MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has easily topped the charts as the carrier with the largest number of older container vessels.

The Geneva-based carrier is estimated to own a fleet of around one-quarter of the world’s container fleet that is over 20 years old, according to Alphaliner.

That amounts to 212 vessels with a total capacity of 718,000 teu.

The Gianluigi Aponte-owned company ranks way ahead of every other liner operator for the number of vintage vessels it owns, including AP Moller-Maersk, which is the second-largest owner of older tonnage.

Maersk has just 48 vessels in the 20-year and above age group, followed by Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine in third position with 36 units.

According to Alphaliner, around 145 of the 330 secondhand liner vessels that MSC bought since August 2020 were container ships aged 20 years and over.

Several other carriers rank with around 20 ships in the same age bracket. These include Indonesian carriers Tanto Intim Line and Salam Pasifik, Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd and Chinese giant Cosco Shipping.

Topping the list of vintage tonnage providers is New York Stock Exchange-listed Global Ship Lease (GSL) with 25 units in the older age range.

Other Greek shipowners Costamare, Conbulk and Danaos also rank highly with 15 older vessels each.

Alphaliner estimates that there is just under 3m teu of cellular containership capacity — or 1,200 ships — that is 20 years old in the global fleet.

That amounts to around 10.5% by capacity of the world fleet, which currently aggregates 27.6m teu.

Most of the total — some 886 ships — are smaller than 3,000 teu. Alphaliner believes that provides a significant reservoir of ships that could be tapped into for scrapping and would help mitigate the growing overcapacity in the industry.

So far, only 70 container ships with a capacity of 140,000 teu have been scrapped this year.