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10 More Facts about Shipping Containers

19.02.2023 - Posted by Updated On 19.02.2023    

Three short years ago we published "10 Facts about Shipping Containers" and the page has been visited by a lot of our customers and readers. Since that time, a few things have changed in the shipping world and it seems that now is a good time to update the page and provide 10 more facts about shipping containers.

1. Shanghai remains the busiest container port in the world, and since 2011 the throughput of the port has increased from 29,069,000 containers a year to 33,600,000 annually. Walking those numbers back, that's roughly 2.8 million monthly, 93,333 daily, or 3,888 hourly! To put things into perspective, the busiest container port in the United States is still Los Angeles which handles 8,078,000 containers annually.

2. In 2011 the largest container vessel in the world was the Emma Maersk, registering 397.7 feet. Today, Emma has fallen to 7th place behind six vessels 398 feet long. While the Emma isn't the largest, all of the vessels are owned by Maersk.

3. The Maersk EEE class of vessels are the largest in the world, and also part of a new generation of highly efficient vessels. The produce 20% less emissions, and can carry 18,270 20' shipping containers. That's enough containers to load 30 trains, each one mile long, and 863 million cans of baked beans.

4. The number of shipping containers lost overboard has increased over the past couple of years. While the numbers vary greatly, it's estimated that between 2008 and 2013 546 containers were lost at sea. In 2014 it's estimated that 733 containers were lost at sea.

5. The design of shipping containers hasn't changed greatly since 1956. Improvements in materials and manufacturing have been made, but little has changed in the core 20' and 40' container design. Companies have experimented with different flooring materials and paint, but not much else.

6. 40' shipping containers are still the most plentiful for use in shipping, but the 40' high cube is quickly gaining ground as more and more shipping lines prefer the additional space in the same footprint.

7. According to Drewery Maritime Research, the global container fleet is 32.9 million TEUs. 89% of these being standard dry containers.


8. Just like the license plate on a car, every shipping container in the world is assigned a unit number. The prefix of the unit number identifies the owner or the management company, and the next digits are unique to the container. These numbers are used to track the shipping containers as they move around the world. alt

9. As more and more shipping containers are retired from use, it's become popular to convert them into modular buildings of all shapes and sizes. Shipping container houses, restaurants, and office buildings can be seen from California to New York.

10. "Ship breaking", scrapping, or salvaging is a big business. It's estimated that each year between 200 and 600 ships are scrapped at the end of their life. 85% of all vessels are scrapped in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. The primary product salvaged from a vessel is the steel. is an online marketplace specializing in buying and selling shipping containers of all types and sizes. We work with some of the largest shipping lines and leasing companies in the world to help them efficiently sell their new, used, and off lease shipping containers. If you are in the market to buy or sell shipping containers feel free to contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.

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