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  • Allen Czermak

How Many Containers Can A Ship Hold?

Sometimes we get a glimpse of shipping containers on a truck’s chassis while other times we see them sailing atop a ship as it travels in a waterway. In addition to hauling cargo across the globe, these containers are big enough to be used for a living space or even a luxurious pool. Freight containers come in a twenty-foot equivalent unit or better known as TEU and a forty-foot equivalent unit or better known as FEU. The question is how many containers can a cargo ship hold?


This depends on the size of the ship and its freight capacity that is measured in TEU. Large ships can be very big, but not have such a large freight capacity while medium-size ships might not be as big but still have a greater freight capacity. We will review ten of the biggest cargo ships around the world to give you an idea of how many freight containers a ship can hold.


HMM Algeciras

Length: 1,312 Feet

Beam: 200 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 228,283

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 200,000 t

Carrying Capacity: 23,964 TEU

In 2020, the HMM Algeciras was considered the largest container ship with a carrying capacity of 23,964 TEU. It was Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. Ltd that built the ship after South Korean president, Moon Jae In pledged to rebuild the South Korean shipping industry. The shipping vessel is named after the Southern Spanish Port City Algeciras, on the Strait of Gibraltar. The HMM Algeciras is the first ship which is part of a five-year plan aimed at regaining South Korea’s competitiveness in the shipping industry. The ship is also host to state-of-the-art technologies that help navigate it across international waters. It’s truly one of a kind.


MSC Gulsun

Length: 1,312 Feet

Beam: 202 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 232,618

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 228,149 t

Carrying Capacity: 23,756 TEU

The Gulsun is a container ship built in 2019 for the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) by Samsung Heavy Industries in the Geoje shipyard in South Korea. The name “Gulsun”, which means in Turkish “keep smiling”, possibly symbolizing that even when weathering the storm of life, keep smiling. This ship is 203 feet wide and 1312 feet long. Its carrying capacity is a whopping 23,756 TEU loaded in 24 rows. Just to put things into perspective of how large this ship’s carrying capacity is, it would take 1358 Boeing 747 planes to transport all these containers. While running its engines to haul all this cargo, the Gulsun manages to leave one of the lowest carbon footprints of a ship of its type.


OOCL Hong Kong

Length: 1,312 Feet

Beam: 193 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 210,890

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 191,977 t

Carrying Capacity: 21,413 TEU

The OOCL Hong Kong is one of six container ships and was the largest at its time of delivery back in 2017. Each of the set of six ships has a very similar carrying capacity and other specifications. For the OOCL Hong Kong, it has a carrying capacity of 21,413 that is just a little more than that of the COSCO Shipping Universe below. In a 2017 video documentary on its sister ship Atlanta, it was claimed that this series ship can carry an estimate of 200,000 containers per year which is a cargo worth nearly $4.5 billion dollars.


COSCO Shipping Universe

Length: 1,312.3 Feet

Beam: 192 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 215,553

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 199,000 t

Carrying Capacity: 21,273 TEU

The COSCO Shipping Universe is run by the COSCO SHIPPING Holdings Company that is run by the People's Republic of China (PRC). It’s currently flying the flag of Hong Kong and has a carrying capacity of 21,237 TEU. It might be more appealing to sail the Hong Kong flag in international waters than the flag of the PRC but in reality, this ship is run by the Chinese government. The ship was built by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai. The Universe was one of six ships built for COSCO Shipping Lines all having a carrying capacity of 20,000 TEU or greater.


CMA CGM Antoine De Saint Exupéry

Length: 1,312.3 Feet

Beam: 193.6 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 217,673

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 202,684 t

Carrying Capacity: 20,776 TEU

The Antoine De Saint Exupery is the flagship of CMA CGM and proudly flies the French flag atop its starboard. This is by far the largest ship of the CMA CGM ships and is currently the biggest French container ship on the high seas. It has a carrying capacity of 20,776 TEU and was recorded as the third largest container ship in the world back in early 2019. The ship was built by Hanjin Heavy Industries’ yard in the Philippines and set sail in 2018.


