Breakbulk

Breakbulk

Breakbulk and its glamorous subset, project cargo, remain a dynamic shipping segment, and the multipurpose and heavylift (MPV/HL) carriers that serve it are just beginning to recover from chronic overcapacity and a decade of doldrums.

Breakbulk cargo has been defined as ‘whatever is left over’ after the bulk and container ships are full. While the shift of commodities such as cotton and coffee from breakbulk into containers has largely run its course, other breakbulk and project cargos continue to move on MPV/HL vessels. Not every shipment of breakbulk cargo involves a complex mega-project or thousands of freight tons that require full charters and heavy-lift capacity. Many of these movements are very complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment. Project cargo shippers often work closely with carriers’ engineering teams to create transport plans.Simple breakbulk cargoes can often shift shipping modes fairly seamlessly. Steel, for example, flows from breakbulk to bulk carriers to, for some forms of steel, roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) and container transport. The preferred mode will depend on volumes, prices, schedules and demand. Container and ro-ro services offers shippers fixed schedules, predictable routes and prices, and more commoditized handling, simplifying the equation – but only when it makes sense for the cargo.

News & Analysis

28 Nov 2022
US-based MPV operator Intermarine is expanding into Asia and Europe via a partnership with Thailand’s WeShip.
09 Nov 2016
The first of two long-range supply ships based on a hybrid EcoBox design for offshore installation work was launched by a German shipyard.
09 Nov 2016
Things could be better, but they also could be a lot worse for breakbulk and project cargo shipping in US Gulf ports.
09 Nov 2016
Rickmers Maritime Trust cancelled Wednesday’s scheduled meeting of bondholders that was due to vote on a restructuring plan.
09 Nov 2016
Inbesa America Inc., which operates a large private breakbulk steel terminal at Jacintoport in the Port of Houston, has been acquired by Contanda Steel LLC for an undisclosed price.
08 Nov 2016
Netherlands-based Concordia Group has delivered the first of two specialized roll-on, roll-off ships that have been undergoing conversion to carry wind energy components.
03 Nov 2016
A liquefied natural gas heat exchanger weighing nearly 500 tons was exported via Port Manatee, Florida.
01 Nov 2016
A company has successfully tested a hybrid container designed to make it easier to move breakbulk and oversized cargo.
31 Oct 2016
Rickmers Maritime Trust plunged to a net loss in the third quarter from a profit a year earlier.
20 Oct 2016
SAL Heavy Lift has won a contract from the Dutch offshore construction company Van Oord.
19 Oct 2016
Breakbulk and bulk cargo operators Gearbulk and Grieg Star have agreed to form a Norway-based joint venture.
19 Oct 2016
The competition to develop much-needed modern port facilities in Bangladesh has intensified.
18 Oct 2016
Jacksonville port officials have been working to attract project and breakbulk cargo business to the heavy-lift dock at the port’s Blount Island Marine Terminal.
18 Oct 2016
The group has disposed of its entire 34.2 percent stake.
16 Oct 2016
Deepwater Wind’s $300 million, 30 MW project three miles off Block Island, Rhode Island, is small compared with big onshore and offshore projects at other locations, but it’s seen as a breakthrough for the US market.
15 Oct 2016
Deliveries of ship-to-shore container gantry cranes, which are transported by specialized heavy-lift vessels, rose slightly in 2015.
13 Oct 2016
Cargo volume through US ports on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway was down through September.
11 Oct 2016
Construction is scheduled to start by the end of 2017 on Porto Central.
11 Oct 2016
The struggling multipurpose shipping sector shouldn’t count on a rebound in container and dry-bulk rates for a quick return to profitability.
11 Oct 2016
Steel is the world’s most important industrial material and has direct and indirect impact on breakbulk volumes.
11 Oct 2016
The collapse of Hanjin Shipping has underscored the increasingly high stakes in the project cargo and breakbulk business, which can be risky even in the best of times.
10 Oct 2016
Ports from Miami to Hampton Roads resumed cargo operations Monday.
07 Oct 2016
Vietnam is planning a major new port facility to alleviate congestion at the Da Nang Port complex.
07 Oct 2016
For years, ports have pushed to ensure that all Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund collections are used for dredging and not diverted to other uses.
The projected path and strength of Hurricane Matthew through the weekend.
05 Oct 2016
Hurricane Matthew has disrupted vessel traffic and closed ports at Caribbean hubs and in Florida as the killer storm moves north.
The port of Shenzhen, pictured, is joining Yangtze River Delta ports as the first regions of China to institute emissions control areas.
05 Oct 2016
Ships berthed at the port of Shenzhen are now required to burn low sulfur fuel.
04 Oct 2016
Southeast US ports are preparing for Hurricane Matthew.
04 Oct 2016
Saudi Arabia-based Bahri has opened a Houston office and is targeting the US Gulf and Mexico.
04 Oct 2016
An Israeli company plans to unveil a way to send a bill of lading digitally.
Breakbulk operations at the port of Houston, such as the one pictured, will soon take place under a new joint venture.
03 Oct 2016
Ports America and Cooper/T. Smith have merged their Houston breakbulk operations into a joint venture that has acquired all assets of Shippers Stevedoring and Chaparral Stevedoring.
Breakbulk and project cargoes have increasingly found their way onto container ships and other vessel types that do not usually haul such cargo when the market is healthier.
03 Oct 2016
Recovery in the multipurpose vessel market now appears unlikely before 2018.
30 Sep 2016
A judge has put an end to months-long industrial actions, in which dockworkers at the port of Santos disrupted operations and even boarded vessels.
The inability of Congress to empower the Export-Import Bank has allowed foreign countries to gain project cargo market share.
29 Sep 2016
US manufacturers and their supply chain partners are trying to persuade Congress to restore the Export-Import Bank’s ability to finance large US project shipments they say have been lost to other countries.
A recovery in the price of commodities is one factor that could help create demand for project cargo transportation.
29 Sep 2016
Companies have trimmed capital spending and are seeing delays in the completion of big construction jobs that generate project cargo.
Khalifa Port, pictured, will be able to handle 15 million 20-foot-equivalent units annually when complete.
28 Sep 2016
Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port is continuing its upward march.
The unique local manifestations of climate change present challenges for international terminal operators.
27 Sep 2016
"In certain cases the costs of upgrading will not be worth it, and you will likely see some facilities abandoned.”