Specialized ocean vessels dominate the international shipping industry. Shippers are familiar with breakbulk ships, tankers and other vessels, but the two most popular specialized vessels are container ships and RO/RO (Roll-On/Roll-Off) vessels. Container ships are the most widely used type of vessels on the ocean today. They can move standardized containers of 20-feet, 40-feet or 45-feet in length and niches like high cube and open top. RO/RO (Roll-On/Roll-Off) ships handle wheeled cargo such as heavy machinery, construction equipment and agricultural equipment. These machines are driven on and off the ships at the port.
Wouldn’t it be something nice if there existed a vessel that handled both containerized freight and wheeled machines at the same time? There is a special ship that handles this and it is called a combo ship, which is known as a combination ship. This ship transports containers and heavy machinery. The combo ship maintains deck room in the front to handle containers for an ocean voyage. There is also a ramp on the back of the combo ship for heavy machinery to be driven on and off the vessel. And a few combo ships even have room for breakbulk cargo.
Although not as popular as specialized vessels, it seems that the combo ships are starting to emerge in the industry. Several different carries utilize these ships and maintain routes for them to numerous ports around the globe. The next time you speak to your trusted freight forwarder about shipping heavy machinery, see if a combo ship might be an option. This combo ship can be especially helpful to shippers who transport a vehicle and a container separately.