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International Forwarding Association Blog » Sea freight in Europe » Types of Marine Vessels for Shipping Different Cargo Loads

Types of Marine Vessels for Shipping Different Cargo Loads

Tankships, also known as tankers, carry a wide selection of gases and liquids as well as cargo such as wine, molasses, and vegetable oils. They are built to ship commodities in a way that minimizes risks, including fungal and bacterial growth, spoilage of foods, and volatile behavior.

Other ships are used to transport livestock, including specialized vessels and modified bulk carriers that are designed to ship different types of animals. This means that the choice of vessel is important in ensuring safety during transit.



Foodstuff includes items such as partially processed, frozen, packaged, and fresh food, most of which are not easy to ship because of the risk of spoilage and their short shelf-life. While other types of cargo can spend a couple of months onboard, food requires quick shipping and is usually transported by air. Over short distances it may also require specialized transportation such as refrigerated trucking.

Ships, on the other hand, allow for the transportation of large volumes and can be used for certain types of food. The factors to consider are chances of mid-journey shifting and risk of spoilage. One solution is to use reefer vessels that are equipped with temperature controlling units to maintain temperatures below 0 ⁰C during transit. This helps extend the lifespan of foodstuff.


Shipping animals and livestock presents challenges especially while moved over long distances. There must be mechanisms and equipment in place to provide nutrition and ensure proper ventilation. This is why modified bulk carriers with a split deck system are used for livestock. The decks that are located below the main deck are usually used as resting areas.

Gas Based Fuels

Fuels such as CNC, LNG, crude oil, petroleum, and volatile fuels also have specific storage requirements because many of them are classified as hazardous goods. The transportation of gas and oil involves multiple risks, including environmental pollution, damaging vessels and property onboard, and waste. Two types of vessels are used to ship gas and oil – product and crude tankers. The latter can ship large volumes from extraction sites to refineries while product tankers move cargo from refineries to consumer markets.

It should be noted that bad choice of ship and vessel design are not the only causes of marine accidents. Other factors include external events, equipment failure, and human error. Errors are typically caused by wrong intention and assessment, lack of experience or training, alcohol, boredom, carelessness, jealousy, unawareness, and negligence. In terms of organization, reasons for human errors can be poor safety management and lack of motivation, supervision, and instruction. Because of the risk of marine accidents, it is not only the choice of a vessel that is important but also the right level of supervision to avoid hazards such as hull and structural failure, collision, grounding, explosion, and fire onboard. Other accidents occur less frequently but should be factored in. These include machinery failure, water ingress or flooding, and large ship motions.