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Why Is It Called RoRo?

Published by Tamar Hela.

Why Is It Called RoRo?

If you've ever wanted to send a car somewhere, you might have heard about "RoRo." It's a popular term in the shipping industry, or you might have heard it concerning military vehicles. What is RoRo?

This article holds the answer. And from where did this expression originate? Why is it used? Does it apply as an international shipping option?

Learn about this shipping method and its method and how it has revolutionized the shipping industry. So, come along for the ride and discover the fascinating world of RoRo.


What Is RoRo Shipping?

The answer is simple. "RoRo" is an acronym for "Roll-on/Roll-off."

It refers to a method of loading and unloading cargo that involves driving it onto a vessel or trailer and then driving it off again at the destination.

Originating in Scotland as a train ferry service, the early "RoRo" was used to transport railway vehicles. It became more prominent in the shipping industry during World War I, although the modern use of rolling as we know it today began in the 1940s. It finally became mainstream starting in the 1950s.

RoRo shipping is a convenient and efficient way of transporting large amounts of wheeled cargo by sea. It stands for "roll-on/roll-off," which involves rolling the cargo onto the ship on wheeled platforms or trailers.

This method is great for businesses that need to move multiple items simultaneously, as it can carry different types of cargo simultaneously. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive when compared with other freight transportation services.

The process is called rolling because vehicles and containers can be driven or rolled on board without being lifted or craned into place. It makes loading and unloading much quicker than conventional shipping methods.

RoRo vessels are now common in contemporary times and are a sought-after solution to ship your goods across the question.

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How It Works

RoRo shipping works by driving or rolling the cargo onto the ship on wheeled platforms or trailers to load and unload.

Once loaded onto the ship, the cargo is secured so it won't move during transportation. The goods can then be unloaded in a fraction of the time required with other freight transportation services once the vessel reaches its target port.

The process is simple and relatively inexpensive, making Ro-Ro shipping an ideal choice for businesses.

Finally, Ro-Ro vessels are frequently fitted with cutting-edge navigational and communication systems to ensure safe ocean transit.

Different Types of RoRo Ships

RoRo vessels with varied specifications and capacities are available, depending on your cargo size and weight.

Ferries also use the RoRo shipping method to transport people and vehicles between ports, while barges can transport heavy cargo that cannot fit on a ship.

For lighter freight cargoes, roll-on/roll-off vessels may be suitable. These ships can typically handle large amounts of wheeled freight, such as cars or trucks, and since the loading process is relatively simple, they're great for quick turnarounds.

Plus, their design allows them to access ports with limited infrastructure.

Ro-Pax vessels (that also use the RoRo method) combine freight and passenger ships. They transport both cargo and passengers, allowing for efficient transportation of goods without having to rent out multiple ships.

Pure Car Carriers (PCCs) are a type of Ro-Ro vessel that specializes in shipping automobiles. These vessels can carry up to 4,000 vehicles at once.

PCCs are fitted with cutting-edge communication and navigational technologies for safe sea travel.

Combined carriers are also a type of RoRo vessel, combining the features of cargo ships and ferries. These vessels typically have two or more decks (a vehicle deck and a passenger accommodation), transporting freight and people simultaneously.

Meanwhile, container RoRo/RoRo LoLo (lift-on/lift-off) vessels are a hybrid vessel type. It can transport both containers and roll-on/roll-off cargo. These ships have special cranes and other lifting machinery to transfer containers onto the vessel's decks easily.

There is always a RoRo ship that can accommodate your needs no matter what kind of goods you need to transport by sea, so make sure you do your homework before choosing one.


RoRo Design Benefits

RoRo design benefits make this shipping method highly desirable for businesses that need to move a variety of cargo.

