Saturday, March 11, 2006

Transportation / Shipping / Container ships 3 comments

(P.S: Sorry for any disturbances the advertisements above may have caused you)

The other main class of cargo ships would be container ships, otherwise known as liners (as what NOL classifies them in its reports). The size of these ships are second only to the VLCCs (crude oil tankers), and the majority of the world's manufactured goods are transported on these ships.

Categorisation of container ships
Generally the term container ships are used to describe ships which are built to carry standardised containers in 20-foot(TEU) or 40-foot(FEU) sizes --- the number refers to the length of the container. These allow rapid deployment from the factories via trucks and loading/unloading at the port terminals by the cranes.

Generally, container ships may be divided into the large main line vessels that ply the deep sea routes (NOL's specialty), and the many small "feeder" ships that supply the large ships at centralized hub ports (Samudera's specialty). The feeder ships are sometimes known as coasters as they ply the coasts.

The size of container ships are typically described via these standard container sizes, in terms of TEU capacity. To get an idea of the magnitudes involved for small to large container ships, one categorisation has it down as follows:

<2000 TEU --> 2000-6500 TEU --> >6500 TEU
that may be seen as small --> medium --> large

To get another feel for the size of TEUs, in 2004, more than 23.5 million TEUs of containerized cargo were imported into or exported from the U.S.

There is also a dimensional-related classification for container ships similar to the earlier bulk carriers --- the dimensional constraints at the various global shipping bottlenecks. Vessel size has been expanding over the years --- previously they had been limited by the locks in the Panama Canal, in coming years they will be heading towards "Suezmax" capacity (barely able to ply the Suez Canal, 12000 TEUs), and people are now talking about "Malacca-Max" capacity (just able to traverse the Straits of Malacca, 18000 TEUs). The latter should be the limit before major restructuring of world container trade routes.

Given the nature of the good transported by container ships (finished goods), it is reasonable to assume that their fortunes would be a proxy to global consumer demand, in particular electronic goods (my opinion).

Other types of "container" ships
There are however other types of cargo ships which are customised for specific dry cargoes that can't be "containerised", in addition to the bulk carriers that have been mentioned in the previous blog. When cargo can't be containerised in the standard units, flat racks, open top containers and platforms on the ships are employed to hold them. The other cargo ship types are listed below:

General Cargo Ships
-> Ships that transport cargo that will not fit into containers, such as large machinery, sheets of metal, timber, agricultural exports etc. Before containerisation was introduced, these were used to transport manufactured goods.

The slower loading and unloading of general cargo - also known as break bulk - means that general cargo ships usually spend much longer in port than container ships.

-> This stands for 'Roll on - Roll off' - these ships are designed to transport vehicles which drive onto the car loadiing decks via a ramp at the stern and/or the side of the ship. This is a specialty of Singapore Shipping.

Mail and Supply Ships
-> Mail and supply ships carry mail, cargo and passengers to small isolated communities.

-> Reefers are so called because they are refrigerated ships designed to carry frozen or chilled cargo, mainly perishable food products.

(1) Wikipedia article: Container ships
(2) Ship types
(3) Vessel types and pictures
(4) World Shipping Council: Industry Issues
(5) ISL Market Analysis 2003




Anonymous stock analyst said...

very nice article. thankyou

6/27/2010 10:23:00 PM  
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