Building, ownership, registration and scrapping of ships, 2016(Percentage of world total)
Map building, ownership, registration and scrapping of ships, 2016

Note: Top five countries in each segment are shown. Building and scrapping are estimated deliveries and demolitions during 2016. Registration and ownership are end-of-year figures.

Find the data on UNCTADstat

World fleet continuously growing

The world fleet has grown continuously since the beginning of the 1990s. This growth accelerated in 2005. As a result, in 2017, the world fleet reached 1.9 billion dwt, twice the size as it had 12 years ago. Today, bulk carriers account for 43 per cent of the fleet, followed by oil tankers (29 per cent) and container ships (13 per cent).

The top five ship owners at the end of 2016 were Greece, Japan, China, Germany and Singapore; together they had a market share of 50 per cent in dead-weight tons. The top five flag registries were Panama, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Hong Kong SAR, and Singapore. Only three economies, the Republic of Korea, China, and Japan, constructed 92 per cent of world tonnage in 2016. Four economies, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China, together accounted for 95 per cent of ship scrapping in 2016.

Figure 1World fleet by principal vessel type (Millions of dead-weight tons)

Source: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2017a); Clarksons Research.

Fleet ownership by region

Asian economies have the highest market share in shipowning (49 per cent), followed by Europe (41 per cent) and Northern America (7 per cent). Latin America and the Caribbean (1 per cent), Africa (1 per cent) and Oceania (close to 0 per cent) continue to have only small market shares. Looking at ship registration, however, developing economies in Africa and America play a more important role, accounting for 7 and 17 per cent of registrations (in dead-weight tons), respectively.

Figure 2Fleet market size by region of beneficial ownership, 2017* (Millions of dead-weight tons)
*
As of 1 January.
a
Equal to the group ‘Developing economies: America’ on UNCTADstat.
b
Equal to the group ‘Developed economies: America’ on UNCTADstat.

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2017a ); Clarksons Research.

Major flags of registration

Important countries of ship registration are often small developing economies in Africa, America and the Pacific. Panama has maintained its position as the largest flag of registration for more than 20 years. At the beginning of 2017, its registered fleet reached 343 million dwt. Panama is followed by Liberia (219 million dwt), the Marshall Islands (217 million dwt), Hong Kong SAR (173 million dwt) and Singapore (124 million dwt). The Marshall Islands recorded the highest growth rate among the major registries over last 20 years. 1

1
For further analyses on that topic, see UNCTAD (2017c).
Figure 3Vessels capacity in top 5 registries* (Millions of dead-weight tons)
*
Ranked by the values as of 1 January 2017.

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2017a); Clarksons Research.

Summary tables

Table 1

Merchant fleet registration by group of economies

Group of economies

2012

2017

Tonnage

Vessels

Tonnage

Vessels

(Millions
of dwt)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

(Thousands)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

(Millions
of dwt)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

(Thousands)

Share in
world
(Percentage)

World

1 532

100.0

85

100.0

1 862

100.0

93

100.0

Developing economies

1 140

74.4

54

64.1

1 420

76.2

62

66.4

Developing economies: Africa

201

13.1

6

6.6

236

12.7

7

7.0

Developing economies: America

447

29.2

17

19.6

462

24.8

16

17.4

Developing economies: Asia and Oceania

492

32.1

32

37.9

721

38.8

39

41.9

Transition economies

9

0.6

4

4.3

11

0.6

4

4.1

Developed economies

378

24.6

26

30.3

427

22.9

26

27.8

Selected groups

Developing economies excluding China

1 078

70.4

51

59.9

1 341

72.0

58

61.8

Developing economies excluding LDCs

939

61.3

48

56.9

1 186

63.7

55

59.3

LDCs

201

13.1

6

7.2

234

12.5

7

7.0

LLDCs

3

0.2

1

1.1

4

0.2

1

1.2

SIDS (UNCTAD)

226

14.8

7

8.9

320

17.2

8

9.1

HIPCs (IMF)

193

12.6

5

5.8

226

12.1

5

5.9

BRICS

89

5.8

8

9.3

109

5.8

9

10.1

G20

259

16.9

33

38.6

284

15.3

37

39.4

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2017a ); Clarksons Research.

Note: Commercial ships of 100 gt and above; beginning-of-year figures.

Find the data on UNCTADstat
Table 2

Fleet ownership and registration, main economies, 1 January 2017

Vessels
(Number of vessels)

Economy of ownership
(Ranked by number
of ships owned)

Flag of registration
(Ranked by number of ships registered)

Panama

China

Liberia

Marshall Islands

Singapore

China, Hong Kong SAR

Malta

World

China

559

3 256

41

28

51

770

20

5 206

Greece

420

0

842

820

37

21

622

4 199

Japan

2 225

0

156

146

123

68

8

3 901

Germany

29

0

904

176

58

20

177

3 090

Singapore

222

1

136

123

1 486

108

12

2 599

United States

99

0

93

386

9

68

29

2 106

Norway

55

0

41

138

88

33

88

1 842

Indonesia

21

1

6

1

12

3

0

1 840

Russian Federation

28

0

122

4

2

1

32

1 707

Korea, Republic of

534

0

1

222

3

22

5

1 656

World

6 543

3 323

3 251

3 125

2 641

2 320

2 052

50 155

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2017a); Clarksons Research.

Note: Commercial ships of 1000 gt and above.

Tonnage
(Dead-weight tons)

Economy of ownership
(Ranked by number
of ships owned)

Flag of registration
(Ranked by number of ships registered)

Panama

Liberia

Marshall Islands

China, Hong Kong SAR

Singapore

Malta

Bahamas

World

Greece

22 626

61 274

59 593

1 304

3 067

51 809

17 688

308 837

Japan

143 081

13 168

9 359

3 076

6 509

383

8 188

223 856

China

21 623

2 799

1 058

52 748

4 485

1 800

98

165 430

Germany

1 766

48 393

9 266

1 342

2 393

7 299

528

112 028

Singapore

7 530

8 773

8 204

5 598

63 676

119

552

104 414

China, Hong Kong SAR

8 717

4 005

2 069

71 173

3 763

398

61

93 630

Korea, Republic of

41 290

106

20 895

845

54

128

208

80 977

United States

3 962

7 471

29 872

4 299

393

979

4 253

67 103

Norway

2 538

1 787

6 866

5 785

1 981

1 080

4 987

51 824

United Kingdom

4 494

12 623

5 534

637

1 752

4 676

4 926

51 648

World

342 792

219 379

216 594

173 257

123 986

99 184

79 825

1 847 631

Sources: UNCTADstat (UNCTAD, 2017a ); Clarksons Research.

Note: Commercial ships of 1 000 gt and above.

Find the data on UNCTADstat