For anyone sending cargo internationally, it is well known that ocean freight shipping is an option that offers shippers transportation services at an economical price point. As one of the oldest options for freight transportation, it's also one of the most available since oceans and waterways cover most of our planet. But with alternative options, such as air, road and rail transportation, why should a shipper consider ocean transport?
Hands down, the ocean shipping industry offers the most competitive freight costs to shippers, especially over long distances. By comparison, some estimates show that ocean freight shipping costs are generally four to six times less expensive than air. With statistics like this one, it is easy to argue that ocean transportation is the cheapest international shipping option.
No matter the size of your shipments, sea freight companies can usually accommodate your needs. Smaller shipments can be grouped together with other cargo to fill a container, allowing for cost-sharing of the transportation services. Larger cargo can fill one or more containers, offering shippers unmatched bulk options. In fact, vessels are the ideal way to move high volumes of cargo as they are designed to carry large amounts of goods or raw materials.
A major advantage of sea freight shipping is shipping companies' ability to handle oversized, heavy or bulky cargo – often referred to as breakbulk or Not in Trailer (NIT) loads. Such cargo could include large vehicles, equipment, construction materials and more. Oftentimes too heavy or large for air freight or even over-the-road transportation, very large cargo is not a problem on many shipping vessels.
Ships are designed to carry hazardous materials and dangerous cargo safely. The industry is well-versed in the handling of such goods and has regulations in place to ensure the safety of the vessel, crew, cargo and environment. Cargo loss caused by incidents during transportation is continually dropping as maritime safety increases, and has dropped significantly in the past decade. Containers are designed to be sealed and locked during transportation for extra security.
When compared to sea shipping, air and many other forms of transportation have much higher carbon footprints – a definite disadvantage for the environment. Ships, on the other hand, provide the most carbon-efficient mode of transportation and produce fewer grams of exhaust gas emissions for each ton of cargo transported than any other shipment method. These already-low emissions continue to trend downward as technology advances, new ships come online and as liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered options are utilized.