MOL Truth (ONE)

Length: 1,309.1 Feet

Beam: 190.3 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 210,691

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 189,766 t

Carrying Capacity: 20,182 TEU

The MOL Truth is the first of a set of six ships built by Japanese Ocean Express Shipping. It sails under the flag of Panama as it frequently sails through the Panama Canal. It shares the same container capacity as the other ships in its series which is 20,182 TEU. Each of the six ships shares similar specifications as the MOL Truth. The ship is a regular visitor to Hong Kong waters and is operated by Ocean Network Express Pte. Ltd located in Singapore. The company's freight containers can be noticed from a far distance by its flashy fuchsia pink color and the word “ONE” written across it.


Ever Golden (EVERGREEN)

Length: 1,312.3 Feet

Beam: 193 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 217,612

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 199,692 t

Carrying Capacity: 20,000 TEU

The Ever Golden is one of Evergreen’s set of seven ships that were launched in 2018. This ship is also referred to as the "Ever Golden Class" and was built in Japan by Imabari Shipbuilding along with the other seven Evergreen in its class. The ship has a set of scrubbers that help reduce gas emissions and run more efficiently. This ship has a carrying capacity of 20,000 TEU similar to its Evergreen sister ships.


Ever Glory (EVERGREEN)

Length: 1,312.3 Feet

Beam: 193 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 219,775

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 198,937 t

Carrying Capacity: 20,000 TEU

The Ever Glory is a container ship owned by Evergreen Marine Corp. and has a carrying capacity of 20,000 TEU. It sails under the flag of Liberia and is one of the major cargo ships that transport containers globally. The Ever Glory is the sister ship to the Ever Given which has been responsible for the recent jam at the Suez Canal that left at least 369 ships waiting in tailback to pass through the 120-mile canal. This is the first of Evergreen Marine Corp. ships to be fitted with exhaust scrubbers. These work to “scrub” harmful sulfur oxides from exhaust gases which makes the ship run more energy efficient. Shipping companies need to be in compliance with many green regulations to operate in global waters.


Madrid Maersk

Length: 1,309.1 Feet

Beam: 192 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 214,286

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 210,019 t

Carrying Capacity: 19,630 TEU

The Madrid Maersk is one of the more famous cargo vessels and sails under the flag of Denmark. It serves under the Danish International Shipping Company and has a carrying capacity of 19,630t. At its time of launch back in 2017 it had been recorded as the largest container ship to sail the seas. Just like other large container ships of its type, the Madrid Maersk needs to be carefully guided into port with a set of four tug boats. This is a second-generation Triple E vessel (carrying capacity of 18,000 TEU or greater) and hosts an impressive specification list detailed above.


MV Barzan (UASC)

Length: 1,312.3 Feet

Beam: 192 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 195,636

Summer DWT (Deadweight): 199,744 t

Carrying Capacity: 18,800 TEU

According to Marine Traffic, the MV Barzan is a cargo ship owned by UASC (United Arab Shipping) company and has a carrying capacity of 18800 TEU. Back in 2015, when the Barzan was launched it was the largest container ship at its time. Since then other ships have been built to contend with its carrying capacity. This ship was the first of six series of 18800 TEU container ships built in South Korea for UASC. The Barzan is currently operated by Hapag-Lloyd which is a German-based shipping container transportation company. It has ten upper low cargo area decks to stack the freight containers neatly which are safely secured with steel beams all around its perimeter. The Barzan is also the first-ever gas-ready ship of its type making it one of the most energy-efficient cargo vessels to sail across the globe. It produces almost half the emissions of other ships in accordance with the limits set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


Final Words


Shipping containers across the globe are getting more expensive with a new crisis spurring up each day. For purchasers, it’s important to secure a reputable logistics company that can transport your container to its final destination without incurring any extra drayage expenses. There are many reliable intermodal trucking companies that will set the logistics in place to get your container to you as fast as possible. Business owners need to be vigilant and know where their containers are in order to keep shipping costs to a minimum.

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