Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics


Containers are transported by global liner companies on regularly scheduled ship routes. A large variety of general cargos are containerized, such as manufactured products, food, and garment. Liner shipping services have fixed sequences of ports of call and fixed schedules, i.e., arrival and departure times at each port of call. Liner services are announced in advance to attract potential customers. Customers can arrange the delivery of their cargo based on the available date of the cargo at the origin port and the expected arrival date at the destination port. Therefore, container liner shipping is of significant importance to the global supply chain network.

Different schedules mean different sailing times between ports, which dictate different sailing speeds. It is known in the shipping industry that the daily fuel consumption of ships increases approximately proportional to the sailing speed cubed. Therefore, schedule design affects the bunker fuel consumption and thereby air pollutant emission. Reducing the fuel consumption will also improve the sustainability of the global container transportation network.

Container shipping lines provide weekly services for transporting containers, which means that the rotation time in terms of weeks for visiting all ports of call on a ship route is equal to the number of ships deployed. As a consequence, each port of call has a ship departure on the same day every week. When the speed of ships is higher, the rotation time is shorter, and hence fewer ships are required to maintain the weekly frequency.

The objective of this thesis is to develop mathematical models and solution algorithms for designing the schedules of container liner shipping services. The aim is to minimize the sum of ship cost, fuel cost and inventory cost, while ensuring that ports are available to serve the ships on the planned days.