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Ocean freight is the most popular method for transporting goods internationally. It involves moving large volumes of items along global trade routes on bulk carrier ships. Approximately 90% of products are shipped on ocean liners.

If your business is considering expanding to the international marketplace or adjusting its transportation strategy, consider the benefits of ocean freight.

Types of Sea Transport

There are several advantages and disadvantages to ocean transport. However, it’s important to understand the different ocean shipping options before you consider the benefits. Sea freight is categorized as:

Full container load (FCL)

FCL shipping is where the shipper pays for one or several containers to transport their goods. FCL shipping doesn’t involve consolidation or deconsolidation. This can make the shipment cheaper, faster, and may reduce the risk of product damage. It is also more secure and lowers the risk of theft and product tampering.

Less than container load (LCL)

LCL shipping is for cargo loads that are too small for 20 or 40-foot containers. Shipping companies combine multiple loads from various shippers to create a consolidated shipment. A key advantage of LCL shipping is that you only pay for the volume of goods you’re shipping. It is an ideal way for smaller companies to take advantage of competitive freight rates.

Roll on roll off (RORO)

This is where wheeled vehicles (cars, semi-trucks, and other passenger vehicles) are rolled on and off cargo ships instead of loading and unloading them in containers.

Dry bulk

Dry bulk goods, such as coal or grain, aren’t usually shipped in containers. Instead, dry bulk items are placed in a ship’s cargo hold during maritime transport.

Break bulk

The ship’s hold isn’t just used for dry bulk goods. It also stores heavy-duty, bulky items that don’t fit efficiently into intermodal containers. Products such as steel girders or other large fabricated items must be kept in the ship’s hold for long distances to protect them from potential damage.

Ocean Transportation Advantages

When weighing up shipping options for your supply chain, consider the following advantages of ocean freight shipping.


Ocean freight is a low-cost mode of transportation in the shipping industry. It is a cost-effective approach to international logistics that is far more economical than other popular transport methods, like air freight.

According to the World Bank, air freight is between 12 and 16 times more expensive than ocean transport. While ocean transport is slower than air freight, it represents exceptional value for high volume distribution.

Advantages of Ocean Freight Shipping

Larger volumes

A 40-foot ocean container can hold approximately 33 cubic meters of goods. This equates to around 10,000 bottles of beer or the entire contents of a three-bedroom family home. Depending on the materials and structural integrity of the container, a 40-foot unit can hold 60,000 lbs. or more. Ocean liners can transport virtually all types of products.

The term TEU stands for twenty-foot equivalent unit. It is the term used to describe the capacity of container ships and terminals. The number assigned to a vessel represents the quantity of containers the ship can hold on or below the deck. Depending on the size of the ship, the capacity can vary.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the largest carriers can hold 20,000 containers or more. However, it’s common to find cargo vessels with 10,000 TEUs. No matter the size of your shipment, an ocean liner should be more than capable of meeting your volume demands.

Excellent option for bulky goods

Due to the sheer size of ocean liners, they can carry heavy and bulky goods at a relatively low cost. Aircraft are limited in the type of goods they can carry, especially when it comes to large, awkward, and heavy items. Transporting large steel bars or vehicles from China to the U.S. via airplane would be impractical and expensive.

Environmentally friendly

Modern shippers are placing more emphasis on their environmental impact. Ocean shipping is one of the most eco-friendly modes of transportation. To reduce their carbon footprint, multinational organizations prefer to use ocean freight as their primary mode of transport.

Can be used to transport hazardous goods

Certain hazardous materials, such as lithium batteries, are strictly regulated for air transport. Ocean freight companies are designed to transport hazardous materials safely. Cargo ships and crews are trained and accustomed to working with hazardous materials, helping mitigate maritime disasters. They use specially designed cargo containers that remain sealed and locked during transport.

Work With a Reliable Freight Forwarding Service

Whether you’re a fulfillment by Amazon seller or need help with international distribution, work alongside a reliable freight forwarder, like Asiana USA. As a world-class shipping company, we can help simplify the process and create an affordable distribution strategy.

For a free quote or more information on our services, call us today at (855) 500-1808.

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