What Is A Car Transport Vessel? The Basics Of RoRo (Roll On, Roll Off) Ships

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What Is A Car Transport Vessel? The Basics Of RoRo (Roll On, Roll Off) Ships
What Is A Car Transport Vessel? The Basics Of RoRo (Roll On, Roll Off) Ships

What Is A Car Transport Vessel? The Basics Of RoRo (Roll On, Roll Off) Ships 

Whether you’re looking to ship a vehicle overseas or you’re just curious about the ways that cars are typically shipped to different countries and continents, you may be wondering what a car transport vessel is, and how it works. Let’s discuss RoRo ships, how they work, why they’re used, and everything else you need to know about car transport vessels now. 

What Is A Car Transport Vessel?

A car transport vessel is usually known as a “RoRo” ship or vessel. RoRo stands for Roll On, Roll Off. This term is used because this is how the vehicles are loaded onto the ship. RoRo ships have large internal holds that look like parking garages – and vehicles are simply driven or “rolled” onto the ship at their departure point, then driven or “rolled” off when they arrive at the destination. 

The first dedicated car transport vessels were used in the early 1960s, with the first cargo ships built only for car transportation coming into use in the late 1970s. Today, RoRo shipping is the most widely-used transport method for wheeled vehicles. 

This includes not only cars, but also trucks, semi-trucks, heavy duty wheeled and tracked construction equipment, utility vehicles, truck trailers, agricultural equipment, and anything else that can be driven or towed on-board and will fit into the cargo hold of a RoRo vessel.

Car transport vessels are more efficient and less expensive to use than cargo container ships for shipping vehicles, in most cases. They also usually offer faster delivery times, as vehicles can be unloaded more quickly by driving them off the ship compared to hauling containers off of a ship using a crane.

How Long Does It Take To Ship A Car Using A RoRo Vessel?

This depends on the distance of the shipment. Shipping a car from New York City to Miami, FL, for example, may take 14 days or less – but shipping a car from San Francisco to Hong Kong will take much longer, up to 4 weeks. It may also take longer if the vessel will be stopping to drop off shipments at multiple ports.

Just like other methods of ocean-going freight, RoRo shipping is not extremely fast, so you will need to do some preparation and planning to make sure your car arrives at its destination when you need it. 

Can Cars Be Transported On Cargo Container Ships?

Yes. Standard 20-foot and 40-foot cargo containers can hold most cars, and can be equipped with straps and tie-downs to keep your car safe while shipping. Shipping cars by container is more common for people who are permanently moving to a new country, since household goods can also be shipped in the same container.

However, if you’re only moving a car, it doesn’t make as much sense to use a cargo ship and containerized shipping. It will take longer to ship your car and it may cost more money compared to using a RoRo car transport vessel. 

Do I Need Last-Mile Trucking If I Ship With A RoRo Container Ship? 

That depends on your location. If you live near the port where your car will be shipped, you can drive it there and drop it off yourself. And if the destination port is easily accessible, you can simply pick it up there when it’s been unloaded and processed, and drive it to your destination. 

However, if you are not located near either port, you may need to hire a car transport truck to pick up your car and take it to the port – or to pick it up at your destination and deliver it to your new residence. 

Contact A-1 Auto Transport To Ship Your Car Domestically Or Overseas 

Whether you need to use a RoRo ship to send a car internationally, or you just need to ship a car across the US, A-1 Auto Transport is here to help. We work with a large network of experienced auto transport companies, and can provide you with expert car transport services at the best rates. So don’t wait – call today, or contact us online for a quote.

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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