RoRo is distinctive from other cargo ships due to their beneficial design features, such as:

  • Flat bottom design: This allows access to shallow water ports, enabling the ship to travel to ports other vessels couldn't reach. It opens up a whole new range of destinations for your cargo, such as rivers or canals, and increases the number of cities served.
  • Onboard stern ramp: The ramp enables easy loading and unloading of cargo, reducing the need for expensive cranes and other port equipment. It is adjustable, accommodating different heights at the docking area for land or sea access.
  • Removable decks: This design is for the ship to carry higher and wider loads than other vessels would be able to. It improves the volume of stuff you can move in a single trip, saving you time and money. It is also beneficial for different sizes of vehicles or larger construction equipment, and it is easily changed onsite as needed.
  • Ample deck space: Their decks provide plenty of room to store various goods, enabling the ship to transport different types of cargo simultaneously. They can also transport people and accommodate sleeping quarters for tourists wishing to cruise and transport their vehicles at the same time.
  • Reduced emissions: These ships are smaller and more efficient, which means fewer emissions than the conventional shipping methods. Ro-Ro ships emit fewer greenhouse gasses and pollutants per unit of cargo transported than larger vessels.
  • Smaller fuel consumption: RoRo can be cheaper with the help of its more efficient fuel consumption. Shipbuilders have lowered the energy required for propulsion by using low-drag hulls and air lubricating systems.
  • Increased security: Specifically designed to carry vehicles and secure them on the deck with special straps or blocks, RoRo's design reduces the risk of damage during transit. The vessels are also well-equipped with navigation and safety equipment to ensure the crew's and cargo's safety.

The ingenuity of these vessels has made them popular worldwide. No wonder medium-sized businesses favor these ships in many locations not accessible by larger cargo ships.

Disadvantages of RoRo

Although RoRo shipping has many benefits, there are a few drawbacks. Let's go through them below.

  • Size restrictions: These ships might be unable to transport heavy objects or loads due to size restrictions. While equipped with removable decks, this feature may only be suitable for some types of cargo, so you may need to hire another vessel to transport large items.
  • Speed restrictions: Another issue is that RoRo ships can only travel at certain speeds, depending on the type of vessel. As a result, they may need more time to finish lengthier voyages than other cargo vessels.
  • Budget concerns: RoRo vessels may be more expensive than traditional cargo vessels due to their specific design and equipment needs. This concern could make them an unaffordable option for some businesses if you aren't shipping vehicles.
  • Less flexibility: RoRo vessels are often less flexible than container ships when it comes to scheduling and route changes since they need to be able to maneuver without causing damage to other vessels or cargo.

But do not let these disadvantages discourage you. RoRo shipping is still one of the most efficient options you can have.

Differences in Deep Sea and Short Sea RORO Shipping

Does it matter whether your RoRo shipping goes through "deep sea shipping" or "short sea shipping"? Don't let these terms fool you; it's just a matter of distance.

Deep sea RoRo shipping refers to delivering goods, vehicles, and other cargo on intercontinental routes. It's still an efficient method of cargo transportation, where hub ports used for deep sea shipping act as trans-shipment ports to move the load from one port to another.

This type of ocean shipping offers many advantages, such as:

  • Increased safety
  • Savings in transport cost
  • Faster movement
  • Flexibility in transport mode
  • More direct access to the primary services

Meanwhile, short sea shipping represents a convenient alternative to deep sea shipping. It's when shipping companies move goods over a shorter distance. In maritime transportation language, the term is often shortened to SSS.

The transported goods will travel the same territorial waters when shipped via SSS, often with considerable reduction to the journey's reduction.

In addition, organizations can use this type of service to reduce costs by consolidating or redistributing goods from or to deep sea vessels to send them off at different ports near each other easily.


Cargo Carrier for Consumers

The usefulness of RoRo in the shipping industry is undeniable, especially for shipping companies. From cars to heavy machinery, the Roll-on/Roll-off method has revolutionized how we transport goods globally.

So next time you hear about a RoRo vessel, remember the ingenuity behind its name and its impact on our world.

For A1 Auto Transport, RoRo shipping is familiar territory. With our expertise as a cargo carrier specializing in vehicle transport, we serve 190 countries worldwide with a global community of satisfied consumers.

Get your free estimate for international shipping options from one of America's most reliable shipping companies.

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Tamar Hela is one of our featured writers at A-1 Auto Transport, researching everything from AI auto shipments out of China to what paperwork is required to move long distance. We can safely say she's become well versed in all things shipping and logistics while making the information easy to digest and understandable. 

Tamar has been a copywriter for over 16 years and was trained in the 7-Figure Copywriting Accelerator course through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI). She's also an incredibly seasoned copyeditor, having previously been the Chief Editor and Publishing Director for Cosby Media Productions, based in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
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ABC Worldwide LLC
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Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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