Dry Cargo Ships Explained: Short Sea Vessels

Short Sea Vessels

Part 3: Short Sea Vessels

Being in the business of servicing all of South Africa’s major ports as part of a respected full-service maritime and offshore procurement company, the Link Ship Chandlers team takes great pride in being masters of our craft. We live and breathe shipping, so when it comes to topics like dry cargo ships, we have plenty to share. To make things a little simple for newbies on the shipping front, we’re discussing each type of dry cargo ship individually over the course of a series of blogs.

In our previous article, we took a look at bulk cargo carriers. Today we continue our journey into the world of dry cargo ships by discussing short-sea vessels:


The term ‘short-sea vessels’ refers to the type of ships that are used on shorter coastal routes or sea trades. In general, these are smaller renditions of deep-sea general cargo ships. Mini bulkers are also sometimes used.

  • Weight: Short sea vessels normally have a deadweight of between 500 and 10 000 tonnes.
  • Spatial modifications: Holds on this type of vessel are normally boxed-shaped to increase cargo space and ease the loading of cargo on pallets, with one hold featuring an open hatch cover for further ease of use. Vessels used in grain trade also normally come equipped with moveable bulkheads. This allows the crew to load a nearly full compartment of cargo, and then make up the unused space by adding slack cargo in the bulkhead without the need for any additional strapping and/or bagging.
  • Mechanical modifications: Most recently, short sea vessel design has been adapted to include superstructures and masts that can be lowered hydraulically so these ships can sail beneath bridges, etc. with ease.

DID YOU KNOW? The most common grains exported by means of shipping are wheat, malt and feed barley, pulses (mainly lentils and beans), corn, sorghum and canola. Humans get an average of 48% of their calories, or food energy, from grains. Grains are also used to feed livestock and to manufacture certain cooking oils, fuels, cosmetics, and alcohols.

Interesting, right? In our next segment on this topic, we’ll take a look at specialised vessels. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with a member of the Link Ship Chandlers team if you would like to learn more about the services we provide from the ports in Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Coega, Durban and Richards Bay.

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