VesselsValue’s head cargo analyst, Olivia Watkins, has compiled a list of the world’s top ship owning nations ranked by total fleet value.

China has moved up from second in January to firs place this time, owning a total of $191 billion in assets.

China owns the largest number of containerships and, consequently, the recent surge in rates and values has moved them up the ranks to top spot in terms of fleet value. The increase in rates has also prompted an ordering spree across the container sector, as owners’ confidence in the market exploded. Of the 516 containerships have been ordered globally since January 2021, 46% of  orders were placed by Chinese companies including OOCL, SITC and COSCO Shipping.

We have seen a significant increase in bulker rates since the beginning of the year with the Capesize 54-TCA increasing from $16,656/day on January 1 to a peak of $86,953/day on October 7, an increase of 420%. This has nearly doubled the total value of China’s bulker fleet over the past 10 months from $28 billion to $53 billion.

Japan has fallen from first to second place, owning a total of $187 billion in assets. This is an increase of over $70 billion since January 2021, highlighting the booming bulker, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and vehicle carrier markets. Out of the top 10 nations, Japan owns the highest value LPG fleet at $7.4 billion. Earnings and sales have caused an increase in the total fleet value by $1.6 billion since January.

The total value of vehicle carriers under Japanese ownership amounts to a staggering $13.4 billion, an increase of $6.1 billion compared to earlier in the year. This increase has been caused by the leading Japanese companies MOL, NYK Line and K Line ordering 26 newbuilds since the beginning of the year. Japanese shipyards have raised tariffs to $100 million for a dual fuel liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered 7,000 CEU vehicle carrier, up $10 million compared to last year.

Greece has bumped its way up to third place in the rankings since January this year. The total value increased from $93.2 billion at the beginning of the year to $145 billion. Greece is the largest tanker owner, and although earnings have been lingering at record lows, we have seen increases to spot rates which have brought up values for the entire fleet. Newbuilding values, and hence resale values, have increased between 20-30% across VLCCs, Suezmaxes and Aframaxes since the beginning of the year.

Greece is also the owner of the most valuable LNG carrier fleet. With current spot rates soaring, the value of the nation’s fleet has increased by $2 billion since the beginning of the year.

The value of Greece’s bulker fleet has almost doubled from $28 billion to $53 billion, as a result of the high rates. The Greeks remain active in the S&P market accounting for about a quarter of the bulkers bought so far this year.

The U.S. has fallen to fourth place since January this year with a total of $96 billion in assets.

Some $56 billion of this is comprised of cruise ships, which come as no surprise as the largest cruise companies Carnival and Royal Caribbean are both based in the U.S. Despite the onslaught the industry has experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. still holds its position as the largest global cruise owner despite the fleet value decreasing by a total of $7 billion since the beginning of the year.

The U.S. are also prominent owners in the RoRo sector, owning a total of $2.1 billion, where the market has seen an increase in value of $1.2 billion from January.

Singapore has remained at fifth place since January this year with similar gains in the bulker and container sector as other nations. Its investments in the container sector followed the global surge, increasing its fleet value from $10 billion to $25 billion.

Since the beginning of the year, companies like OM Maritime and X-Press Feeders have capitalized on the roaring market and placed orders in smaller tonnages such as 2,700 and 1,800 TEU containerships.

In secondhand tonnage, one particular benchmark sale that took place was the RDO Concert (6,969 TEU, Dec 2009, Hyundai Heavy Industries) which was sold to OM Maritime from D Oltmann Reederei for $110 million, the highest price paid for a 2009 built post-Panamax containership since 2007.

Germany has remained in sixth place owning a total of $76.8 billion. A large part of the fleet has always been comprised of containerships and, consequently, the huge container shipping boom has led to the German fleet’s value rising by $34 billion since the beginning of the year.

German investments in the small dry sector are also being rewarded. The total fleet value has increased by $1 billion since January as rates have increased through the year.

South Korea
South Korea moved up to seventh place since January this year, overtaking the U.K. The total fleet value now stands at $58 billion, an increase of $24 billion since the beginning of the year.

South Korea’s investments in the LNG and LPG sectors are finally paying off with values doubling since the beginning of the year. With LNG prices peaking in the second half of 2021, the fleet values have doubled for South Korea’s gas sector. Hyundai LNG, Pan Ocean and H Line have ordered 15 Large LNG carriers this year, with the most recent order at $200 million, an increase of $20 million on newbuild values.

South Korea still maintains a dominant position as a global seaborne car exporter. Leading shipowners/operators are Glovis, who have expanded the pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) fleet in recent years, and Eukor, with 20% of shares owned by Hyundai Glovis and Kia Motors. The high volume of car manufacturing and seaborne exports makes South Korea the third largest owner of vehicle carriers.

The U.K. fell to eighth place owning a total of $54 billion in assets. Its total fleet value has increased by $15 billion since the beginning of the year with most gains seen in the booming bulker and container sectors.

The containership market has been under immense pressure over the last year; COVID-19 related pent up demand pushing consumer spending, bad weather in China and COVID-19 related terminal lockdowns contributing to high port congestion. However, we are now seeing global supply chain issues and port congestions threatening Christmas deliveries in parts of the U.K. Felixstowe, one of the U.K.’s major container ports, report congestion building as a severe shortage of truck drivers means containers are piling up in port storage yards. This is making it increasingly difficult to unload containers and reload empty boxesto be sent back to Asia. This could cause rates to increase even more across the sector and increase values further.

Taiwan, China
Taiwan, China has made a new appearance in the top 10 rankings as investments in bulkers and containers come to fruition. The total fleet value is $47 billion, with $32 billion from its containership fleet alone. Companies like TS Lines, Wan Hai Lines and Evergreen have placed a total of 107 orders so far this year, one-fifth of the total orders placed.

Norway has fallen one more place to 10th since January this year, driven mostly by the decrease in value of the offshore fleet. A lot of Norway’s investments are in the mobile offshore drilling (MODU) sector, so as oil majors aggressively cut capex, MODU contracts are terminated, suspended or delayed. Offshore values across all ages and types were affected. Major MODU owners such as Borr Drilling have seen fleets lose half a billion in value.

Note: VesselsValue data as of November 2021

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