Cargo ship
Overview
 
A cargo ship or freighter is any sort of ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

 or vessel that carries cargo
Cargo
Cargo is goods or produce transported, generally for commercial gain, by ship, aircraft, train, van or truck. In modern times, containers are used in most intermodal long-haul cargo transport.-Marine:...

, goods, and materials from one port to another. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world's seas and oceans each year; they handle the bulk of international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

. Cargo ships are usually specially designed for the task, often being equipped with crane
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

s and other mechanisms to load and unload, and come in all sizes. Today, they are almost always built of welded steel, and with some exceptions generally have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years before being scrapped.
Cargo ships/freighters can be divided into four groups, according to the type of cargo they carry.
Encyclopedia
A cargo ship or freighter is any sort of ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

 or vessel that carries cargo
Cargo
Cargo is goods or produce transported, generally for commercial gain, by ship, aircraft, train, van or truck. In modern times, containers are used in most intermodal long-haul cargo transport.-Marine:...

, goods, and materials from one port to another. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world's seas and oceans each year; they handle the bulk of international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

. Cargo ships are usually specially designed for the task, often being equipped with crane
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

s and other mechanisms to load and unload, and come in all sizes. Today, they are almost always built of welded steel, and with some exceptions generally have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years before being scrapped.

Types

Cargo ships/freighters can be divided into four groups, according to the type of cargo they carry. These groups are:
  1. General Cargo Vessels
  2. Tankers
  3. Dry-bulk Carriers
  4. Multipurpose Vessels


General Cargo Vessels carry packaged items like chemicals, foods, furniture, machinery, motor vehicles, footwear, garments, etc.

Tankers carry petroleum products or other liquid cargo.

Dry Bulk Carriers carry coal, grain, ore and other similar products in loose form.

Multi-purpose Vessels, as the name suggests, carry different classes of cargo – e.g. liquid and general cargo – at the same time.

Specialized types of cargo vessels include container ship
Container ship
Container ships are cargo ships that carry all of their load in truck-size intermodal containers, in a technique called containerization. They form a common means of commercial intermodal freight transport.-History:...

s and bulk carrier
Bulk carrier
A bulk carrier, bulk freighter, or bulker is a merchant ship specially designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo, such as grains, coal, ore, and cement in its cargo holds. Since the first specialized bulk carrier was built in 1852, economic forces have fueled the development of these ships,...

s (technically tanker
Tanker (ship)
A tanker is a ship designed to transport liquids in bulk. Major types of tankship include the oil tanker, the chemical tanker, and the liquefied natural gas carrier.-Background:...

s of all sizes are cargo ships, although they are routinely thought of as a separate category).
Cargo ships fall into two further categories that reflect the services they offer to industry: liner and tramp services. Those on a fixed published schedule and fixed tariff rates are cargo liners. Tramp ships do not have fixed schedules. Users charter them to haul loads. Generally, the smaller shipping companies and private individuals operate tramp ships.
Cargo liners run on fixed schedules published by the shipping companies. Each trip a liner takes is called a voyage. Liners mostly carry general cargo. However, some cargo liners may carry passengers also. A cargo liner that carries 12 or more passengers is called a combination or passenger-cum-cargo line.

History

The earliest records of waterborne activity mention the carriage of items for trade; the evidence of history and archaeology shows the practice to be widespread by the beginning of the 1st millennium BC
1st millennium BC
The 1st millennium BC encompasses the Iron Age and sees the rise of many successive empires, and spanned from 1000 BC to 1 BC.The Neo-Assyrian Empire, followed by the Achaemenids. In Greece, Classical Antiquity begins with the colonization of Magna Graecia and peaks with the rise of Hellenism. The...

. The desire to operate trade routes over longer distances and at more seasons of the year motivated improvements in ship design during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

.

Before the middle of the 19th century, the incidence of piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 resulted in most cargo ships being armed, sometimes quite heavily, as in the case of the Manila galleon
Manila Galleon
The Manila galleons or Manila-Acapulco galleons were Spanish trading ships that sailed once or twice per year across the Pacific Ocean between Manila in the Philippines, and Acapulco, New Spain . The name changed reflecting the city that the ship was sailing from...

s and East Indiamen
East Indiamen
An East Indiaman was a ship operating under charter or license to any of the East India Companies of the major European trading powers of the 17th through the 19th centuries...

