Sea freight

Sea freight

Equivalent to maritime freight

What is sea freight?

When dealing with the transport of goods, (or maritime freight) defines the various solutions in place for shipping goods across seas or oceans. The solutions provided are of several kinds depending on the goods transported: raw energy materials (crude oil, gas, mineral ores), basic foodstuffs, metals, etc. This freight is transported in boats specific to each product type. The different boats chartered are LNG carriers, fuel tankers, cereal carriers, chemical tankers, oil tankers, ships, etc. There are also refrigerated boats (or refrigerated container carriers) that transport foodstuffs in controlled temperatures (fruit, meat, fish, etc.) to avoid their degradation or boost maturing.

is also the solution chosen for the transport of manufactured goods. All market sectors are concerned, as these goods often originate from “factory countries”, such as China, India or Indonesia. They have been transported in containers for decades now. These containers are now standardized, in line with the handling and norms for lifting devices present in sea ports. The goods present inside the containers are perfectly preserved from humidity and any handling operations that could potentially damage them. Generalizing this type of container vastly increased massive . Standardizing containers also led to standardizing the design of large-size cargo container carriers.

Specificities of sea freight 

  • Loaders never come into contact with the maritime company: they deal with “shipping forwarder” intermediaries.

  • The purpose of is to transport goods by sea, yet the companies offering this service are also capable of handling pre- and post-shipping.

  • The sea routes taken are most often specific to the material or type of good transported: North-South axis for oil and gas (from the Middle-East and Africa); East-West and sometimes West-East for cereals and mineral ores originating from Brazil, Argentina or Ukraine.

  • The increase in transport capacity for cargo has reduced unit costs. prices have been in free-fall for many years now.

  • The busiest ports in the world receive hydrocarbon products, solid bulk products and various other types of goods.

  • The smallest ports (used for coastal navigation) receive reduced volumes of goods, and boats with low tonnage.

  • Rates are calculated based on a number of paying units (PU), that depend on the weight - in tons - in favor of the transporter. Example: for 7 tons in weight and a volume of 10 m3, the invoiced rate will be 10 PU.

  • Load insurance is absolutely , given the risks inherent to .

Examples and practical applications

Maritime transport means

  • Two types of transport share the market: Demand Responsive Transport, known as tramping, and liner transportation. Example: oil or cereal traffic is governed by demand responsive transport.

  • The growing number of manufactured good exchanges and their costs require for flows to be calculated according to demand. Hence the idea of increasing delivery frequency.

  • In such cases, liner transportation presents the best advantages, as its itineraries are fixed and its destinations already defined.

  • Hence the generalization of container transportation, that authorizes more deliveries over the course of a year.

Sea freight in figures

  • In 2018, 142 ports worldwide handled over a million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit).

  • Annual growth of 5% for 673,741,200 TEU.

  • Over 11 billion tons of merchandise were exchanged via maritime routes in 2018.


Regulatory cornerstones for sea freight

  • Since 1 January 2019, new transport standards for dangerous goods (ADR-RID-ADN / IMDG / IATA OACI) have been implemented.

  • .

  • Ocean that defines all the data pertaining to .

  • Article 1690 of the Civil Code.

  • International public law.

  • The 1982 Montego Bay international convention.