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What Does SSL Mean in Logistics?

February 21, 2022 Kevin Baxter


When logistics pros or others in the shipping industry use the abbreviation SSL, they're referring to  a steamship line - sometimes with a space, i.e. steam ship line. Not to be confused with SSL in internet parlance (which refers to secure sockets layer), a steamship line owns and operates a fleet of maritime ships for the purpose of cargo movement. While the term SSL comes from a time when all of these freighters were steam-powered, that's no longer the case in most instances, leading  some to repurpose the abbreviation to stand for sea shipping line - or even simply shipping line (though that doesn't account for the extra 's') - to reflect the changing technology. Roughly 95% of all cargo travels at some point by ocean freight these days, so it's likely that SSL abbreviation will show up on an invoice you'll see somewhere.

What are the largest steamship line (SSL) companies?

Having established that SSL stands for steamship lines, perhaps the next logical question regards examples of these companies. As maritime freight movement is a key engine of worldwide shipping, it's helpful to be aware of some of the largest steamship line (SSL) companies, which include the top 10 of:

  1. MSC – Mediterranean Shipping Company

  2. AP Moller-Maersk
  3. CMA-CGM
  4. COSCO
  5. Hapag-Lloyd
  6. ONE - Ocean Network Express
  7. Evergreen
  8. HMM - Hyundai Merchant Marine
  9. Yang Ming Marine Transport
  10. ZIM - Zim Integrated Shipping Services

This largest steamship line (SSL) companies list is based on container capacity, which can be quite significant. The biggest ocean freighters can carry up to 24,000 containers in one go. And for this top 10 list, the top-ranked MSC and second ranked APM-Maersk account for a capacity of roughly 8.5 million TEU (20-foot equivalent) containers. 

As you navigate ocean freight, rail, truckload or likely a combination of these options, it helps to have an experienced freight broker on your side. Here at InTek Freight & Logistics, we can be just that. Simply let us know about your company's needs, and we'll put together a plan to optimize your shipping strategy.

Looking for more information about this and other freight & logistics topics? Visit our Learning Center for in-depth information about all things freight and shipping. Below are a few links to get started: 

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