According to UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2023, as of January 2023, the world fleet consisted of 105,493 vessels of 100 gross tons and above.
s informed, in 2022, capacity expanded at an annual rate of 3.2 per cent with overall tonnage hitting 2.27 billion dead weight tons.
The container fleet capacity saw an increase of 3.9 per cent, followed by oil tanker fleet growth (3.4 per cent). Meanwhile, bulk carrier capacity grew at a moderated rate of 2.8 per cent and gas carriers experienced the highest growth, at 5 per cent.
Furthermore, in terms of tonnage delivered in 2022, dry bulk carriers took the lead, followed by oil tankers and container vessels. China, the Republic of Korea and Japan were the top shipbuilding countries, accounting for a significant 93 per cent of total tonnage delivered.
Over the years, global fleet capacity expansion has seen its ups and downs, reflecting business cycles and trends in shipping, shipbuilding and financing. Between 2005 and 2010, the average annual growth of global dead weight tonns was robust, at 7.1 per cent. However, since the 2007–2008 financial crisis, growth has slowed to an average of 4.9 per cent between 2011 and 2023 due, among other factors, to consolidation in shipbuilding and downsizing of the ship financing market.
Since the pandemic, fleet growth has further slowed, averaging 3.1 per cent per year. The global fleet is also ageing. At the start of 2023, commercial ships had an average age of 22.2 years, slightly higher than the previous year. Compared to a decade ago, the global fleet has aged by an average
of two years, with over half of the fleet now exceeding 15 years of age.