. This sometimes resulted in the ships being escorted.

Piracy

Piracy
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 is still quite common in some waters, particularly in the Malacca Straits, a narrow channel between Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 / Malaysia, and cargo ships are still commonly targeted. In 2004, the governments of those three nations agreed to provide better protection for the ships passing through the Straits. The waters off Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 and Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 are also prone to piracy, while smaller vessels are also in danger along parts of the South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

n, Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

n coasts and near the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

.

Definitions

The words cargo and freight have become interchangeable in casual usage. Technically, "cargo" refers to the goods carried aboard the ship for hire, while "freight" refers to the compensation the ship or charterer receives for carrying the cargo.

Generally, the modern ocean shipping business is divided into two classes:
  1. Liner business: typically (but not exclusively) container vessels (wherein "general cargo" is carried in 20 or 40-foot "boxes"), operating as "common carriers", calling a regularly published schedule of ports. A common carrier refers to a regulated service where any member of the public may book cargo for shipment, according to long-established and internationally agreed rules.
  2. Tramp-tanker business: generally this is private business arranged between the shipper and receiver and facilitated by the vessel owners or operators, who offer their vessels for hire to carry bulk (dry or liquid) or break bulk (cargoes with individually handled pieces) to any suitable port(s) in the world, according to a specifically drawn contract, called a charter party
    Charter Party
    The Charter Party of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, is a minor political party. The party is Cincinnati's third party. Members of this party are called "Charterites."-History:...

    .


Larger cargo ships are generally operated by shipping line
Shipping line
-History of shipping lines:Large-scale shipping lines became widespread in the nineteenth century, after the development of the steamship in 1783. At first, Great Britain was the centr of development; in 1819, the first steamship crossing of the Atlantic Ocean took place and by 1833, shipping lines...

s: companies that specialize in the handling of cargo in general. Smaller vessels, such as coaster
Coastal trading vessel
Coastal trading vessels, also known as coasters, are shallow-hulled ships used for trade between locations on the same island or continent. Their shallow hulls mean that they can get through reefs where deeper-hulled sea-going ships usually cannot....

s, are often owned by their operators.

Vessel prefixes

A category designation appears before the vessel's name. Naval ships, for example, have "USS" (United States Ship), "HMS" (Her/His Majesty's Ship), "HTMS" (His Thai Majesty's Ship). Merchant ships may have "RMS (Royal Mail Ship, usually a passenger liner), "MV" (Motor Vessel, powered by Diesel
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

). "SS" (Steam Ship, now seldom seen, powered by steam
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

). "TS", sometimes found in first position before a merchant ship's prefix, denotes that it is a Turbine Steamer. (For further discussion, see Ship prefixes.)

Famous cargo ships include the Liberty ships of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, partly based on a British design. Liberty ship sections were prefabricated
Prefabrication
Prefabrication is the practice of assembling components of a structure in a factory or other manufacturing site, and transporting complete assemblies or sub-assemblies to the construction site where the structure is to be located...

 in locations across the USA and then assembled by shipbuilders in an average of six weeks, with the record just over four days. These ships allowed the Allies to replace sunken cargo vessels at a rate greater than the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

's U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s could sink them, and contributed significantly to the war effort, the delivery of supplies, and eventual victory over the Axis powers.

Lake freighter
Lake freighter
Lake freighters, or Lakers, are bulk carrier vessels that ply the Great Lakes. The best known was the , the most recent and largest major vessel to be wrecked on the Lakes. These vessels are traditionally called boats, although classified as ships. In the mid-20th century, 300 lakers worked the...

s built for the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 in North America differ in design from "salties" because of the difference in wave size and frequency in the lakes. A number of these boats are so large that they cannot leave the lakes because they do not fit into the locks on the Saint Lawrence Seaway
Saint Lawrence Seaway
The Saint Lawrence Seaway , , is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal...

.

