What are RORO ships and their advantages

In the world of logistics there are several ways to transport your cargo, not only with containers. One of those ways, specific to maritime transport, is by RORO vessels.

What is ro-ro?

Called RORO o ro-ro, this way of cargo shipping comes from the expression “roll-on/roll-off”, which describes a vessel transporting wheeled cargo, be it cars, trucks, buses, trailers or even industrial vehicles.

This kind of ships have built-in ramps on their bow or stern (the ramps can also be on land) to make the loading and unloading of the wheeled cargo much easier than if it was done with a crane.

As we’ll see later, ferries are a kind of RORO vessel and they can operate across rivers and other short distances through sea, the term ro-ro is commonly used only to descrive  large oceangoing shipping vessels.

LOLO or lift-on/Lift-off

On the other side from the RORO vessels there are the called LOLO, or lo-lo, which are those equipped with cranes for the loading and unloading of the cargo.

Variations of ro-ro vessels

There are different kinds of ro-ro vessels. Depending on their characteristics or the cargo they transport we can find:

  • Carcarriers: Those which transport cars exclusively. They are also called Pure Car Carriers (PCC).
  • Pure car/truck carrier (PCTC): The ones that transport trucks as well as cars.

Those vessels have multiple decks  specifically for vehicle transportation and some of them can even be made larger so they can fit bigger vehicles.

  • ConRo: or RoCon is the hybrid vessel between a RORO ship and a container ship. This type of vessel stacks containerized freight on the top decks and vehicles are stored below decks.
  • RoLo: is another hybrid that unites roll-on and lift-off.  A vessel with ramps for the vehicle decks but with other cargo decks only accessible when the tides change or by the use of a crane.
  • RoPax: is the acronym for roll-on/roll-off passenger, a vessel built for freight vehicle transport along with passenger accommodation. An example of this are ferries and cruiseferries.

There also exists the Large, medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off or LMSR which are the ro-ro vessels of the Military Sealift Command (MSC).

camión entrando en un buque roro

RORO advantages

The main advantages of ro-ro freight transport are speed and time saving.

  • Speed: Vehicles those can be directly driven into the vessel or land through the ramps making the loading and unloading process more quick and agile.
  • Time saving: Being able to cut through loading and unloading procedures enables the trucks and vehicles to land just minutes after docking  and continue with their route to their destination, improving on their delivery time.
  • Another important advantage to have in mind is less cargo handling. Because there is no loading and unloading at port, there is less risk of accidents and cargo damage.

Furthermore, RORO gives land transport a bigger action radius as it makes possible to shorten their route through ship instead of having to divert to a longer route.

In TransGlory we specialized in maritime freight transport, both consolidated (LCL) and Full load (FCL) and our service is 100% neutral.  You can get in touch with us via email.