What is maritime transport?

What Does Transporte Marítimo Mean

We explain what maritime transport is, its advantages, disadvantages and types that exist. Also, the documentation it requires.

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The maritime transport of passengers is usually tourist or recreational.

What is maritime transport?

Maritime transport is a form of water transport that moves across the surface of the oceans . It is linked to ships and the movement of passengers and merchandise from one continental region to another.

This is the most widely used mode of transport for goods throughout the world , which is itself international in nature. It is also the transport that allows the greatest movement of goods over long distances (up to 500,000 deadweight tons on ULCC oil tankers).

On the contrary, its importance in the movement of passengers has decreased since the invention and massification of air transport, which is much faster. In this area, it is sustained only on short crossings or in the case of cruises and other tourist maritime trips.

On the other hand, the maritime transport of a country is usually handled by the merchant marine, a collegiate body recognized worldwide by the International Maritime Organization. It is a highly qualified organization for the management of cargo or passenger vessels, both in international trips and in cabotage.

See also:

  • Freight transport
  • Railway transport
  • Multimodal transport

History of maritime transport

Shipping was probably the oldest version of trade known to mankind . This is because it was put into practice by ancient civilizations that arose on the shores of rivers and seas .

For example, the Phoenicians emerged around 1200 BC. C., were skilled navigators and maritime merchants, who expanded their area of influence to the African region and the Middle Eastern Mediterranean, eventually coming into conflict with the interests of Ancient Rome.

But the real explosion of maritime transport took place under the colonialist and imperialist model of Europe . During the 15th to the 19th centuries, the European powers used this type of transport to create colonies for the extraction of resources that were negotiated with the metropolis, on terms always favorable to it.

This is how international naval exploration and trade initiatives arose, such as the East Indies Company, among others. This was the prelude to modern maritime transport, created under the model of the 19th century steamship, the result of the enormous technological changes of the Industrial Revolution . The arrival of the motor brought more powerful ships , which did not depend on the wind or the oar.

It can serve you: International trade

Types of maritime transport

Maritime transport is classified according to two different regimes, depending on the amount of merchandise to be transported. These regimes are:

  • Charter regime. It deals with the traffic of merchandise in large volumes , especially in the areas of solid bulks (that is, solid materials in small grains, such as minerals, cereals, etc.) or liquid bulks (measurable liquid materials, such as oil ), or even industrial products in large numbers of units (such as whole cars or even entire manufacturing plants).
  • Regular line scheme. It deals with the transport of general cargo in containers, generally consisting of valuable merchandise, of delicate transport or more delicate than the previous item. These trips make frequent stops, stable rates and services long term.

In another vein, within maritime transport activities such as water skiing, rescue transport or recreational navigation (yachts, for example) could also be considered.

Advantages of maritime transport

Maritime transport allows huge shipments to be moved.

The great advantage of maritime transport is clearly the volume of the cargo . Whether it is merchandise or passengers, ships allow their massive transfer, in facilities of a different nature.

This generally implies high safety margins , since maritime transactions are accompanied by legal and logistical documentation (the ship's manifest , for example). All transactions are standardized and supervised by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), attached to the United Nations .

Disadvantages of maritime transport

Generally speaking, the downsides of shipping involve time . Ships are bulky, heavy and slow artifacts , which also require specialized knowledge to operate : this is why merchant seafarers undergo specialized training , equivalent in many ways to a full university study.

Maritime transport documents

The documentation required to establish commercial shipping typically includes the following:

  • Bill of Landing (BL). It is the transport contract established between the shipping company and the owner of the cargo. It is a document issued by the shipping company in confirmation of the receipt of the cargo on board their ships.
  • Packing List. It is a detailed list of the goods shipped, detailing weight, composition, volume, value and other important details.
  • Commercial invoice. The document that proves the purchase of the transport services or the goods transported directly. It is about the commercial support of the operation.
  • Certificate of origin. A certification of the manufacture of the goods transported in a specific country, which is essential in terms of tariffs or taxes .
  • Letter of credit. The formal payment agreement between buyer and seller, in those cases in which it is an international sale transaction.

Ground transportation

If maritime transport takes place in the sea and the oceans, land transport is that which takes place on land , that is, on the continental surface. This requires land vehicles equipped with wheels (trucks, cars, etc.) or running on rails (such as railways).

Depending on the type of land transport, the load capacity or speed may be greater. However, in all cases this transport is subject to the geographical features of the earth's crust , as well as rivers, oceans and lakes.

More in: Ground transportation

Air Transport

Air transport is one that uses vehicles capable of flying through the air , that is, flying. These vehicles are airplanes, light aircraft and similar transports. It is the most recent of the forms of transport, the most expensive and the one that involves the most cutting -edge technology .

Air transport is mainly intended for passenger transport . However, there are bulky aircraft specialized for the movement of cargo.


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