Before the development of air cargo, sea freight was the primary means of international goods transit. The birth and growth of air cargo was a major development for world trade and opened the door to considerably higher levels of import and export for many nations. In the light of recent concerns about the environmental sustainability of air transport however, the justifiability of our current reliance on this mode of cargo movement is in question. The same concerns also apply to the proliferation of road based haulage and it’s sustainability.
It may well therefore be time to reconsider the merits of sea freight in certain circumstances: notably for the transit of goods within Europe:
Given the lower fuel consumption associated with sea freight in comparison to it’s air and land based counterparts: the overall cost is generally lower. Allied with the higher capacity of short sea shipping vessels, the result is a lower cost to the customer when opting for sea freight. As short sea shipping is a ‘door to door’ service, all quoted costs are inclusive of transfers, making it not only more economical but also much simpler to action.
In addition to the cost reducing benefits of sea shipping’s low fuel consumption, this lower level of fossil fuel combustion has a noticeable environmental benefit. Not only do sea-borne shipping vessels use remarkably less fuel than aircraft, but also a good deal less than trucks and lorries. Many providers of short sea shipping aim to use the rail network for land based transit, once again lowering emissions. The resulting reduction in carbon footprint helps clients to adhere to sustainability commitments and push towards carbon neutral operation.
Despite the seemingly meandering pace of short sea shipping vessels in comparison to aircraft and trucks, due to the streamlined port procedures, low traffic and absence of road-works etc, it can regularly turn out to be the fastest means of shipping goods from A to B. Although air freight is obviously considerably faster in terms of the bulk of the journey, the time that containers and pallets spend being processed and then loaded on to trucks soon mounts up and renders this considerably more costly method no quicker overall than the more affordable and eco-friendly sea freight option.
Providing a speedy, low-cost, environmentally aware service: sea freight is not only historically important but as relevant today as it ever was. Its versatility and tremendous application for transit between the UK and mainland Europe, makes it something that all companies associated with import and export should bear in mind ahead of the alternatives.