The role of the shipping industry in the global economy is huge. It connects businesses through the import/export of goods. In line with changing needs, ships now have larger capacity and speed. The role of ship finance is significant in making global maritime transportation possible. Over the years it has proved to be one of the cheapest means of transportation.

Different items can be transported using ships and bulk carriers:

Food items

Food items  include fresh, frozen, packaged partially processed foods. As these items come with a shorter lifespan, transporting them can be challenging. The majority of the goods transported by ships can spend months on-board. However, food items cannot; they need to reach their destination at the earliest juncture. One of the main reasons why ships are used instead of air freight is the large volumes of cargo that are transported by ship.

When choosing a vessel for transporting food items, it is important to remember that these items have higher risks of spoilage. Refrigerated ships, called reefers, should be used. These vessels come with temperature control units to keep the cargo intact throughout the journey.

Livestock and animals

Another important cargo transported through vessels is livestock and animals. Transportation of livestock is very challenging as they must survive the journey. They must get nutrition in the same way they would consume otherwise. Also, they need  proper ventilation and hygienic conditions.

Specialized carriers and modified bulk vessels which are generally used to transport cargo are developed in a way to create space for different kinds of animals. The cargo can be compartmentalized as it uses decks within the storage holds. In the case of multiple decks, vessels come with artificial lighting. The upper deck lets the animals have access to fresh air and space to move around.

Gas-based fuels including LNG and CNG

Petroleum and its by-products are one of the largest cargoes that get transported every year. These include volatile fuel, petroleum, crude oil, CNG and  LNG. One of the cheapest means of transporting this cargo is by ship. This type of requires specialized vessels that can withstand huge pressures.

If CNG and LNG are in the gaseous form. They cannot  be stored in large quantities in the cargo holds with other types of gases. Similarly, if the fuel is stored in  gaseous form its high volatile nature can lead to higher chances of an explosion. To avoid that the whole cargo is super-cooled at a very low temperature so that it can be turned into liquid form. This way the whole volume of gas gets reduced which means more tonnes can be transported at a time. This  will reduce the transportation costs per ton of the gas that is shipped. Also, liquidation of the gases also reduces the chances of catching fire and its volatility.

Cars and other vehicles

Shipping cars and other vehicles is very common in Europe, the Middle East, the US and in some parts of Asia including Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, China and Japan. This is like a ferry service where the vehicles are moved from one country to another along the coastline. To ferry vehicles along the coastline as cargo certain kinds of ships are used, called Ro-Ro ships (Roll on, Roll off). Such vessels are built in a way to take the heavy loads exerted by vehicles. They can also withstand the forces  applied to the vehicles when they are loaded  or unloaded from the ship.

These vessels are generally 1-2 decks deep with a fore which comes with a bridge and superstructures. Vehicles can be directly loaded on the ship as the aft comes with a lowering hydraulic ramp. Some vessels have no ramps, so quayside cranes are used to lift vehicles and place them on the ship. These  ships are generally used when  transporting vehicles that are unfinished and need to be shipped for further processing.

Factory equipment, machinery, and parts

Transporting machinery and parts by ship is potentially a profitable business especially with regard to bulk cargo. This is because this cargo does not follow any specific requirements, does not face issues like other cargoes and can withstand  sea motion without  issue.

There is always a fear of rusting with this cargo. Generally, the hold  of the ship is kept dry. However, any leaks cause moisture to develop inside. This can lead to corrosion. To avoid that, these vessels have specialized drying units. Additionally, to keep the holds devoid of moisture, drying agents of calcium are used.

Dry bulk cargo

Dry bulk cargo is shipped loosely. The cargo is placed in the hold without any packaging. Some examples are machinery parts, food items, minerals and ores. Movement throughout the journey must be managed. Movement can damage the ship or the goods. It is important to have compartmentalization to make sure the goods remain stable.

Another method to keep cargo in position is by netting the entire cargo hold. To reduce transverse movements, longitudinal divisions are made. This type of  vessel is termed an OBO carrier. It has a central holding facility to keep minerals and ore cargoes and large wing tanks at the edge of the cargo hold to keep liquids. The vessel is used to transport oil, and when returning,  ore. This makes the  process easy to manage.

Liquid bulk cargo

The majority of liquid bulk cargoes are petroleum and its by-products. This includes different products that are extracted after the processing and separation of crude oil.

This cargo brings high transportation risks as it is highly volatile. The risks are not limited to the cargo and the crew, but to the environment too. So, this carrier comes with a double bottom and has a double-shelled hold to make sure there is no leakage en route.

The vessel also has built-in, slosh-proof tanks, inside the storage holds. Is not possible to reduce the volatility of such cargo, so it is important to take necessary care to keep it away from the cargo holds.

Chemicals and hazardous materials

The majority of the carrier vessels used in the freight industry have transported chemicals or similar hazardous materials at least once. Certain companies have proved their expertise in developing high demand chemicals. This has led to a requirement to transport such cargoes.

Transporting chemicals poses a challenge to the ship and its crew. There are always  chances of corrosion, leakage, contamination and accidental poisoning. To avoid this, specially constructed storage tanks should be used. These tanks can safeguard against the above-mentioned problems from the time the cargo is loaded to the time it is discharged at the destination port.


The role of ships in the global maritime industry is huge. They play a vital role in stabilizing and growing the global economy. Such vessels transport tonnes of commodities every day.


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