Types of Ports in the Shipping Industry

Different types of ports in the shipping industry

The maritime industry supervises the smooth functioning of the ports to enhance their efficiency and counter challenges and risks to the shipping industry. Different types of ports in the shipping industry work in sync to enhance the global economy. Ports are carriers of logistic processes and therefore require capital investment, maintenance and security. A well-built port accommodates all sites to monitor and carry out transportation processes separately. With proper construction and functioning, it would become easier to carry out different facets of port operations seamlessly. Let us look at the types of ports and their role in the shipping industry.

Ports and their role in the Shipping Industry

Ports are harbours extending on the shores of water bodies and as a foundation for the shipping lines. Seaports play an active role in connecting countries and boosting the global economy. They initiate merchandise shipping, ensure maintenance and repair of shipping containers, and are sites for custom clearances and permits. A well-built port usually accommodates container terminals and depots to distribute port operations and avoid congestion.

What is the purpose of the Port Authority?

The country-specific authorities are either governed by the government or government-affiliated agencies. The Port Authority is the management body responsible for ensuring navigation in port operations and transportation for a special-purpose district. The authority helps to legally administer the port’s activities and facilities and manage port traffic within the country’s waters. The authority also regulates a disciplined adherence to environmental policies and safety guidelines to maintain vessel integrity.

What is the difference between a port and a terminal?

Ports are large stations promoting trade and commerce by providing platforms for loading or unloading passengers or cargo. A container terminal is a unit in the port that handles intermodal transportation and transshipment of cargo. A port can have one or more terminals. Terminals act as berthing spaces for ships to transfer unloaded containers to other modes of transport for further transit. Allotment of different terminals for different types of vessels is based on the equipment requirements of the cargo containers.

Types of ports in the Shipping Industry

Inland Ports

  • Away from the main coastal seaports, inland ports are small, shallow and well-maintained platforms.
  • They are built on water bodies such as lakes, rivers, or estuaries and may or may not be connected to seaports via a canal system.
  • Inland ports are intermodal hubs for cargo transshipment as they are connected to a network of rails and are close to roads and national highways.
  • Being shallow, they do not allow deep docking but are open to passenger loading and unloading on ferries and performing recreational activities such as fishing.
  • It is a site for processing international trade and providing value-added services such as cargo storing, stocking and dispatch.
  • These ports provide superior logistics services with adequate berthing capacity, quick unloading and moving to intermodal transit. It reduces port congestion and offers quality and smooth services.

Ports for Fishing –

  • Built on inland spaces or seacoasts, these ports are sites for commercial and recreational fishing activities.
  • In addition to performing the fishing activity in a disciplined and organised way, fishing ports enable the loading and unloading of cargo containers with fish and fishery equipment.
  • These ports require extra management as they need to store fresh cargo and prevent it from damage or decay. The inventory is well-moulded to accommodate frozen perishables and sustain their shelf life.
  • Constructed in shallow waters, the port business entirely relies on the availability of fish in the water. Under uncertain conditions, these ports have high chances of getting closed and becoming uneconomical due to scarcity of fish or contaminated water.

Warm-water ports –

  • These are evergreen harbours where the water does not freeze even during the winter season. This type of port in the shipping industry allows the seaports to function dynamically throughout the year.
  • Warm water ports are the most suitable and economic ports that dictate more significant profits from trade activities due to their geographical advantage.
  • Countries having access to warm water ports have an edge in the trade industry. In winter, other ports freeze and become non-operational. The shipping business is saved in these circumstances by warm water ports.

Seaports –

  • Commonly used among all types of ports, these are large full-fledged ports situated along the coastline built to accommodate large and small vessels.
  • They are constructed with fully functional warehouses, container depots and container terminals, which may or may not be automated. They also accommodate restaurants, cafes, and restrooms to provide tourist spaces.
  • Most maritime traffic is generated at seaports, requiring extensive maintenance and security.

The three categories of seaports are –

  1. Ports for cruises – These ports facilitate all cruise ship activities. It provides a platform for passengers to board and debark the ship and aids the voyage by supplying fuel, food, water, and other necessary resources. The cruise home port governs pre-booked and secure voyages to make the journey easier for passengers. The luxury of the passengers is given due consideration.
  2. Mid-way ports – Also known as a port of call, they are temporary stops between the home and destination ports. These small duration halts are utilised for refuelling of sea-vessels. In addition, these ports also provide emergency or urgent repair of ships. The passengers may debark the ship at such ports.
  3. Ports for cargo – Explicitly built for cargo loading and unloading, these ports are cargo-specific as they need to meet the equipment required for handling different types of cargo. Based on the type of shipment being handled, the port can be categorised as a bulk port, container port, all-in-one port. The amenities and equipment available at the ports may differ.

The shipping industry relies heavily on port operations to ensure secure and profitable trade. Based on their utility and offered facilities, these are the four major types of ports in the shipping industry that work in coordination to uplift the global economy.

LOTUS Containers is a leading shipping container company with a global network across 300 container depots. We work to fulfil our client’s needs regarding container leasing, selling and buying.

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