Short Sea Shipping

Short Sea Shipping is Simply defined as as the movement of cargo by sea without directly crossing an ocean. It can also be referred to as Coastal Shipping. Short Sea Shipping also involves Domestic fleets doing coastal or inland trade.

Short sea shipping is not restricted to short distances. For instance, according to the European definition, it refers to coastal transportation linking the European ports with adjacent countries (including the entire Mediterranean Basin: shipping from Gothenburg to Istanbul is thus considered to be short sea shipping).

Short sea transport makes use of various mode of transport. The most used combination is a short sea vessel with a truck. Other possibilities are short sea shipping with rail and inland shipping.

KEY POINTS: Short Sea System may varies by Countries.


Short sea shipping is divided into very different types of flows using different techniques:

  1. Transportation of bulk cargo: Particularly for crude and refined petroleum products.
  2. General cargo: This is split into two main transportation techniques, which are; Lo-Lo and Ro-Ro.

a. Lo-Lo (load on – load off):  Involves vertical handling for the loading and unloading of ships and thus concerns containers.

b. Ro-Ro (roll on – roll off):  Involves horizontal handling for the loading and unloading of road trailers or complete lorry-trailer combinations onto and off ferries via ramps.

 Lo-Lo forms a link between the intercontinental and intra-continental transportation of maritime containers (which are used for an increasingly wide range of products).


For more information on Short Sea Shipping, visit the ‘ask a question’ page .

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