The Ocean Carrier Merry-go-round

by | Mar 17, 2018

During the past few years, in the often manic world of container shipping, we have witnessed a major transformation of carrier alliances and steamship line businesses, which appear to be showing signs of a return to order during 2018.

We’ve witnessed a major carrier going bust, numerous purchases, national mergers of French, German, Chinese and Japanese lines, a complete overhaul of the global alliances, record high rates, record low rates, and the largest container ship size being increased on an almost quarterly basis.

Due up next is the merger of the Japanese carriers – MOL, NYK and K line. They collectively become Ocean Network Express (ONE) in April and the waters appear to be a little calmer after this as the structure of the top shipping lines settles.

Danish giants Maersk Line remain the world’s largest carrier, whether measuring TEU capacity, number of ships or the share of the market. COSCO and Hapag Lloyd, have both improved their position due to mergers in recent years and ONE should enter the top six ahead of Evergreen after their imminent union.


Further ahead, the top ten carriers collectively have around 150 vessels on order, with Evergreen having 48 of them and COSCO 27. The 150 ships will bring almost 2,000,000 TEU’s to market, although with scrappage of older ships that will not all relate to extra capacity.

We are led to believe that the global economy is back on an upward trajectory. So, with this and the ocean carrier merry-go-round largely behind us, we are hopeful the Asia to Europe rates will continue to flatten throughout the year. This would clearly make mid to longer term rate agreements, and therefore fixed product costs, more manageable.

One line that has remained consistent throughout these turbulent times is us at UniOcean Lines. Customer driven and built for 21st century supply chains, we provide intelligent management of clients products with a technologically advanced approach.

UniOcean Lines currently manage 18 global charter agreements and 19 vessel loops from Asia to the UK. We offer a range of contract and service level agreements with fixed and flexible pricing made simple, through a global selection of the best independent liner agents available worldwide.


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