About Container Ships 

These Huge Ships Deliver Cargo Throughout The World

Container ships are the 'workhorse' of the sea, they carry about 90% of international cargo from port to port in many countries of the world.


The newer 'ships' are absolutely huge measuring nearly 400 metres or 1300ft long and nearly 60 metres or 195ft wide and they are only going to get bigger, if it is possible.

Using these huge ships to move cargo is very efficient because they use standard size shipping containers which are mostly 20 and 40 foot that can be loaded very quickly.


The loading and unloading of containers is controlled by a computer program that knows the contents, weight, destination of every container so that they are placed in the appropriate place on the ship.

The weight must be distributed evenly, the heavier containers are placed in first, the containers are grouped together if they are going to several different ports. 

'A loaded ship on its way to the
port to unload the shipping containers'

container ship ocean

 At each port some cargo will be removed, some will stay on till the next port and some more containers will be added, so it is a very complex job that must be done quickly and efficiently.


  • The standardization of shipping container sizes has been around for several decades.
  • The 'ships efficiency' has improved with technology when loading and unloading at ports.
  • Loading and unloading can be done in about 2 hours.
  • After unloading the cargo is checked by customs then the container maybe taken to a distrbution centre or forwarded to its final destination.


There is over 6000 container ships being used by about 400 shipping companies like Maersk, MSC, Evergreen, NYK, K Line, Triton, CSCL, and Hanjin. 

Over the past fifty years the size and design of ships has changed dramatically

Seven important things to do when a 'ship' is being loaded with containers.

All about how shipping containers are organised, loaded and secured on a ship.

'About life' on the 'Maersk Kendal' ship by Capt. Glenn Wostenholme

Video of 'ship' accidents at sea  



 'Shipping port for loading and unloading cargo.
The cranes are used to pick up and position shipping containers'

port shipping containers ships


Largest Container Ships and Ports

Which is the largest 'ship' keeps changing once a year or maybe several times a year as Wikipedia shows on this list.

The size of a ship is measured by how many TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) can be loaded on to the ship - which is a 20 foot standard size shipping container measuring 20 ft long × 8 ft wide × 9 ft high.

This list shows the biggest shipping companies in the world, you have probably seen some of their 'containers' with brand names on them like Evergreen, Cosco, Hanjin and NYK.

This list from the World Shipping Council shows the top fifty ports in the world

There are thousands of shipping ports in the world, the largest ports are in China. 

View the top 50 ports with an interactive map including photos of each port.



This ship is carrying 16 containers across which makes it about 128 feet wide

The biggest ships are 194 feet wide so they may be able to have 24 containers across

Wouldn't it be interesting having a travelling vacation on a cargo ship?

loaded shipping container ship

Container Ship Travel

Anyone can travel on a 'container ship' or 'freighter' just like you can on a cruise ship, it is cheaper, very basic and without the crowds but still an interesting unique adventure.

There is usually only a few cabins available to travellers so there maybe 2 to 6 extra people on board plus about 15 - 20 crew and the captain.

This couple wanted to travel for a year without getting on an airplane so they tried a Cargo ship adventure and loved it.

Freighter Expeditions are an Australian company that organise cargo/freighter trips, they have an information page and then click on the link at the bottom of the page to read messages from other travellers.

Maritime Cruises organise cargo cruises to just about anywhere including an 'Around the World' trip of course it is usually best to start with a shorter journey.






Return to the top of this page   Container Ships

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Click the ebook to discover about building 'Our Container House'

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