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:
- The overall tonnage has grown immensely, and
- 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.