A decade ago, the main providers of containerships to the charter market were a clutch of German shipowners and managers.

Seaspan Corp was in the fray, but it was outpaced by the "old order", comprising German shipping powerhouses that had expanded on the back of KG (limited partnership) finance.

The top tonnage providers in October 2011 comprised German companies led by Hamburg-based Offen Group with 100 ships of 532,000 teu in total.

Top charter owners

Owner Ships/capacity (teu)

1 Seaspan 131 ships/1.12m teu

70 on order

2 Costamare 80 ships/579,350 teu

3 Shoei Kisen Kaisha 60 ships/563,629 teu

31 on order

4 Zodiac Maritime 51 ships/495,215 teu

14 on order

5 Offen Group 53 ships/430,405 teu

6 Danaos Shipping 65 ships/402,385 teu

7 BoCom 35 ships/386,240 teu

6 on order

8 Global Ship Lease 59 ships/307,333 teu

9 Eastern Pacific 31 ships/268,165 teu

24 on order

10 Fredriksen Group 30 ships/259,651 teu

Source: Clarksons Research, September 2021

Peter Dohle Schiffahrts with 99 ships of 350,000 teu in total was closely tied with Seaspan in second and third place with a fleet of the same size in teu terms.

These were closely followed by a clutch of other German companies including NSB Niederelbe and Norddeutsche Reederei H Schuldt.

Even then, arguably, Seaspan was out in front in terms of the number of ships it had on order.

The proportion of Seaspan's 65-strong fleet on order in October 2011 was equal to 41% of its fleet on the water — which was the highest of any owner at the time.

Fast forward to the present day, Seaspan is setting a similar course with its orderbook amounting to 65% of its existing fleet.

It is by far the largest boxship tonnage provider, even when excluding its 70 newbuildings on order, with 131 ships and total capacity of 1.12m teu on the water, according to Clarksons Research.

Greece’s Costamare and Japan's Shoei Kisen Kaisha today lay claim to second and third place in the tonnage provider rankings, although their fleets are half the size of Seaspan's.

UK-based Zodiac Maritime comes in fourth, having completed a sustained fleet expansion.

Offen Group is now the only German owner in the top five tonnage providers, but with no newbuilding orders it looks set to be surpassed by others in the coming years.

This includes companies such as Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which has 324,000 teu on order, enough to push it over 500,000 teu in terms of total capacity on delivery.

Greek owner Danaos Shipping has risen to sixth position with 65 ships with a total capacity of 402,000 teu, up from ninth a decade ago.

Seaspan's rise, therefore, reflects the end of German domination in the containership charter market with hundreds of vessels sold by German banks in the ongoing boxship boom.