Containerized shipping is rightfully credited with spurring globalization by adding speed and reliability to international freight transportation. But a new report by Netherlands-based Dynamar makes a good case in support of breakbulk shipping's role in the process.
Dirk Visser, managing editor of Dynaliners and senior liner shipping consultant at Dynamar, notes that breakbulk shipping has evolved over the last decade from an aging fleet of 1970s and 1980s-vintage conventional freighters into one dominated by modern, efficient ships with large rectangular holds and gear for lifting heavy loads.
Visser says we shouldn't forget that the development of industries in China and other emerging economies has been aided by breakbulk vessels transporting project shipments and other equipment too big to fit in containers.
Dynamar's report, "Breakbulk: Operators, Fleets, Markets," notes that just a few years ago, 50-ton-capacity gear qualified a ship as heavy-lift but that now the threshold is about 250 tons. The report notes that the top 25 breakbulk operators now have 40-plus ships that can handle 500-750-ton loads, but the carriers' orderbooks include 115 vessels lifting with capacities of 500 to 1,400 tons.