Sea freight is simply a method of shipping goods using ocean-going carrier vessels. Goods are packed into boxes and then loaded onto a ship. A typical ocean freight ship may carry up to 18,000 individual containers so that sea freight is actually a very cost-effective means to ship large volumes over long distances. Here’s how it works.
Shipping companies rent out space on ocean-going vessels for storing their load of goods shipped. The container in which the goods are stored is known as an open container and is usually made of steel, vinyl, or plastic. Each container has been assigned a specific weight to allow the shipping company to know how much of the container should be loaded with goods and how much should be left floating free in the water. The container is then taken out to the sea where the container is filled with sea freight.
Once the container is at sea, the shipping company transfers it to a receiving vessel that carries it to its destination. When the container is filled with cargo, it will be opened up again and a team of professionals inside the receiving dock will pack all of the boxes up into the container. The exterior of the container is then painted with an acrylic coating which will help to protect the goods inside from the weather while they are being transported. This final step is called offloading. Offload is when the container is released from the ship and moved to a dry dock for collection. It is then prepared for delivery to its intended destination.
Most sea shipments will come from North America, and will usually go by way of a cargo ship, often a large oil tanker. These are big ships that have the ability to hold several hundred containers of goods. When a shipment does make it to its destination, it can have everything loaded onto one container. However, there are other cases when smaller vessels make the crossing. They can use tugs to help with ensuring that the cargo is evenly dispersed across the ocean.
When a shipment does reach its destination port, that is when the transportation company will be responsible for handling all customs paperwork. The paperwork includes preparing the container for shipment, loading it onto a trailer, driving it onto the trailer, and hauling it to the desired location. Some companies even have their own dedicated trucks that are outfitted with full-service services to do these kinds of services. In addition to hauling the cargo, these trucks will also have refrigeration units to ensure the items in the container are kept cold until they reach their destination. Once they arrive, they will be unloaded at the ports that the cargo ships arrive at first.
These are the basic steps required for a cargo vessel to cross the sea-boundaries. There are other specifics and details that make sea transport a unique service that can’t always be accomplished within regular shipping methods. However, a good knowledge of the specifics is necessary for those who want to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Knowing how a container configuration measures up against ocean-bound transportation options will give any business an edge in the market.