MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has become the first carrier to reach a fleet capacity of more than 5m-teu slots.

The milestone comes 16 months after it overtook AP Moller-Maersk to become the world’s largest container line, according to Alphaliner.

MSC’s fleet of owned and chartered vessels stood at 753 ships of 4.95m teu on 16 May, the analyst said.

The pending deliveries of the 24,346-teu MSC Michel Cappellini from Yangzijiang Shipbuilding and the 24,116-teu MSC Gemma from Shanghai Jiangnan Changxing Shipbuilding will push it over the 5m-teu mark this month.

Newbuilding activity alone could see its fleet reach 6m teu by the middle of 2024, according to Alphaliner.

Whether the Geneva-based company reaches that total will depend on other factors such as sale-and-purchase and chartering activities.

Danaos fixtures

However, there are no signs that it is easing up.

MSC is believed to be behind the forward charters of four 8,000-teu newbuildings scheduled for delivery in mid-2024.

The fixtures are linked to Greek tonnage provider Danaos Corp, which has four vessels under construction at South Korea’s DH Shipbuilding, previously known as Daehan Shipbuilding.

The methanol-ready vessels have secured three-year charters through to the middle of 2027 at rates of $42,000 per day, Danaos revealed in an investor presentation this week.

The Greek owner did not name the charterer, but said it had also secured three-year charters for two 7,165-teu vessels from Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co.

The smaller newbuildings, which are methanol-ready, have secured a minimum three-year period at $36,000 per day with delivery in the second half of 2024.

MSC has also added the 6,672-teu Maersk Kiel (built 1998) to its fleet of owned vessels.

Deliveries this year of vessels such as the 24,346-teu MSC Irina (built 2023) have lifted the carrier’s fleet to new highs. Photo: Yangzijiang Shipbuilding

The ship was reported sold in March and has begun operating as the MSC Giovanna VII. Three sister ships in the Maersk fleet are also deemed potential sales candidates.

MSC has doubled its fleet in the past eight years, leaving it well prepared to operate as a stand-alone carrier.

That growth has left it way ahead of the pack in terms of capacity, according to Alphaliner.

Second-placed Maersk operates with 4.13m teu, while the fifth-largest container carrier is Hapag-Lloyd with a fleet capacity of 1.8m teu.