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How to buy a container ship ?

How to buy a container ship ?

After the epidemic, the recovery of international trade and transportation industries has also driven global shipbuilding manufacturing and ship trade.

In the post-epidemic era, how to seize the opportunity and purchase suitable container ships has become the top priority for many transportation companies and trading companies.

We will analyze how to buy a container ship from different angles.

1: Where to buy container ships?

2: What kind of container ship should we buy?

3: Should I buy a new or used container ship?

container ship

1: Where to buy container ships?

  • Before answering this question, let us look back at history. Since 1970, Japan's shipbuilding industry became the number one in the world with its excellent quality. Japan's shipbuilding manufacturing industry and exports have experienced 20 years of rapid development before 1990, the rapid rise of South Korea brought huge competition to Japan's shipbuilding manufacturing industry. Due to the price advantage of Korean labor, ships manufactured in South Korea became more competitive in the international market. South Korea also naturally surpassed Japan and became the world's largest shipbuilding country.
shipbuilding country
  • When the time came to 2010, with China's “reform and opening up” policy, 40 years of accumulation made China the world's largest manufacturing country. In order to meet the export of Chinese goods, China made major breakthroughs in ship manufacturing and technological development. The price advantage of Chinese manufacturing takes over Japan and South Korea, the quality of ships is also rapidly catching up with Japan and South Korea. For ships of the same tonnage, class and quality, the price in China is only half that of Japan and South Korea. For these reasons, China became the world's number one shipbuilding country since 2010.

      new container ship building   new container ship for sale     

2: What kind of container ship should we buy ?
  • How large a container ship to buy depends on your current needs, as well as the cycle of capital investment and return. For small transportation companies or regional transportation needs, container ships with a capacity of less than 20,000 tons and 500-800 containers are sufficient. For large-scale intercontinental trade needs, you can choose container ships of 20,000-50,000 tons. For large global transportation companies, they often cooperate with shipyards to build ships of 50,000-100,000 tons or even larger.  (In June 2023, China built the world’s largest container ship)
  • After deciding the size of the ship, do you need to calculate the payback period? For example: a 24,000-ton container ship owned by Changlong Group costs 1.05 billion yuan, or about 143 million U.S. dollars. Over a 25-year life, the annual depreciation expense is about $4.5 million, so the deal is certainly worth it.
  • Currently, the route from China to the United States is the most profitable. The shipping cost for a box from Shanghai to Los Angeles is about $15,000. Although the ship is designed to hold 24,000 TEU boxes, considering the box space utilization and load utilization, it usually only carries 20,000 boxes. Therefore, the total shipping cost is approximately $300 million. It costs about $4,000 to make one box, so 20,000 boxes cost about $80 million.
  • The ship takes only 13 days from Shanghai to Los Angeles, consumes approximately 220 tons of fuel per day, and costs approximately US$420 per ton of heavy oil. 


  • Besides, the personnel wages is 3,000 USD/Per , 13 days of fuel consumption and personnel wages is totaling USD 1.25 million. In addition, there are agency fees, port fees, water diversion fees and other miscellaneous fees, totaling approximately $200,000. Therefore, the gross profit for this flight was approximately $298 million.
  • Not only would the flight recoup the cost of the ship and boxes, but it would also generate another $50 million in profit. After deducting all expenses, you can still get a certain profit. Of course, if you choose other routes, the income will be lower. In short, the more frequent the transportation, the higher the income.
3: Should I buy a new or used container ship?
  • People always hesitate to buy a new ship or a used shipFor large shipping companies and businesses with sufficient cash flow, it is recommended to build new ships. The cost of building a ship depends largely on the price of steel. Therefore, companies can freely choose the construction time to save ship manufacturing costs, which is a long-term investment.
  • However, for most small and medium-sized enterprises and a few investors, second-hand ships are their best choice. The price of a 10-year-old second-hand ship is only half of that of a new ship. If the ship seller needs cash, the price can be negotiated to one third.

Top 10 Chinese second-hand ship trading platform

  • China has experienced three years of epidemic. Many small businesses and individual investors have chosen to sell used ships at low prices due to pressure from banks. This is also a good opportunity.
  •  In addition, if you are a second-hand ship buyer, you can sell your ship a few years later, but its price can still remain at the level of a used one’s. For a well-maintained ship, it is even possible that the price will increase due to the increase in steel prices. In other words, the money earned during the past years is pure profit. This is a good temptation for many investors.
  • Therefore, if you are a small and medium-sized enterprise or an individual investor, buying used ships would be a good choice. However, the key is to find a good second-hand ship trading platform.
This is a Chinese top 10 second-hand ship trading platform for reference.


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