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What is a Ship Transport?

By Jessica F. Black
Updated May 23, 2024
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Ship transport usually refers to any type of item being transported over a body of water aboard a boat, ship, or other vessel. There are various forms of ship transport cargo, but the most common are passengers, products, or military personnel and equipment. The weight capacity of the largest watercraft has made ship transport ideal for large cargo and quantity. One downfall to this type of transportation is the length of time of delivery, and it is usually not the best method in case of an emergency. The amount of cargo carried is financially beneficial, because this is a relatively less inexpensive form of transport compared to aircraft or train.

There are numerous types of watercraft carriers including cargo ships, tankers, aircraft carriers, cruise ships, and ferries. Each ship has distinct characteristics that may make it easy to identify due to size, design, and visible cargo. The ships differ greatly in appearance, and are usually designed to carry specific cargo.

Cargo ships are extremely long and flat with a control tower towards the front. Large containers, usually the length of a tractor trailer load, carrying a variety of merchandise, are stacked high on top of the ship's surface and are typically lined up to cover the ship's entirety. This type of ship transport is usually used for commerce. Depending on the load, these ships generally have over 25 crew members.

Tankers are also long and flat but generally transport liquid cargo below the surface of the ship. The deck ranges from the front where the control tower is, to the back which is usually bare. Below the surface is a series of tanks carrying a variety of liquids depending on the type of tanker. Oil, petroleum gas, wine, and fresh water are all common cargo and are able to be transported over long distances.

Aircraft carriers are the primary ship transport used by military services and usually carry jets, helicopters, weapons, and military personnel. These ships allow an aircraft to land, refuel, and depart from a body of water. This is significant for deploying military air services around the world and allowing smaller military aircraft to refuel in the middle of the ocean.

Cruise ships are a luxury ship transport used for recreation and usually provide accommodations, activities, and food for passengers. Most of these ships travel to exotic locales and offer a vacation atmosphere. Ferries are also used to accommodate passengers, but are generally a local form of transportation for people and vehicles to get from one local point to another. Coastline towns and cities often offer this form of transportation as an alternative to tunnels or bridges.

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