What are the Cargo Vessels?
Cargoes vary in nature as much as the vessels carrying them. The nature of cargoes has, in some ways, changed little over the past hundred years or so, although various commodities and products have changed significantly over the passage of time, along with the need to package and carry them correctly, speedily and efficiently. The sheer demand, and indeed the insatiable desire of the world, for consumer goods, has resulted in the need to transport huge quantities of goods worldwide on a cost-effective basis, using the most up-to-date means available. Maritime cargo vessels vary in their nature according to the kind of cargoes they carry, as well as the volume of cargo transported. Before the era of containerisation, the most cargo was carried by general cargo vessels, equipped with their own cranes capable of loading and unloading cargoes at most docksides and without the need for specialist cranes mounted on it. This form of cargo carriage remained standard practice until the 1960s when sea freight containers became a more efficient form of cargo transportation. The function of the general cargo vessel was that it could transport, load and unload freight of a variety of shapes, sizes and volumes and sail to any part of the world, either on regular ‘liner’ sailings or as a ‘tramp’ vessel, transporting cargoes when and where required. All cargoes were packed and stowed in the vessel’s holds, and inevitably the process of loading and unloading was time-consuming and laborious once the vessel was berthed alongside the quay. General cargo vessels still exist and have an important part to play in the international maritime carriage of goods, but their role is somewhat more limited in the present day, partly because of their size and function, and partly because of the heavy demands placed on the carriage of goods because of the container system. However, their onboard cranes and derricks enable them to serve international seaports that other vessels, such as huge container vessels, cannot, and this enables them to serve more niche maritime markets. They are also able to carry more specialist maritime loads, especially cargoes that may be considered too voluminous for other carriers, and that require specific forms of transportation.