What are Cargo Ships – An Intro

Any kind of a ship or any other vessel that transports heavy goods and materials from one port to another is called a cargo ship. These are also known as freighters and there are thousands of them that swarm the seas of the earth at any given time, because they handle the major bulk of the services of international trade. Even today, shipping is considered to be the best mode of transportation and transfer of trade goods and any sort of business item. This is because it is very safe in handling of delicate materials and is quite cheap.

There are mainly four different kinds of cargo ships and they are classified on the basis of the cargo that they carry, namely; general cargo vessels, multi-purpose vessels, dry-bulk carriers and last but not the least, tankers. General cargo vessels mostly carry packaged goods like foods, footwear, garments, chemicals, machinery, furniture and motor vehicles etc.

Representation Image - Photograph by Bunga Lalang

Representation Image – Photograph by Bunga Lalang

The tankers are vessels that have especially designed containers to transport liquid cargo like petroleum products. The dry-bulk carriers transport non-packaged loose materials like food grains, coal, and other similar products. The multi-purpose vessels are true to their name and carry all kinds of goods whether liquid or general cargo. They have separate containers and storage system for all these goods.

Types of Cargo Ships

A different kind of specification segregates the cargo ships into further two different categories, namely the liners and the tramp ships. The ships that travel on a fixed pre scheduled route and have charged tariffs are called liners or cargo liners. On the other hand the vessels that do not follow any pre determined schedule or route and are chartered by various users to transport their goods at a fixed contractual price are called tramp ships.

Container ship

Representation Image – Credits: Muhammad Mahdi Karim/wikimedia.org

The smaller shipping companies generally opt for tramp ships as they do not have enough fleet to run liner voyages. In some cases the cargo ships also carry few passengers along. So any ship that has a capacity to carry 12 or more passengers along with the loads is called a passenger-cum-cargo liner.

Present Scenario

Though the history of cargo ships could be traced back to the B.C era, but organised transportation started off in the latter half of the second millennium A.D. yet the biggest threats were pirates. Incidences of high sea piracy made sea voyages a daunting task, therefore such cargo ships were heavily armed for their own defence. In some cases there used to be a combat ship that was ordered to accompany these ships when it had huge goods on board. In present times such threats have more or less been wiped out as the once lawless seas have been brought under jurisdictions.

Modern day cargo liners are heavy, strongly built vessels that can with stand the toughest weather conditions. They are designed in a manner to optimize space and increase the container capacity. Most of these cargo ships are equipped with mechanism to load the cargo and unload like the designed cranes thereby making them swift and efficient. Indeed it has been a long journey since the introduction of modern cargo liners.