International transportation is essential for economical development of a country. Ships and cargo planes are the main transportation formats today. Since, the cargo capacity of planes are small ships are responsible for majority of worlds international transportation. Ships specialised for transportation of goods are known as cargo ships.

History of Cargo ships

Cargo transportation has a very long history. Even, the ancient civilizations had ship cargo transportation systems. Many civilisations like ancient Egypt, Mayans had specialised cargo carrying ships.

However, the modern cargo ship industry was started in the early 1900’s. The autocarrier is the worlds first container ship. Auto carrier entered the service in 1931.

However, the bulk carriers have a longer history. Worlds first bulk carrier entered the service in 1852.

Types of cargo ships

There are five types of cargo. Container cargo, bulk cargo and roll on roll off cargo are the main 3 types. The three types of bulk cargo are liquid bulk, dry bulk and break bulk.

Container ships

Container ships are cargo ships which carry covered containers. Modern container ships can carry up to 24,000 20 ft containers. The main job of container ships is to carry day to day materials. Sea mails, couriers, business packages are usually send through container ships.

Types of container ships

Depending on the size there are 7 types of container ships. The largest type is ULCV. (Ultra large container vessel). Typically, ULCV carry more than 14,500 containers. However, ULCV can not fit in panama canal.

New Panamax is the second largest container ship type. They can carry 10,000 to 14,500 containers. Since, it can fit the panama canal new Panamax can move fast between seas.  Besides new Panamax, Post-Panamax and Panamax are the container ships designed to go across the panama canal. Feeder max, Feeder and small feeder are the other small container ships.

Small feeders can only carry 1000 container units. So, they are mostly suitable for domestic transportation.

Container cargo ships have container compartments to hold containers. Also, they have generator power supply for container cool boxes. ( When containers carry food, medicine and dangerous goods they will be stored in refrigerator containers.)

Bulk cargo carrier ships

Unlike, the container ships bulk carriers do not have compartment. Besides, they have huge tanks to carry bulk cargo.

The main three types of Bulk cargo carriers are,

  • Liquid bulk carrier
  • Dry bulk carrier
  • Break bulk carrier

Breakbulk carrier cargo ships

Breakbulk is also general goods like the once in the containers. The difference is they are not packed in large containers. Instead they are either packed in bags or small boxes. 

Breakbulk is filled in to large tanks in the carrier. The complexity of package handling is the major disadvantage comparing to container ships. 

Dry bulk carriers

Dry bulk is usually raw materials for industries. Grains, metal ores and energy materials are the most common types of dry bulk. 

Dry bulk carriers act a main role in all major industries. Typically, the raw materials for many industries are extracted in a different country other than the final production country.  However neither land or air transportation is economical to run an industry.

So, bulk carrier ships are the only option to resupply raw materials to industries.

Coal, grains, iron ore, aluminium ore are the most common dry bulk types in this industry. 

Liquid bulk carrier

 Liquid bulk carriers typically carry fuel and other chemicals. So, they are the most dangerous type of ships to work on. Therefore, liquid carriers typically have advance security measures to avoid accidents from occurring. 


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