Ship transferring cargo to a terminal. [iStockphoto]

Shipping has been the main vehicle of international trade for centuries and remains a popular mode of transportation due to factors such as high load capacity, low cost, and reliability in bad weather.

Sea freight transport is also a preferred solution for long-distance shipments.

container cargo

Containerized cargo means general cargo, cargo or merchandise that is shipped in non-disposable, reusable, commercial size shipping containers that are customarily used on sea and ocean-going vessels for the convenient shipping of such cargo, cargo or goods.

Goods are usually shipped in metal-walled containers to protect them from temperature extremes, humidity and weather. Containers transported by sea are also suitable for train wagons, barges and trucks.

liquid bulk

Dangerous goods that fall into the liquid bulk category include fuel oil, gasoline, and crude oil.

They are shipped on large tankers and transported to refineries and other facilities. Barge tow trains and tankers are used to ship petroleum products while chemicals and food products are often transported by chemical tankers.

Vessels are subject to regular monitoring and verification inspections to ensure that they meet safety requirements. Logistics service providers who ship liquid bulk specialize in supply management, quality control, labeling and packaging.

In partnership with freight companies, IFA members also specialize in rapid transit and intermodal transport and have access to storage facilities that meet environmental, industrial, firefighting and fire prevention standards.


If you need to transport liquids or gases, you will probably use a tanker. Oil industry companies often use these vessels to safely transport liquids.

These boats tend to vary in size and some of the largest tankers are almost a quarter of a mile long! To transport liquids and gases internationally, you must use a secure tank truck.

Dry bulk

Dry bulk cargo refers to any cargo or goods shipped in bulk, which is stored in the cargo holds without packaging. Common examples of such goods include foodstuffs and machinery parts. Also, cargo carried by dry bulk carriers includes ores and minerals. These are generally shipped in bulk in cargo holds. Dry bulk can be divided into two sub-categories – minor and major bulk products.

The first category includes items such as fertilizers, minerals and cement, while the second category includes products such as iron ore and coal. Some dangerous goods are also transported by bulk carriers and require special measures during unloading, transport and loading.

load break

Individual or bulk freight refers to freight that requires individual loading and includes goods such as artwork, household furniture, agricultural machinery, and vehicle parts.

General cargo ships are used to transport bulk cargo and the items are loaded into barrels, drums, crates and boxes. Weatherproof and military types of corrugated fiberboard are also used to ship bulk cargo.

Roll on or roll off

This category includes rolling stock such as project cargo, heavy machinery, machinery and vehicles. Ports that handle roll-on/roll-off cargo offer a number of specialist services such as second stage fabrication, spraying, dewaxing, washing, repair and installation of air conditioning, hooks, dents and other components.

Pre-delivery inspections are also carried out at vehicle processing centers. Additional services include inventory management, fiscal representation, distribution and storage of goods.

These types of vessels have built-in ramps on their bow or stern (the ramps can also be ashore) to facilitate the loading and unloading of wheeled cargo than if done with a crane.

On the other side of the RORO ships, there are the so-called LOLO, or lo-lo, which are those equipped with cranes for loading and unloading cargo.

Variations of ro-ro ships

There are different types of ro-ro ships. Car transporters: Those who exclusively transport cars. Pure Car/Truck Transporter (PCTC): Those who transport trucks as well as cars.

ConRo: or RoCon. This type of vessel stacks containerized cargo on the upper decks and vehicles are stored on the lower decks.

RoLo: a vessel with ramps for vehicle decks but with other cargo decks accessible only when the tides change or by the use of a crane

RoPax: is the acronym for roll-on/roll-off passenger, a ship built for the transport of cargo vehicles as well as the accommodation of passengers.

Transport of livestock and animals

Livestock and animals are another cargo commonly transported between several countries.

Vessels commonly used to transport livestock include modified bulk carriers and specialized vessels intended to create space for different categories of animals.

These ships have decks in the storage holds that compartmentalize the cargo. There must be adequate lighting provided by artificial means in the case of multi-deck vessels.

However, it is best to use a split deck system to ensure animals arrive at their destination in the best possible condition. This system consists of keeping several decks below the main deck primarily as rest areas.


Companies typically tow barges behind ships to provide more cargo space. Freighters use barges daily, so if you see an extra boat behind a freighter, it’s most likely a barge.

Small shipments can be consolidated with other goods to fill a container, thereby sharing the cost of transportation services.

Larger shipments can fill one or more containers, giving shippers unparalleled bulk options. In fact, ships are the perfect way to move large volumes of cargo.

The author is CEO, Airwagon Cargo Movers Ltd. [email protected]