The capacity of a container ship varies considerably depending on its size and design. Container ships are designed to carry intermodal containers, and their capacity is usually measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). A TEU represents the capacity of a standard 20-foot-long intermodal container.

On average, a medium-sized container ship is capable of transporting approximately 15,000 TEUs. This is an indicative figure, as the capacity of container ships ranges widely, from smaller feeder ships that carry a few hundred TEUs, to the largest class of vessels that can accommodate over 24,000 TEUs.

Currently, some of the largest container ships in service boast impressive TEU capacities. For instance, the MSC Irina has a staggering capacity of 24,346 TEUs, while the MSC Tessa follows closely behind, with a capacity of 24,116 TEUs. These colossal vessels represent the upper end of the scale and are responsible for carrying vast quantities of cargo across the globe.

On the other end of the spectrum, smaller container ships can only accommodate a capacity in the low hundreds. Despite their smaller size, these vessels play a critical role in the global shipping network by connecting smaller ports that cannot accommodate larger vessels.

It’s important to note that the capacity of a container ship isn’t just about the number of containers it can hold. The distribution and weight of the containers are also significant factors in ensuring the safety and stability of the vessel. Hence, operational realities may sometimes limit the total number of containers a ship can carry.

In conclusion, the number of containers a container ship can hold depends primarily on its size and design. With a wide range of capacities, from a few hundred to over 24,000 TEUs, these vessels form the backbone of international trade, transporting goods of all kinds around the globe.