Sizes of cargo ships

Cargo ships are categorized partly by capacity, partly by weight, and partly by dimensions (often with reference to the various canals and canal locks they fit through). Common categories include:
  • Dry Cargo
    • Small Handy size, carriers of -
    • Handy size
      Handysize
      Although there is no official definition in terms of exact tonnages, Handysize most usually refers to a dry bulk vessel with deadweight of about 15,000–35,000 tons...

      , carriers of 28,000-
      • Seawaymax
        Seawaymax
        The term Seawaymax refers to vessels which are the maximum size that can fit through the canal locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway.Seawaymax vessels are in length, wide, and have a draft of and a height above the waterline of . A number of lake freighters larger than this size cruise the Great...

        , the largest size that can traverse the St Lawrence Seaway
    • Handymax
      Handymax
      Handymax and Supramax are naval architecture terms for a bulk carrier,in a series that is called Handysize class. Handysize class consists of Supramax , Handymax , and Handy Handymax and Supramax are naval architecture terms for a bulk carrier,in a series that is called Handysize class. Handysize...

      , carriers of 40,000-
    • Panamax
      Panamax
      Panamax and New Panamax are popular terms for the size limits for ships traveling through the Panama Canal. Formally, the limits and requirements are published by the Panama Canal Authority titled "Vessel Requirements"...

      , the largest size that can traverse the Panama Canal
      Panama Canal
      The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

       (generally: vessels with a width smaller than 32.2 m)
    • Capesize
      Capesize
      Capesize ships are cargo ships originally too large to transit the Suez Canal . To travel between oceans, such vessels used to have to pass either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn. In effect Capesize reads as "unlimited"...

      , vessels larger than Panamax and Post-Panamax, and must traverse the Cape of Good Hope
      Cape of Good Hope
      The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

       and Cape Horn
      Cape Horn
      Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...

       to travel between oceans
    • Chinamax
      Chinamax
      Chinamax is a standard of shipmeasurements, that allow conforming ships to use multiple harbours at maximum capacity. Inversely, harbours and other infrastructure that are "Chinamax-compatible" can receive such ships economically, i.e...

      , carriers of 380,000- with main dimensions limited by port infrastructure in China
  • Wet Cargo
    • Aframax
      Aframax
      An ' ship is an oil tanker smaller than and with a breadth above 32.31 m. The term is based on the Average Freight Rate Assessment tanker rate system. class tankers are largely used in the basins of the Black Sea, the North Sea, the Caribbean Sea, the China Sea and the Mediterranean...

      , oil tankers between 75,000 and . This is the largest size defined by the average freight rate assessment (AFRA) scheme.
    • Suezmax
      Suezmax
      Suezmax is a naval architecture term for the largest ship measurements capable of transiting the Suez Canal, and is almost exclusively used in reference to tankers. Since the canal has no locks, the only serious limiting factors are draft , and height due to the Suez Canal Bridge...

      , the largest size that can traverse the Suez Canal
      Suez Canal
      The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

    • VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier), supertankers between 150,000 and .
      • Malaccamax
        Malaccamax
        Malaccamax is a naval architecture term for the largest size of ship capable of fitting through the -deep Strait of Malacca. Because the Sunda Strait is even shallower at minimum depth, a post-Malaccamax ship would need to use even longer alternate routes such as:*Lombok Strait, Makassar Strait,...

        , the largest size that can traverse the Strait of Malacca
        Strait of Malacca
        The Strait of Malacca is a narrow, stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is named after the Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 to 1511.-Extent:...

    • ULCC (Ultra Large Crude Carrier), enormous supertankers between 320,000 and

See also

  • Merchant vessel
    Merchant vessel
    A merchant vessel is a ship that transports cargo or passengers. The closely related term commercial vessel is defined by the United States Coast Guard as any vessel engaged in commercial trade or that carries passengers for hire...

  • Ship transport
    Ship transport
    Ship transport is watercraft carrying people or goods . Sea transport has been the largest carrier of freight throughout recorded history. Although the importance of sea travel for passengers has decreased due to aviation, it is effective for short trips and pleasure cruises...

  • Merchant Navy
  • United States Merchant Marine
    United States Merchant Marine
    The United States Merchant Marine refers to the fleet of U.S. civilian-owned merchant vessels, operated by either the government or the private sector, that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine is...


External links

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