How are goods carried on ships?

How are goods carried on ships?Sending goods overseas by ship is without a doubt one of the most cost-effective options, even if it is a little bit slow in comparison to other methods. On this page, we are going to take a little look at the three methods that goods will be carried by ship. Not all of them will be applicable to your business, but they are certainly worth knowing about.

Container Shipping

The vast majority of goods carried by ship will be sent via a container. Containers tend to come in one of two different sizes:

  • 20 foot, with a volume of 33.2 cubic metres.
  • 40 foot, with a volume of 67.7 cubic metres.

These contains can be open-topped, refrigerated, or simple closed containers. The option used will, of course, be dependent on the goods which are being shipped.

One of the biggest benefits of container shipping is that it is easy to deal with. Containers can be unloaded whole. Individual goods do not to be taken out of the container before being sent on for further transportation. The container can be taken off and put on the road or rail instantly. This makes this method highly efficient and that can help bring the cost of shipping down.

In addition to this, container shipping ensures the security of your goods during transport. After all, these goods are going to be locked away in a container. It is very rare that anybody will ever have the opportunity to tamper with them.


This is the opposite to container shipping. The goods will not be put into containers. They may, instead, be put on pallets, drums, or even in sacks. Basically, the items are going to be loaded directly onto the ship. This method is mainly used by the fresh fruit industry where container shipping is not appropriate. In addition to this, break bulk shipping will normally be used to ship goods to locations which do not have the ability to handle containers i.e. smaller ports.

The downside to this method is that break bulk shipping means that the goods are subject to damage as they do not have the protection of the container. Those that go down this route will almost certainly wish to ensure that the goods that they are shipping are well-protected.

Bulk shipping

There are some goods which will be transported in bulk on a specialised ship. For example, oil will be sent on an oil tanker. This can also apply to certain ores, coal, or even wheat. This method is, obviously, not really used by those who are shipping products simply because you will be taking up the whole ship! It, therefore, can get expensive.

Remember, you should always talk to the company which is providing your shipping to find out what the best shipping method for your products are. This will not only depend on the product which you are shipping, but the locations in which you are shipping the products to.