“Water is a free gift of nature’. Human civilization through gradual application of science and technology, have utilized water resources for economic, political and military activities. Remarkable advancements are taking place in water transport due to considerable improvement in the construction, design motive power, speed and safety of ships and boats.
Water transport is the process of moving people, goods etc. by barge, boat, ship or sailboat over a sea, ocean, lake, canal, river, etc. This category does not include articles on the transport of water for the purpose of consuming the water. Water Transports are of two types
(i) Inland Waterways ii). Ocean Waterways
Inland Waterways comprise of rivers, canals and lakes. It is also known as internal water transport. Rivers that are naturally navigable are called natural waterways. Canals and canalized rivers belong to the category of ‘Artificial Waterways’. Generally small boats and steamers are operated on rivers to transport people and goods. Where rivers are deep enough, large ships can also ply on them. Canals are man- made waterways, constructed for the twin purposes of navigation and irrigation.
· It is considered as the cheapest mode of transport among the other modes of transport.
· It carries goods smoothly due to the absence of shaking and jolting during transit. It is eminently suitable for the carriage of fragile goods like glassware, earth ware etc., without causing damage.
· It is most suitable for heavy loads.
· There is lesser pollution in water transport.
· Initial investment on river services as well as expenditure on their maintenance is much lesser as compared to road and rail transport.
· It is the slowest means of transport. As compared to this, railways are quicker, safer and cheaper means of transport.
· Floods caused during rainy season, lack of flow of water during summer season affect to ply boats and steamers.
· Sometimes rivers also change their way. It leads to stoppage and uncertainty in usage of this means of transport.
Ocean transport has been playing a significant role in development of economic, social and cultural relations among countries of the world. International trade owes its growth to ocean transport. Ocean transport enjoys a pride of place in aiding international trade. Cheapness is its great virtue. In the transportation of low-grade, bulky goods among the countries, the role of ocean transport is commendable.
Ocean transport may be divided into two broad categories.
Coastal shipping constitutes an important means of transport in all countries having a long coastline. It is a cheap means of transport for the movement of bulky cargoes like coal, iron ore etc. to domestic ports of country. Usually, coastal shipping trade of a country is reserved for national shipping. In India, Coastal shipping trade is now exclusively reserved for Indian ships.
It means the passengers’ and goods have to cross ocean. Example India export goods to America.
An ocean liner is a passenger ship primarily used as a form of transportation across seas or oceans. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes (e.g., for pleasure cruises or as hospitals ship). They sail to schedule, whether they have a full load or not. They follow defined routes with fixed places and times of call. Regularity of service, god sped and luxurious facilities to passengers are the specialties of liners.
There are two types of liners, namely, Passenger liners and Cargo liners.
Tramps are essentially cargo vessels. See the picture above. They have no set routes. They do not follow any timetable. They sail only when they get sufficient load. They sail at any time and carry cargoes for almost any ports.
The following is the major types of commercial ships
1. General cargo ship 2. Bulk carriers 3. Container ships 4. Auto carrier 5. Tankers
6. Fishing vessels 7. Oil vessels 8. Passengers ships 9. Ferryboats 10. Tow and tug boats
11. Specialized ships