Huge overseas cargo ships steaming through the night.

When we think of giant ocean liners, huge cargo shipping, see those pictures of sea captains in their uniforms and recall the ambiance portrayed in movies like The Titanic (with its story of young love and tragedy) sea voyages hold a certain kind of mystery whether they are passenger ships or cargo ships moving freight across the wide oceans in the middle of the night.

However, ocean freighters, are commercial cargo vessels that have no romance attached to them. At least for major motion picture producers.  Most people think of them as simply something that somehow happens “over there – from California on the West Coast to Asia; or from the East Coast to Europe – and no one really questions how so many products get from point a to point b.

In fact cargo shipping, freight forwarding (or shipping by freighter) and international trade ships have been traversing the seas as far back as the first millennium BC; as early as the 50-foot Mediterranean cargo ships of the 14th and 15th centuries BC.  Uluburun ship carried 20 tons of items like :

  • raw copper

  • glass

  • ivory

  • gold

  • spices

  • other treasures of exotic cargo from Canaan, Egypt, Greece and Africa. 

Improvements in shipping cargo developed a great deal during the Middle Ages and ravages of piracy (the stuff that movies and legends have romanticized) prior to the middle of the 19th century actually forced cargo ships to become armed.  When we think of modern piracy, the most recent movie with Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips” academy award winning movie comes to mind.

ETC Freight ForwardingAs experts in all kinds of overseas shipping and freight forwarding, by land, air or sea, we thought you’d like to understand a bit more about commercial cargo vessels and how it may just be an effective option for shipping your company’s products overseas or across the continent.

Up until the 20th Century, it was generally the practice that a ship would serve the dual purpose of both passenger and cargo vessel.  The only exception to this were what are called “tank vessels” which made their first appearance in the 1880s.  But on the whole, cargoes were carried  in “holds,” or even on deck. 

Our more modern commercial ships have specific design to carry cargo of many different types.  For instance, “bulk carriers” are designed to especially do what the name says – carry cargo “in bulk” with a hold or hatch cover that is designed to ship raw dry cargo such as grain, iron ore, bauxite, coal and the like.  Bulldozers often pour the contents into these giant holds and take them out at the other port of discharge.

Liquid cargo is carried in large tanks.  You’ve most likely seen oil tankers designed to carry that particular liquid.  In actuality tankers are designed especially for the type of liquid being carried so it is not only crude oil. It could be that a tanker carries petroleum productions, wine, chemicals.  Liquefied natural gas LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are kept under low temperate and under pressure to keep them in liquefied recently designed hybrid tankers

FPSO cargo (“Floating Production, Storage and Offloading” units are large tankers are built almost exclusively for the oil industry for offshore sites where they can process and store the oil obtained via offshore processes requires it.

Over the last 50 years or so carrying cargo has become easier and with more standardized size containers measured in 20 ft. units (TEU) or 40 ft. units (FEU).  Now it only takes hours to discharge cargo, where in the past it took days.  Former New Jersey truck driver Malcolm McLean developed this idea and built a cargo container to prove his concept.  Ten years later the revolution of container ships grew into a booming production and practice.

shipping cargo overseasYou may not find it romantic or the most interesting topic to learn the history of modern commercial cargo shipping, but suffice it to say that there actually is a history and a developing that makes overseas shipping a highly viable way that freight forwarding companies like ours services the international companies that depend on reliable shipping by sea.

It’s not complicated if you let the experts help.  Give us a call.  Let us insure the protection of your company’s valuable cargo.



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