The word cargo refers in particular to goods or produce being conveyed – generally for commercial gain – by ship, boat, or aircraft, although the term is now often extended to cover all types of freight, including that carried by train,van, truck, or intermodal container.

Freight is usually organized into various shipment categories before it is transported. An item’s category is determined by:

  • the type of item being carried. For example, a kettle could fit into the category ‘household goods’.
  • how large the shipment is, in terms of both item size and quantity.
  • how long the item for delivery will be in transit.

Shipments are typically categorized as household goods, express, parcel, and freight shipments.



Freight is used especially when you transport goods by a train or by a truck. The goods become cargo when they are transported by a ship or by a plane.

Cargo and Freight are two terms related to transporting of goods. The term “freight” is used when the volume of goods are loaded on a semi-trailer on a truck or on a semi-trailer on a train. This is the main reason why there is a freight truck and a freight train. The “freight” is also the term used for the payment when the certain goods are transported. However, freight can also mean a cargo being transported via truck, train, plane, and ship. But mail can’t be considered as freight. Freight can refer to many things. It may mean the product, merchandise, amount payable, or money charged. Most cargo being transported can be referred to as freight.

“Cargo,” on the other hand, is usually used when the goods are transported via plane or ship. This is the main reason why there are cargo ships and cargo planes. Mail may also be called cargo. The term “cargo” is used specifically on goods only; it does not mean the payment or the money being charged for the transport. This means any product that is being transported is always called a cargo. Containers are usually used in transporting the goods called cargo.



The categories of cargoes include;

1. Gas Cargo

Gas is one of the more unusual cargoes to move across our oceans. In its raw state, it has none of the free-flowing, easy-to-load properties of liquid cargoes, such as crude oil and grain. So, to make it easier to transport it is converted into that same liquid state by extreme cooling or pressurisation.

The gas itself is normally propane or methane, known as LPG (link to gas in dictionary) and LNG (link to gas in dictionary) respectively and can be used in a variety of applications from environmentally-friendly fuels and refrigerant to propellant in packaged aerosols and in industrial chemical processes.

2. Liquid Bulk Cargo

All of us will have come across liquid bulk cargoes in everyday life in one from or another. From gasoline to fuel our cars, to fruit juices and cooking oil for consumption in the home, it’s difficult to live the lives we live today without them.

These free-flowing liquid cargoes, which also include crude oil, liquefied natural gas and chemicals, are not boxed, bagged or hand stowed. Instead, they are poured into and sucked out of large tank spaces, known as the holds, of a tanker.

3. Dry Bulk Cargo

 From grains to coal and from sugar to cocoa, dry bulk cargoes cover a range of produce and raw materials that have two features in common: they are unpacked and are homogeneous. These two properties make it easier for dry bulk cargoes to be dropped or poured into the hold of a bulk carrier.

As the name suggests, dry bulk cargoes need to be kept dry, any moisture that finds its way into the cargo could ruin the entire load, at considerable cost to the ship owner. It may also be surprising to learn that many dry bulk cargoes are classified as ‘Dangerous Goods’ requiring special attention during loading, transportation and discharge, as they could shift during shipment, causing ship instability.

4. Refrigerated Food Cargo

When we go to the supermarket to buy fresh produce, most of us do not stop to consider where that produce has travelled from. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that less than half the apples sold in major British supermarkets originate from Britain; more likely they have come from European Union states, or even as far a field as New Zealand.

Such fragile and time sensitive cargoes require special transportation that will keep goods at the right temperature to maintain freshness, run to strict schedules to ensure that the produce reaches its final destination in the optimum condition. To meet these demands, special refrigerated cargo ships house temperature-controlled containers suitable for the safe carriage of chilled or frozen cargoes, referred to reefer containers.

A wide range of commodities are shipped under refrigeration, including: fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and frozen meats, poultry, and seafood, dairy products and eggs, fresh juices and frozen concentrates, and live plants and flowers.

 5. Special Purpose Cargo

There are many different types of cargoes shipped around the world, some more unusual than others. While containers, crude oil and dry bulk get the most attention, other cargoes that fall outside of these categories are just as important to daily life.

Over-sized goods, such as a non-motorised barges or road sections, are one such cargo, while heavy cargoes, such as industrial generators and reactors, also require special treatment. Another specialist cargo is livestock, which needs to be transported in comfortable surroundings so that the cattle or sheep reach their final destination undistressed and in optimum condition.

6. Passengers

It is not just commodities that move from A to B by ship: many of us have experienced life at sea as a cargo, simply by taking a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais. With the many safety and quality considerations necessary for carrying passengers, a cargo of people is in fact not so different to the many others of cargoes carried.

Passenger ships need to cater for the demands of people, be that with the provisions of seating, refreshments, entertainment and/or sleeping facilities. For passenger ships on longer journeys, a huge amount of food and fresh water stores need to be on board and there must be proper facilities for the storage of waste water and the massive amount of rubbish generated.

7. Unitised Cargo

Manufactured products and perishable goods come in a variety of shapes and sizes, often with considerable storage constraints. Consequently, these cargoes need to be treated very differently to free-flowing dry bulk cargoes, like grain.

Unitised cargoes can be very diverse, covering forest products, metals and metal goods, machines, electronics, food chemicals, raw materials, and investment and consumer goods, among others.



Reference: Marine Soft tech.

For more information on cargoes, you can use the ‘ask a question page’.

Published by Admin

A team of Educationist from various fields of study, with a great desire to help students with Academic work, and also offer consultancy services in the areas of Education.

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