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Guide to Container Ships Part 1

When we work as a customs broker shipping from China, we use two transportation methods. Ocean freight for very large shipments and air freight for faster arrival times. Container ships are unbelievably large and specific to the industry.

We at JC Logistics as customs brokers and global shipping experts want you to feel as comfortable as possible with your order. We created this guide to container ships so you know more about your transaction. Learn more about these marine giants below.

What Do Container Ships Carry?

The short answer is, whatever needs to be transported. In the armed forces, this can mean trucks, soldiers, and even planes all on one ship. In the global shipping industry, it means commercial goods. These goods are packed in shipping containers called TEU's.

A TEU is a 20 foot long, 8-foot tall metal container that can fit approximately 1,360 cubic feet of product inside. The containers are so big, that some eco-friendly people repurpose retired containers into houses.

Ships are measured by the amount of these containers they can carry. Smaller container ships carry around 1,500 TEU while the biggest ship on the seas carries up to 19,000+. If each container was full, that would be two million five hundred thousand cubic feet of product!

Now that you know what's on the ships, let's look at the vessels themselves.

Container Ships

There are five main categories of container ships used in global shipping transport.

  • Panamax

  • Post-Panamax

  • Suez-Max Ultra Large

  • Post-Suez-Max

  • Post-Malacca-Max

Each of these types of ships vary in construction, the age of design, and the capacity it can carry. The smallest one on the list is the Panamax, designed back in the 1980's. In the interest of time, we'll explore the first two types below. Check back later to learn about the following ships’ bigger cousins.

The Panamax

Panamax ships can pass through the Panama Canal and hold 4,500-5,000 TEU-which was a lot for their debut in 1980. Panamax global shipping vessels can be up to 965 feet long, and a Panamax ship with 5,000 full TEU can carry 660,000 cubic feet of product.

Post Panamax

The Panamax ships ruled the seas from 1980 until 1996, when the post-Panamax ships were introduced. These ships hold up to 8,700 TEU - a 3,000 TEU increase from the Panamax styles.

As time went on, the TEU of these ships increased up to a 10,000 container limit. These ships have a 94,000 horsepower engine, pulling a speed of 25.8 knots. The largest Post-Panamax ship to date was a special order by Cosco and can hold 12,500 TEU. With this ship, Cosco can transport orders of up to 1,500,000 cubic feet!

Your Order, Contained

By using our global shipping and customs forwarder services, you don't need to worry about ship types or capacities. We'll handle all that for you. Are you trying to get an order shipped from China to the US? Contact us today to see how we can help!

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