A recently proposed frequency-based maritime container assignment model (Bell et al., 2011) seeks an assignment of full and empty containers to paths that minimises expected container travel time, whereas containers are in practice more likely to be assigned to minimise expected cost. A cost-based container assignment model is proposed here. It is assumed that routes and service frequencies are given so ship operating costs are also fixed. The objective is to assign containers to routes to minimise container handling costs, container rental and inventory costs. The constraints in the model are extended to include route as well as port capacities. It is shown that the problem remains a linear program. A numerical example is presented to illustrate the properties of the model. The paper concludes by considering the many applications of the proposed maritime container assignment model.