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13. July 2020


Denmark keeps its fifth place

The Danish merchant fleet is still the fifth largest in the world. The total tonnage operated by Danish shipping companies is at the same level as last year.


It has been a windswept half-year for Danish shipping companies. The corona crisis has entailed challenges beyond usual.

However, despite difficult conditions the shipping companies have maintained the capacity, and therefore the total Danish merchant fleet is still the world’s fifth largest merchant fleet measured by operated tonnage.

New figures from Danish Shipping show that the aggregated Danish merchant fleet as from 1 July amounts to 64.2m gross tonnes* divided between 2,064 vessels.

”I am pleased that Denmark still holds a stable fifth place, which we occupy since last year. Since 2015, there has been a considerable growth of 25 percent in the total Danish merchant fleet. However, with the uncertainties in the world economy right now, the time is not to increase the capacity, but instead to maintain the position,” says Anne H. Steffensen, Director General and CEO of Danish Shipping.

In January 2020, the total capacity (gross tonnage) of the Danish merchant fleet was 64m GT divided between 2,036 vessels, while in July 2019 it was marginal higher at 64.7m GT divided between 2,089 vessels.

Low visibility

According to the market research company Clarksons Research, the global market for seaborn trade is expected to decrease by 5.6 percent in 2020. This will be the largest drop in 35 years. However, the different segments within seaborn transport are affected very differently.

”The last 6 months have been characterised by low visibility. And while some shipping companies have been able to sail relatively unaffected through the crisis, especially our ferry- and passenger companies have been badly hit by closed borders and travel restrictions “, says Anne H. Steffensen, who sees a little optimism ahead. 

”We can see that the second quarter for the container market, which first and foremost moves the world’s consumer goods, was better than expected. It is too early to foretell whether it is a sign that we are about to be well through the crisis. However, it bears witness that trade is still going on and thereby transport of goods is needed, “ says Anne H. Steffensen.

In 2019, Danish shipping companies exported for more than 207 bn DKK, which is an all time high for Denmark’s largest export industry.


See more facts regarding the development of the Danish flag in Danish Shipping's annual report 2020.


*The analysis of the total development of operated tonnage of Danish shipping companies include merchant ships (including passenger ships), offshore ships and various ships, including tugboats. Warships, fishing vessels and other non-merchant ships, including boats and constructions that are not able to sail themselves are not included in the analysis. Data is based on Clarksons Research.