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November 27, 2015

Containerships, Then and Now

On 23 April 1966, the containership Sea-Land’s Fairland sailed from Port Elizabeth in the USA to Rotterdam in the Netherlands carrying 236 containers. This was the first international voyage of a container ship. The subsequent proliferation of “containerization” drastically simplified intermodal freight transportation and ultimately led to a revolution in cargo transportation and international trade over the next 50 years.

Today, approximately 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide is transported by container ship. Container shipping connects countries, markets, and businesses, allowing them to buy and sell goods on a scale not previously possible.

DID YOU KNOW? The total capacity of Danaos’ fleet of containerships is 334,239 TEU. It’s largest vessels can carry up to 13,100 20-foot containers. Learn more…

Chartering & Liner Companies

Most of the world's carrying capacity in container ships is owned or chartered by liner companies, the customers Danaos serves. Liner companies generally operate container ships on specific routes (for example the Far East to Europe route) and at defined intervals. It is a common practice for the large container lines to supplement their own ships with chartered-in ships.

Danaos is a containership owner that charters its containerships to liner companies and other operators. The company ranks among the largest independent container ship charterers in the world.

Charter Types

Containerships are typically chartered according to three types of charter agreements: the voyage charter, the bareboat charter, and the time charter. In a voyage charter, the charterer rents the vessel from the loading port to the discharge port. In a bareboat charter, the charterer acts as the ship's operator and manager, taking on responsibilities such as providing the crew and maintaining the vessel. In a time charter, the vessel is hired for a set period of time, to perform voyages as the charterer directs. The vessels in Danaos’ fleet are typically contracted by liner companies on long-term time charters, which insulates the company from short-term fluctuations in charter rates and provides predictable revenue.


Industry Terms & Definitions

► What is a ‘TEU’?

The capacity of a containership is measured in 20-foot equivalent units (TEU). Typical loads are a mix of 20-foot and 40-foot (2-TEU) ISO-standard containers, with the latter predominant.

► General Ship Categories & Capacities

There are three general categories of containerships that correspond to their respective capacities: Feeders, Panamaxes, and Post Panamaxes. Feeders have capacity of up to 3,000 TEU and typically serve small container ports; Panamaxes have capacity between 3,000 and 4,250 TEU, and Post Panamaxes have capacity above 4,250.

► What is a Cellular Containership?

A vessel specifically designed to carry containers, with cell-guides under deck and necessary fittings and equipment on deck.

► What is a Charter?

The hire of a ship for a specified period of time or a particular operation to carry a cargo for a fixed fee from a loading port to a discharging port. The contract for a charter is commonly called a charterparty.

► What is a Liner Company?

A company that operated ocean carriers for many different cargoes on the same voyage on regular schedules

► What is a Dead weight Tonne(dwt)?

A unit of a vessel's capacity for cargo, fuel oil, stores and crew, measured in tons. A vessel's dwt or total deadweight is the total weight, expressed in long tons (2,240 lbs), the vessel can carry when loaded to a particular load line.

Want to learn more relevant terms?

View our full glossary here