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Archive for July 29th, 2012

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Coming home from the Working Harbor Committee Walking tour of the Kill Van Kull yesterday, while onboard the Staten Island Ferry, one of the tour goers pointed out a gargantuan ship passing by and asked me about it. While neither of the ships pictured above and below are that exact vessel, they are of the same class and function. Automobile carriers, they are known to the maritime trade as “Ro-Ro” or “Roll on Roll off” cargo ships, which we’ll be taking a look at this “Maritime Sunday”.

from wikipedia

Since 1970 the market for exporting and importing cars has increased dramatically and the number and type of RO/ROs has increased also. In 1973, Japan’s K Line built European Highway, the first pure car carrier (PCC), which carried 4,200 automobiles. Today’s pure car carriers and their close cousins, the pure car/truck carrier (PCTC) are distinctive ships with a box-like superstructure running the entire length and breadth of the hull, fully enclosing the cargo. They typically have a stern ramp and a side ramp for dual loading of thousands of vehicles (as cars trucks, heavy machineries, tracked units, Mafi trailers, loose statics), and extensive automatic fire control systems.

The PCTC has liftable decks to increase vertical clearance as well as heavier decks for “high and heavy” cargo. A 6500 unit car ship with 12 decks can have three decks which can take cargo up to 150 short tons (136 t; 134 long tons) with liftable panels to increase clearance from 1.7 to 6.7 m (5 ft 7 in to 21 ft 10 in) on some decks. Lifting decks to accommodate higher cargo reduces the total capacity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One often spots these gargantua moving slowly about the harbor, most often escorted by at least two tugs. Despite their ungainly appearance, the ships are a great deal more stable than they would appear, or so I am told. Researching this post, tales of Ro Ro ships listing as much as 80 degrees in heavy seas without capsizing have emerged. The economic advantages offered by these vessels, however, far outweigh their risks.


EUKOR operates a large and modern fleet of specialized Pure Car and Truck Carriers (PCTC), embracing some of the largest vessels in the world – annually transporting around 3 million cars worldwide, utilizing a global network of offices and agents.

Through continuous expansion of our route network, minimization of transit times, utmost attention to cargo-handling quality and a strong dedication to cost savings for our customers, we strive towards delivering total customer satisfaction. Ultimately, we aim to achieve our vision of becoming the best shipping company for the global automotive industry.

We combine the best of what Korea and Europe have to offer. Having Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors as shareholders (20%) gives us a unique growth platform within the industry. Add to that the shareholdings of Norwegian shipping company Wilh.Wilhelmsen (40%) with shipping experience dating back to 1861 and leading Swedish shipping group Wallenius Lines (40%)- founded in 1934 and pioneers in car carrier operations since the 1950′s -and we have created a company of world class competencies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ro Ro’s, it seems, allow vehicles to be driven onto the ship and then back off at their port of destination. This creates a series of efficiencies when delivering automobiles. Time spent at dock is anathema to shipping companies, and the name of the game is to discharge and acquire new cargo in as efficient and expedient fashion as possible. Expediting such matters, and finding solutions to the never ending flow of goods through the port, is what has made New York the 2nd largest port in the United States (although the secondary ranking is something which officials at the Port Authority will argue against, claiming factual rather than statistical primacy over the currently ranked #1 in California).

This is less of a link than a crib from emails which have been passed around recently by members of the Working Harbor Committee. The source of the information is undoubtedly “official” but I can’t tell you it’s origin.

What actually transpires at The Port of New York/New Jersey:

  • Total estimated value of cargo-$176 Billion (2011)
  • 6.752 deep draft commercial ship arrivals (over 18/day)
  • 1st in nation for petroleum product movement
  • 1st in nation for domestic/foreign imports combined
  • 3rd largest U.S. port for containerized cargo
  • 3rd largest Passenger Ferry service in the world
  • 3rd largest Cruise Ship port in the U.S.

In 2011, transported:

  • 85 million tons of general and bulk cargo
  • 5.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units of containerized cargo (15,058 containers per day)
  • 561,965 vehicles
  • Distributed to 89-90 million consumers in a 10- contiguous state area (35% of U.S. population
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