The appropriate types of cargo ships according to the load they carry

Maritime transport comprises most of global trade and is carried by cargo ships. The differences between them reflect the different ways cargo can be carried and the diverse cargo that can be transported. That’s the reason for all these varied types of freighter ships sailing the seas.

Container ships, bulk carriers, refrigerated cargo ships or reefers and ro-ro vessels are just some of the cargo ships navigating the oceans. A list of their advantages and characteristics follows.

Bulk Carrier

Bulk carriers are designed to carry unpackaged goods. They haul large volumes of single-commodity goods such as fertilisers, grain, ore, wood, etc. They also transport machinery, coal, cement and other raw materials.

Bulk carriers are segregated into these categories:

  • Capesize: The largest in size of the dry cargo ships. Able to carry 110,000 tonnes or more of raw materials, mostly ore or grain. It represents 9% of the world’s bulk carrier fleet.
  • Panamax: This ship travels through the Panama canal and it’s defined by the canal’s size limits. 40 to 42ft draught for the old Panamax and about 50ft for the newer model, and its cargo capacity is typically about 60,000 tonnes for Panamax and nearly double for New Panamax. Comprises about 19% of the bulk carrier fleet.
  • Handymax: 30 to 35ft draught, a load capacity of 37,000 tonnes, and it represents approximately 24% of the world’s bulk carrier fleet.
  • Handysize: Smaller than the handymax class and with a load capacity of 30,000 tonnes. They represent 48% of the bulk carrier fleet.

Container ships

Container ships, also called ‘box ships’, are large vessels designed to transport standard 10ft, 20ft, 40ft, 45ft, High Cube, Open Top, Flat Rack, Garments on Hanger (GOH) or refrigerated containers.

These container ships are so widely used in international transport they are usually highly automated and newer models even emit zero emissions.

Nowadays these vessels transport the vast majority of non-bulk cargo worldwide. In other words, most of the maritime shipping is carried by container ships.

Suppliers for cargo vessels
Container ships are so widely used in international transport. Freepik photo.

General cargo ships

General cargo ships are specifically focused on carrying loose-packaged cargo of all types, but they are not fitted to transport containers. A general cargo ship may have a single hold or several, and tween decks.

One of the main features of this type of vessel is that it has its own set of cranes integral to the vessel, they are used to perform the loading and unloading of cargo at port.

It’s also labelled a multi-purpose vessel for the variety of loads it can accommodate and its adaptability.

Roll-on/Roll-off or Ro-Ro vessels

Ro-Ro is short for ‘Roll-on, Roll-off’, which describes how products are loaded and discharged from a vessel. These vessels carry wheeled cargo that is loaded on its own wheels or using a platform vehicle. There is typically a set of decks interconnected via ramps or elevators, and doors located at the bow or stern of the ship.

These ships are designed to transport all kinds of vehicles, trucks, wheeled cargo, even trailers carrying containers. The design of these vessels includes an anti-heeling system with ballast water tanks connected via cross-pipes and pumps.

Reefer ships

A reefer ship is a refrigerated ship used to transport perishable cargo. This particular cargo requires a set temperature to arrive in safe conditions at the port of destination.

The controlled temperature ranges from 12º to -30º C. The cargo capacity goes from 100,000 to 600,000 sq ft. The ships are usually painted white to minimise heat build-up, the colour white reflects more light and therefore absorbs less heat.

It is also worth noting that due to the nature of the load these vessels tend to be faster than other cargo ships.

Oil Tankers

A big sized vessel designed for the bulk transport of oil or its products. Oil and gas tankers are capable of offshore berthing. Can carry up to 2,000,000 barrels of oil.

Petroleum tanker vessel supplier
Suisca Group we are ready to provide all solutions and all answers to your every need. Freepik photo.

Gas tankers

Ships designed to transport liquefied gas or natural gas. The nature of the cargo demands high technology design and machinery, and that means high construction costs.

There are two main categories of gas tankers: LNG, transporting liquefied gas at temperatures nearing -170º Celsius; and LPG, transporting the load at -50º Celsius.

The chemical load is stored in spherical tanks lined on the main deck of the vessel.

Chemical tankers

A vessel designed to transport chemicals in bulk such as phenol, gasoline, or ammonia among others. These are not the largest cargo ships, ranging from 5,000 to 35,000 or even 50,000 DWT. Chemical tankers feature a double-hull and stainless steel tanks.

Livestock carrier ships

Specifically designed to transport large numbers of live animals together with their requirements for the voyage: feeding, medication, air ventilation etc. In some livestock carriers the animal pens can be installed in open decks.

Heavy-Lift ships

Designed to carry very heavy or large loads such as industrial machinery: from jet bridges to wind turbines.

When we talk about the needs of the different types of cargo ships and the needs of your business, at Suisca Group we are ready to provide all solutions and all answers to your every need. Trustworthy service, a 24h committed team and all the care and knowledge of more than 30 years of experience. Suisca Group is your maritime partner wherever you are. Get in touch with us and our team of specialists will help you find the solution you need.