Vessels Value: US fleet fourth most valuable in the world


The following is a news release from Vessels Value:

(LONDON) — The American-owned fleet is worth $47 billion and currently ranks as the fourth most valuable fleet in the world. 

U.S. shipping interests are focused heavily on the offshore industry, tankers and the container industry. A significant portion of this value is generated by the steep prices for U.S.-built units able to work in domestic trade. Foreign-flag vessels cannot move cargoes from one U.S. port to another due to Jones Act restrictions.

The concentration in tanker ownership is not as negative as it is for internationally flagged units. The Jones Act tanker market has rebounded from the high $20,000/day range in 2017 to its current market levels around $50,000/day. 

Offshore units should rebound in value over the next several years as oil price increases are expected. This will lead to more employment opportunities in the U.S. Gulf and off the coast of Mexico. Bulker and container valuations should boost U.S.-based owners as the year progresses.


Greek owners remain the dominant force in global shipping. The current value of their owned fleet stands at almost exactly $100 billion, putting the country at the top of the table. The value is concentrated in the tanker ($36 billion), bulker ($35.7 billion), and LNG ($13.5 billion) vessel types. Hellenic control of these markets stands at about 19 percent of the total worth of the fleets.

The strong commitment of Greek owners to the global shipping markets looks unlikely to change as others, such as Germany, are liquidating assets. The trend in Chinese ownership is rising, as state owned companies are consolidating and placing new orders. This is a reminder that there are always new challengers for the throne of peak market value. Greek owners, with their sharp focus on commercial results, should continue to lead the pack for the foreseeable future.


Japanese companies are the second largest group of shipowners by value but remain in the same league as Greece. The country’s interests in the dry bulk and LNG segments are on par with the leader, but it does not have as much exposure to the tanker markets. Japanese refinery capacity has been falling since the late 2000s, a trend that will continue as the country faces stiff competition from other Asian refiners. Japanese tanker owners continue to trade in the global markets, but growth will not come from domestic demand.

Japan is the top owner of LNG vessels by value, which is a strong strategic fit for its energy needs. Nuclear power remains under high scrutiny, and additional plants may shutter in the years ahead. This leaves natural gas and coal as the top alternatives for power generation. The high ownership of dry bulk and LNG vessels make the trading fleet well suited to match domestic consumption.


China is nipping at the heels of the two countries that place above it in terms of total owned value. The stratospheric rise of the country’s economy since 2000 has had impacts on all shipping and commodity markets. The growth trajectory has slowed recently but remains a positive force for ton mile demand across all vessel types.

The Chinese share of global ownership should continue to move upwards over the next decade across all markets. The large amount of crude oil that is imported into the country is moving on an increasingly national fleet. This trend, combined with rising product exports should boost the number of tankers that come under owners' umbrellas.

By Professional Mariner Staff