has provided container shipping services primarily between the Far East and the Middle East. It boasts a fleet of more than 100 ships, including container ships, bulk carriers, trampers, heavy lifts and special product carriers. HMM’s advanced IT network has helped it earn a reputation as a world-class integrated logistics company.

Today, HMM’s global network consists of four overseas chief offices, three regional headquarters, 23 subsidiaries supported by three head offices, 58 branch offices, eight overseas offices and three container terminals.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By NAC – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

8. Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Revenue: 4.7 billion

Number of Employees: 5,331

Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Keelung, Taiwan, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation provides a variety of marine transportation services to the global community. The company currently runs a fleet of 102 vessels and serves markets in Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia.

Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation’s main business lines include liner, bulk and logistics services through their affiliate, YES Logistics Corporation. YES has offices throughout China, as well as in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Denmark.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Jan Ramroth from Mainz, Deutschland – immergrün, CC BY 2.0,

7. Evergreen Marine Corp

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Revenue: 5.58 billion

Number of Employees: 3,389 (2007)

Evergreen Marine Corp started out with a single second-hand ship in 1968 and is now the seventh-largest shipping line in the world, with a fleet of more than 200 ships. Its commercial shipping operations cover five main routes: East Asia to North America/Central America, East Asia to Northern Europe/the Mediterranean, Europe to North America (transatlantic), East Asia to the Southern Hemisphere (intercontinental) and Intra-Asia.

Evergreen has three main transshipment hubs located in Taichung Container Terminal and Kaohsiung Container Terminal, both in Taiwan, and Colon Container Terminal, Panama. Since 2007, the company has been operating as an amalgamation of three shipping lines: Uniglory Marine Corp. (Taiwan), Evergreen UK Ltd. (UK) and Italia Marittima S.p.A. (Italy).

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Arizonaman1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

6. Ocean Network Express

Country of Origin: Singapore

Revenue: 12.4 billion

Number of Employees: 14,000

Launched in 2017, Ocean Network Express (ONE) is the newest company on this list. Despite its nascency, the company does have a healthy track record, as it was created when Japan’s ‘K’ Line, MOL and NYK merged their container shipping lines. Today, ONE has a fleet of 224 vessels, including 31 super-large ships that serve more than 120 countries around the world.

ONE has a truly international presence, primarily serving Asia, Latin America and Africa, with regional headquarters in Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, the US and Brazil. The company has expanded its reach to provide service to North America, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Hummelhummel, CC BY-SA 3.0,

5. Hapag-Lloyd

Country of Origin: Germany/Chile

Revenue: 14.1 billion

Number of Employees: 13,000

Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, Hapag-Lloyd is a multinational conglomerate that operates the world’s fifth-largest shipping line. It was formed following the merger of Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) and Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL); in 2014, it further merged with South American-based Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores (CSAV).

Hapag-Lloyd operates a fleet of 239 vessels, covering primarily Transatlantic, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Intra-American shipping routes. Its customers can be found in 392 locations in 129 countries, with Europe and Asia being the dominant regions. The company runs a total of 121 liner services to 600 ports around the world.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Peter Morgan from Beijing, China – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,


Country of Origin: China

Unit Sales: 17.05 billion

Number of Employees: 26,852

Headquartered in Beijing, China, the China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO) is a state-owned international shipping operation that took its current form in 2016 when it merged with the China Shipping Group and acquired Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) two years later.

COSCO runs a vast fleet of more than 1,300 vessels – the biggest in the world in terms of overall capacity. Through more than 300 subsidiaries, it offers services in freight forwarding, shipbuilding, ship repair, terminal operation, container manufacturing, trade, financing, real estate and information technology. COSCO has interests in more than 60 terminals around the world.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Didier Demelin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

3. Mediterranean Shipping Company

Country of Origin: Italy

Revenue: 28.19 billion

Number of Employees: 70,000

Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is a world leader in container shipping, operating a fleet of 520 vessels which call on 500 ports on 200 trade routes around the world.

MSC has a network of 493 offices and does business in 155 countries. Recently, it has put a focus on using the latest technology to employ e-business solutions for digitalised cargo bookings and smart containers.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Philippe Alès – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

2. CMA CGM Group

Country of Origin: France

Revenue: 30.3 billion

Number of Employees: 110,000

With roots that trace back to 1851, the CMA CGM Group is the oldest company on this list. It took its current form in 1996 following the merger of Compagnie Maritime d’Affrètement (CMA) and Compagnie Générale Maritime (CGM), and is headquartered in Marseille, France.

Today, the CMA CGM Group operates a fleet of 502 vessels in more than 200 shipping lines serving 420 ports around the world, with approximately 755 offices and 750 warehouses in 160 different countries. Its fleet boasts some of the largest-capacity transport ships in the world, including the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the CMA CGM Kerguelen, the CMA CGM Bougainville and the CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exuper.

Top Ten Marine Shipping Companies
By Philippe Alès – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

1. A.P. Moller–Maersk Group

Country of Origin: Denmark

2018 Revenue: 38.89 billion

Number of Employees: 76,000

Maersk is the largest and perhaps best-known marine shipping company in the world. Founded more than 115 years ago and headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, the company has grown into an international business conglomerate with a variety of interests in the sector.

Maersk operates a fleet of more than 700 vessels that call on 343 ports around the world. Its business lines include container shipping and terminals, logistics and freight forwarding, ferry and tanker transport, semi-submersible drilling rigs and FPSOs, oil and gas exploration and production, shipyards and store retail. This makes Maersk one of the most diverse companies on this list.