The world merchant fleet statistics 2016 from Equasis and EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency)


( This report provides a picture of the world’s merchant fleet in 2016, derived from data contained in the Equasis database. It examines the structure and characteristics of the fleet and its performance. The statistics are grouped into themes which could be of interest to the industry and regulators.

The themes are as follows:

  1. The Merchant Fleet Population
  2. Classification Societies
  3. P&I clubs
  4. Port State Control
  5. Vetting Programmes and Trade Associations

Ships are grouped by size into four categories:

  1. Small ships 100 GT to 499 GT
  2. Medium ships 500 GT to 24.999 GT
  3. Large ships 25.000 GT to 59.999 GT
  4. Very Large ships ≥ 60.000 GT

Ship size:

The small ships size category reflects the main tonnage threshold for merchant ships to comply with the SOLAS Convention. This category also includes many ships which do not trade internationally and therefore are not covered by the International Conventions or the port State control regimes, but for which some flag States require the same standards.

A significant proportion of these ships are also too small to be covered by classification societies and by the vetting and trading organisations. They have, therefore, been excluded from most of the analyses in order to avoid distortion of the
totals for ships which are generally covered by the International Legislation, port State control, classification societies and other trade organisations. To provide data for the whole merchant fleet, small ships are included in Chapters 2.1 and 2.2, and in the multiple inspection figures in Chapters 5.1 and 5.6. Small ships are also taken into consideration when evaluating the fleet size of a company and the detention rate in Chapter 6.3.

Regulatory and commercial tonnage thresholds are not common to all ship types. As a compromise, categories medium, large and very-large (i.e.: 2, 3 and 4) have been chosen so as to divide the fleet into three approximately equal parts in terms of tonnage. These three together represent the larger worldwide trading merchant ships.

Ship types:

Equasis uses over 100 descriptions of ship type provided by IHS Markit Maritime & Trade. For this report these types have been aggregated into 12 main types as follows:

  1. General Cargo Ships
  2. Specialized Cargo Ships
  3. Container Ships
  4. Ro-Ro Cargo Ships
  5. Bulk Carriers
  6. Oil and Chemical Tankers
  7. Gas Tankers
  8. Other Tankers
  9. Passenger Ships
  10. Offshore Vessels
  11. Service Ships
  12. Tugs

Source of Information:

Equasis is fed by 50 data providers which can be divided into six categories: core ship and company data, PSC regimes, classification societies, P&I clubs, associations or vetting programs and other international organisations. Almost all of
these sources are used in this document to a greater or lesser extent. As to PSC information, it should be noted that not all inspections within the Indian Ocean MoU are reported in Equasis. Only inspections from Australia, France (La
Réunion Island), India, Iran, Mauritius, Oman, South Africa, Sri Lanka were considered in these statistics. In 2016, these eight countries carried out approximately 90% of all inspections within the Indian Ocean MoU.


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Source: EMSA


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