Maritime Directory

Liner Shipping

Liner shipping is the service of transporting goods by means of high-capacity, ocean-going ships that transit regular routes on fixed schedules. Liner vessels, primarily in the form of containerships and roll-on/roll-off ships, carry about 60 percent of the goods by value moved internationally by sea each year. Liner shipping is the most efficient mode of transportation of goods. In one year, a single large containership could carry over 200,000 container loads of cargo. While individual ships vary in size and carrying capacity, many container ships can transport up to 8,000 containers of finished goods and products on a single voyage. Similarly, on a single voyage, some car carrier ships can handle 7,600 cars. It would require hundreds of freight aircraft, many miles of rail cars, and fleets of trucks to carry the goods that can fit on one large liner ship. The container made shipping cheap and changed the shape of the world economy. Consumers enjoy infinitely more choices thanks to the global trade the container has stimulated. The ready availability of inexpensive imported consumer goods has boosted living standards around the world.

  • Containerships have the capacity to carry several large warehouses worth of goods on a single journey.

  • If all the containers from an 11,000 TEU ship were loaded onto a train, it would need to be 44 miles or 77 kilometers long.

  • In an average year, a large container ship travels three-quarters of the distance to the moon. That means in its lifetime it travels to the moon and back nearly ten times.

  • The cost to transport a bicycle from Thailand to the UK in a container is about US$10. The typical cost for shipping a DVD/CD player from Asia to Europe or the U.S. is roughly US$1.50; a kilogram of coffee just fifteen cents, and a can of beer - a penny.

  • It is estimated that on average a container ship emits around 40 times less CO2 than a large freight aircraft and over three times less than a heavy truck.

  • Container ships are technologically advanced. A good example is the computer software that enables precise planning for the loading and unloading of containers and keeps the vessel balanced by increasing and decreasing ballast at the touch of a button.

  • Container shipping is estimated to be two and a half times more energy efficient than rail and 7 times more so than road.

To learn more about liner shipping visit www.worldshipping.org/