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Top 10 Shipowning Nations


VesselsValue unveils this year’s top 10 shipowning nations, reviewing the total asset values for vessels by beneficial owner country. From Japan’s resolute leadership in the top position with a US$206.3 billion fleet to the emergence of Hong Kong at US$44.7 billion, asset values and ownership strategies have changed considerably over the last 12 months.


Japan continues to lead, taking number one spot owning the highest valued fleet and, holding a total of approximately US$206.3 billion in assets. This is an increase of c. 5% since the last report in November 2022.

Significant investment has taken place in the Tanker sector with almost 100 vessels added to the fleet, increasing the total value by 15.5%. In addition, values for this sector have continued to gain strength over almost all sub sectors and age categories over the last year. For example, 10 YO Suezmaxes of 160,000 DWT have increased by c. 19.8% year on year from US$53.43 mil to US$64.01 mil.

Out of the top ship-owning countries, Japan owns the highest value fleets for LNG and LPG vessels by both value at USD 37.8 bn and US$13.4 bn respectively and by volume at 202 LNG vessels and 344LPG. Japan also owns the largest and most valuable fleet for vehicle carriers with 334 vessels and a total value of US$22.9 bn.


Once again, China maintains its top position by vessel ownership, boasting a total of 6,084 vessels and a current fleet value amounting to USD 204 billion. China owns the largest Bulker fleet, both in terms of vessels and values. As a result of improved market fundamentals, earnings for Bulkers have been firm, particularly for the Capesizes. This has had a positive impact on values which have increased by c.30.36% year-on-year for newly built 0YO vessels of 180,000 DWT which have increased from US$54.75 mil to US$71.37 mil, the highest levels since March 2010.

China also owns the largest number of Tankers and Containers. The Tanker fleet consists of 1,576 vessels with a total value of US$47.4 bn and the Container fleet has 1,011 vessels, worth an impressive US$42.6 bn. Although the Container fleet has grown since the last time this report was put together, the value of the fleet has decreased by c.23.8%. This comes as the market has slowed significantly from the highs of 2022 and this has had an impact on values that have fallen across many sectors. For example, values for 20YO Handy Container vessels of 1,750 TEU, have fallen by c. 20.1% year-on-year from US$8.55 mil to US$6.76 mil.


Greece has maintained its position as the third-ranked country by both total number of vessels in its fleet and overall value. While China owns more Tankers, the Greek Tanker fleet has the highest value at US$69.5 bn, surpassing China by US$22.1 bn.
Over the last two years, the ongoing Russian sanctions and the resulting surge in tonne-mile demand have continued to bolster earnings for Tankers. In addition, the situation unfolding in the Red Sea is providing further support to earnings, at least in the short term. This has kept Tanker values hovering around the highest levels since 2010 for most sectors, for example, values for 15YO Suezmaxes of 160,000 DWT are currently up c.20.62% from the same period last year, from US$38.37 mil to US$46.28 mil.

Greece is also the owner of the second-largest LNG fleet, with 143 vessels and a fleet value of US$31.1 bn. The values in this sector have consistently remained at elevated levels since 2022, driven by a surge in demand.

United States
The United States has remained in 4th place with a total of US$99.9 bn, up over US$1 bn from our last report.

Of the overall asset value, US$49 billion is represented by cruise ships, solidifying the USA’s position as the world’s largest cruise owner. This is to be expected, given that the two leading cruise companies, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, have their headquarters in the USA. Despite a decrease in the fleet value by a total of US$4.7 billion since the last report, the USA maintains its dominance in the cruise industry.

The USA is also a prominent owner in the RoRo sector, with the largest fleet in terms of value, worth US$2.5 bn. However, with 40 vessels, the USA ranks behind Japan, who own 84 vessels.


Singapore has retained 5th place once again this year, with a fleet value of c. US$85.7 bn and 4th place in terms of the number of vessels owned. Singapore’s Container fleet is the third most valuable globally, worth US$22.1 bn, accounting for almost a quarter of the value of the entire fleet.

Improvements in the LPG sector and stronger values have sparked an increase in sale and purchase activity for Singapore. The current valuation of the LPG fleet stands at US$9.3 billion, marking a substantial 57% increase from the last report. This surge elevates Singapore to the second position in terms of value within the LPG sector.

South Korea

South Korea has retained its place in 6th position this year, and the value of its fleet now stands at US$67 mil, an increase of just over US$1 bn since the last report was completed.
However, the country has moved out of the top 10 in terms of the number of vessels owned, overtaken by newcomers such as UAE, Russia and the Netherlands.

South Korea’s investment in the LNG sector continues to pay off, with values for this sector remaining firm and at high levels.

South Korea has maintained a pivotal role as a global car exporter and there has been considerable investment into the newbuilding sector. HMM placed an order of six LCTC vessels and an option for a further four more vessels to be built at Guangzhou CSSC and scheduled to be delivered between 2026-2028.


Norway has moved up to 7th place, surpassing Germany, with a total fleet value of US$59.3 bn. This has mostly been driven by investment in the Gas sectors and the value of the Norwegian LNG fleet increased by c. 16.7% since the last report from US$12.2 bn to US$14.2 bn. The value of the LPG fleet increased by c.55% from US$2.9 bn to US$4.5 bn, led by an increase in second hand sales and newbuilding orders. Over the course of 2023, Norway added 10 LPG vessels to the global orderbook, including an en bloc deal by Solvgang ASA who ordered five VLGC LPG vessels of 88,000 CBM from Hyundai Heavy Industries and scheduled for delivery in 2026-2027 and ranging in value from USD 107.41 mil to 106.65 mil.

Norway is also the second largest owner of vehicle carriers. The current value of this fleet stands at US$9.2 bn, up from US$8.2 bn, an increase of c.13% from the last report.

United Kingdom

After a brief period in 9th position, the UK has now moved back up to 8th place with a value of US$53.8 bn. The Cruise sector is the most valuable to the UK, accounting for c.25% followed by the Container sector with c.15%, this share has decreased significantly, due to a cooling in market sentiment and therefore values. Due to strong gains in the Tanker sector, the value of the UK Tanker fleet has increased by c.36.5% since our last report, moving up from US$5.2 bn in November 2022 to US$7.2 bn.

There has also been notable investment in the LPG sector and the value of this fleet has moved up from a value of US$2.9 bn in our last report to US$5 bn today, an increase of c.30%.


Germany has experienced a decline in its global rankings, dropping from 7th place to 9th place this year. A significant portion of its fleet has traditionally consisted of Containers, where Germany currently holds the second position in terms of the number of vessels. As earnings continue to undergo a correction following the boom of the early 2020s, values in this sector have also decreased. Consequently, the value of Germany’s fleet has fallen from US$32.1 billion in the last report to US$17.8 billion, representing a decrease of approximately 45%.

This year, Germany’s investment in the LNG fleet has increased in value by US$625 mil, to stand at US$1 bn.

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is a newcomer to the list with a total fleet value of US$44.7 bn. Notably, its significant investment in the Bulker sector has catapulted Hong Kong to the fifth position in the top 10 list. This sector alone contributes over a quarter of the total fleet value, approximately 29%, amounting to US$13 billion. This has been supported by strong Bulker values which have risen across all sub sectors for modern vessels, for example 5YO Capesizes of 180,000 DWT have by 32.14% year on year from US$42.53 mil to US$56.2 mil.

Source: Container News

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