Cargo ships of all shapes and sizes pass through Port of Antwerp-Bruges. They are designed and equipped for the cargo they carry.

Container ship

In the mid-1960s, shipping companies transported the first containers between the United States and Europe. At the end of that decade, around 1,000 20-foot containers fitted on a container ship. Today's mega ships have a cargo capacity of around 24 000 containers!


Container ships sail on fixed line connections between major seaports on different continents. These ships also call at Antwerp and Bruges. Smaller cargo ships sail on the connection between these two major seaports and regional ports. These container feeders fit up to 3,000 containers.

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RORO ship

RORO means 'roll on, roll off'. These ships transport rolling stock, such as cars, buses, trucks and tractors. Specially trained dockers drive the vehicles on or off the ship.


Inside, the ship looks like a multi-storey car park. They are adjustable in height. On the outside, a RORO ship has a ramp at the side or rear. Some RORO ships also carry containers on deck.

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Dry bulk cargo ship

Dry bulk cargo ships transport dry bulk cargo loose in their cargo space, such as sand, grain or coal. The hold is closed with hatches, so that the cargo is protected.


The cargo often comes on board via conveyor belts.


Unloading is usually done with grab cranes. Sometimes bulldozers sweep up the cargo in the hold so that the crane can grab it more easily.

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Tankers transport liquid products, such as crude oil, chemicals or liquefied gas. Very strict safety rules are in force on board.


These ships have double hulls. That way, the risk of leaking cargo leaks into the water in the event of a collision is reduced to a minimum. Loading and unloading takes place via pipelines, through hoses or flexible tubes. There are usually several cargo tanks inside the ship.


Tankers come in all sizes and weights. The largest can transport up to 300,000 tons.

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Breakbulk ship

Breakbulk is transported individually or in boxes, crates, barrels or bales. Examples are large steel tubes, heavy rolls of steel, large pieces of wood or pallets with boxes of fruit. It is the traditional method of transport, which made up the bulk of shipping before the advent of the container.


Today, this transport category specialises in goods that do not fit in a container because they are too big or too heavy. Many breakbulk ships have their own cranes to load and unload independently at ports that are not so well equipped.

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Heavy-lift ship

A heavy-lift ship is a special model of breakbulk ship. It can transport very large and heavy items, for example silos, large container cranes, bridges or large constructions for factories.


These special cargoes are a speciality of Port of Antwerp-Bruges. The heaviest item so far loaded onto a seagoing vessel in Antwerp weighed no less than 955 tons.

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Overview of different cargo ships

TypeName of shipLength (LOA – length over all)Width (beam)
ContainerMSC Isabella399,77 m61,03 m
RoRoGrande Europa/Gran Bretagna183,28 m32,25 m
RoRoGrande Anversa176 m31,10 m
RoRoGrande America213,88 m32,25 m
Dry BulkYeoman Bontrup250 m38 m
TankerEllen Essberger118 m19,05 m
BreakbulkAAL Kembla193,81 m29,1 m
Heavy liftRambiz85 m44 m

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