An Appreciation of Merchant Fleets

Top ten nations in value of their shipping from

Top ten nations in value of their shipping from

Marine Link brings us the graphic above. It does not come with explanation, but I presume this is “owned” rather than “flagged.” Otherwise I don’t think the US would be #4.

There are a couple of take-aways here:

  1. The overall tonnage has grown immensely, and
  2. The individual ships are far larger than they used to be.

For comparison the size of Japan’s not inconsiderable merchant marine in 1941, at the beginning of WWII was about 6 million tons. The fleets of Japan and China (#2 and #3 in value) are about 25 times larger.

During World War II the average merchant ship was roughly 5,000 tons. 10,000 tons was a big ship. The average Japanese ship is about 35,000 tons and the average Chinese ship is about 32,000. That is the new medium size. The US average is only a little over 23,000 tons. The new large size is larger than a USN nuclear powered carrier.

Something that does not show is that the crews are now much smaller.

Lets talk about the implications.

1 thought on “An Appreciation of Merchant Fleets

  1. Hi Chuck,

    Great to see you using our graph! Yes it does refer to the vessels which are owned rather than flagged. Interestingly the Flag State which flags the largest number of vessels under it is actually Panama, flagging 6,296 vessels (taking into account bulkers, tankers, containers, gas ships, mobile offshore drilling units and offshore support vessels). The USA ranks 13th, flagging 901 vessels.

    Get in touch if you’re interested in any other data, always happy to help!

    Kind regards,

    Claudia Norrgren
    Associate Director

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