Ship Types Explained: RoRo Designs & Types

RoRo Cargo Ship

RoRo Ship

Welcome back! If you’ve been following our most recent blogs, you’ll know that we’re nose-deep in a great series on ship types. At Link Ship Chandlers, we ply our trade as expert chandlers to ships and vessels that dock in Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Coega, Durban and Richards Bay, which means we’re all about that shipping life.

However, we also understand that not everyone has such a solid understanding of the difference between cargo vessels and tankers, for instance. This is why we’ve been breaking it down into nice concise introduction pieces that provide an informational snapshot of some of the most commonly occurring ships and vessels.

Today we continue our journey with a focus on RoRo ships. Here you go!


The term ‘RoRo’ actually refers to a type of vessel called a ‘roll-on/roll-off ship’. These are tailored to carry cargo that has wheels, and, as such, can be driven or wheeled onto the ship, i.e. cars, trucks, trailers, train cars, etc. To facilitate this process, these ships have ramps that are situated either on the bow or the stern. Some RoRo ships have ramps at either end. They come in all kinds of sizes, from small ferries that carry a few cars, to large commercial ships that can carry up to 8000 vehicles at a time.

DID YOU KNOW? The Golden Gate Ferry is one of the most popular in the world. It runs from Larkspur to Sausalito and includes views of Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Alcatraz and Treasure Islands, Tiberon, and the striking San Francisco skyline.

Some of the most common RoRo types include:

  • PCC or PCTC. Pure Car Carriers or Pure Car/Truck Carriers are very easy to identify. It has large, box-like structures that fully enclose the entire length and breadth of the hull to protect its cargo.
  • ROPAX. These ships can carry both vehicles and passengers. The abbreviation combines ‘roll on’ and ‘pax’ (i.e. passengers).
  • ConRO. This is a combination of a container ship and a RoRo. Normally the vehicles are stowed belowdecks with containers stacked above.
  • RoLo. A ‘roll on, lift-off’ ship is another hybrid. I had ramps for vehicles to be driven on and off, as well as decks that are only accessible by crane to stow other types of cargo.

There you have it – RoRo ships in a nutshell. Now you know! Check back soon for some short and sweet introductions to all kinds of awesome 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 South African ports.

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