What Are Some Of The Issues That Can Arise With Sea Freight Transportation - KTL UK

Posted by Liz Seyi on February 6th, 2024

There can undoubtedly be many advantages of arranging freight by sea for whatever shipment you need to have transported from one location to another. Those benefits can include the scope to have large volumes shipped at impressively low rates, as well as to use shipping containers for any further transportation that may be required for the given shipment via road or rail. 

However, if freight by sea is something that you have been considering for the shipping of your goods, there are still some potential problems, issues, or risks that you might wish to be mindful of. 

Below, we have set out a few of them. 

The need to keep costs down  

This might seem a curious first inclusion on this list given what we stated above, and it is true that sea freight transportation has long been regarded as the most economical shipping option. 

However, in common with almost everything else in today’s world of sticky inflation and high interest rates, freight by sea is susceptible to costs and fees continuing to creep up. Technological upgrades to help bolster the efficiency and dependability of maritime freight further add to the upward pressure on costs. 

None of this, however, gives reason to be fatalistic about your prospects of controlling the costs of freight by sea. Indeed, probably the best thing you can do in this regard is hire a freight forwarding company, which will be able to give you the best possible sea freight rates, especially if the volumes you are looking to transport are relatively low. 

Geographic and weather hazards 

It would be easy to present freight by sea as a very risky endeavour for getting goods from one place to another. After all, there are all of those hurricanes, typhoons, tropical cyclones, icebergs, coral reefs, and sandbars that could imperil the vessels transporting your cargo. 

If this is a factor that has caused you to pause when considering sea freight versus options such as road or air freight, it is important to separate the irrational fears from the reality about this. 

Yes, potential threats to cargo ships at sea can and do exist – hurricane winds, for example, are able to reach as much as 160 miles per hour. Plus, many people remember famous disasters such as the 2012 demise of the Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia, which struck a sandbar off the Tuscan coast and subsequently keeled over on its side, with the loss of 32 lives. 

But it is also crucial to acknowledge the sheer rarity of such incidents, as well as the extremely fastidious and well-judged work that is done to ensure such occurrences stay rare. Only the strongest and most seaworthy ships are typically used for the purposes of sea freight, with today’s container ships being specifically designed to withstand storms and similar risks. 

Furthermore, recent years have seen constant advancements in weather detection technology and meteorology, all of which has helped shipping companies to better predict weather conditions and steer their vessels away from possibly hazardous routes. 

Technological malfunctions 

This term is, of course, a broad one covering all manner of technological issues that potentially can occur with freight by sea, such as engine issues, navigational equipment failures, and/or structural problems. It can also include the loss of shipping containers at sea during journeys. 

As with the other inclusions on this list, it is important to not understate this as a possible issue with freight by sea, but also to not overstate it. The World Shipping Council (WSC), for instance, has estimated that 661 shipping containers were lost at sea during 2022, although this was significantly lower than the situation the two years beforehand. 

The achievement of such lower numbers is likely to say something about the considerable strides the industry has made in maximising container safety. 

Indeed, today’s shipping companies adopt a range of measures to help prevent technological issues, including thoroughly inspecting equipment prior to their vessels setting sail, carrying out vital fixes before departure, and ensuring equipment is kept up to date. 

Hopefully, the above will have given you a well-rounded appreciation of some of the issues that shipping companies, freight forwarders, and those considering the use of freight by sea for their shipments ought to keep in mind. 

To learn more about our own maritime freight solutions here at KTL, and how we can provide the complete service that will ensure your shipment reaches its destination safely and on time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us

Like it? Share it!


Liz Seyi

About the Author

Liz Seyi
Joined: August 13th, 2019
Articles Posted: 1,445

More by this author