Feeder Ships

When you are shipping international containers, there are usually multiple vessels or ships responsible for the transportation of your containers. Many times shippers often neglect that fact and assume that their container gets taken by stevedores onto one ship only, which takes the container from one port to the other. Although there is usually one vessel that transports your freight across the ocean, there are also smaller vessels that help with the process. They are commonly referred to as feeder ships.

Larger ships that transport freight across the ocean can carry thousands of 20-foot containers, with the average large ship holding 10,000 of these containers. Feeder ships can only hold about 300-500 standard size containers. The objective of the feeder ship is to transport the containers to and from the ports and terminals to the larger ships that carry them out across the ocean. Thus, feeder ships are involved with both import and export shipments. In addition to bringing or taking containers away from the larger vessels, the feeder ships may also conduct short sea shipping since their smaller size allows them to pass through inland waterways. Examples of short sea shipping include freight moved by rivers at nearby cities in the US, or in Europe where short sea shipping comprises 40% of all freight movement there.

Although it may not seem that way, but feeder ships actually save time and money in container shipping by allowing the larger ships to focus solely on transporting their massive cargo across the ocean. Thus, feeder ships are an important part of the freight process.