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China has overtaken Greece as fleet tonnage leader

Posted on August 18, 2023

China has ended Greece’s run as the largest commercial fleet in terms of tonnage, according to the World Fleet Register.

Greece has historically been at the centre of European commercial shipping and Greek owners currently boast 294 million gross tonnage (gt). Greece overtook Japan as the largest fleet by tonnage in 2013 and held the crown until the latest register was released.

The World Fleet Register’s latest updates said China’s fleet now has a capacity of 294.2 million gt.

Despite the close margin on capacities, Clarksons Research, the company behind the register, said the latest estimates value China’s fleet at $180bn, compared to Greece’s $163bn.

China’s fleet has been growing and, with state-owned COSCO and China Merchants, it has two of the largest ship ownership portfolios in the global market. China also leads the global fleet on bulkers and containers, with its ships forming 24% and 16% of each respective market.

Shipyards and financing providers are both growing areas of China’s economy and have become leaders across the market.

Following China and Greece, the next largest fleets are Japan (181m gt), South Korea (66m gt) and the US (66m gt).


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