How Ocean Waterways (Routes) Has Been Classified for for Shipping?

The world’s shipping may, for convenience, be classified into four groups.

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(i) Liners. These are ships which carry some cargo, but are mainly engaged in the transf passengers, sometimes in conditions of considerable luxury. Very few liners today rem service and these are used for much of the time for holiday cruises. Their significance international carrying trade is negligible.

(ii) Cargo liners. These are concerned mainly with freight transport, though many have cabin for a few passengers. Like passenger liners, they keep to regular routes.


(iii) Tramp shipping. Tramp shipping adheres to no regular route. It carries odd cargoes hil thither; when it has finished one task the tramp steamer looks for another. It may well from its home port for two or three years at a time.

(iv) Coastal shipping. These vessels are of small tonnage. They keep to inshore waters, anil ascend the estuaries of rivers sometimes to the tide limit. They carry bulk cargoes such as timber and building materials in competition with road and rail transport, and their coma belongs to their country’s internal rather than international trade.

Principal Ocean Routes

The world’s principal ocean routes include the following:


(1) The North Atlantic Route.

(2) The Suez Canal Route.

(3) The Panama Canal Route.

(4) The Cape of Good Hope Route.


(5) The South Atlantic Route.

(6) The Pacific Route.


The North Atlantic Route

i. It connects the ports of Western Coast of Europe with those on the East Coast of North America.

ii. Major ports of the West Coast of Europe: Glasgow, Liverpool, Southampton, London, Bristol, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Lisbon on the American East Coast Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, Montreal, Quebec, Halifax and St. John.

iii. Ports of Western Coasts of Europe export large quantities of textiles, chemicals, machinery, steel, fertilisers and wine to the United States and Canada.

iv. Ports situated on the coasts of North America provide foodstuffs, wheat, animal feeds, cotton, tobacco, paper and wood pulp, timber, nickle and copper to European Countries.

v. The one of the busiest ocean route of the world because it connects two highly industralised regions of the world.

vi. The total tonnage of the world’s merchant vessels, engaged on this route accounts for nearly one- fourth of the total world tonnage.

The Suez Canal Route

i. The Suez Canal has been constructed by cutting across the Isthmus of Suez in 1869.

ii. It runs from Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Port Suez on the Red Sea. It passes through three lakes namely Menzala, Timsa and the Bitter Lakes.

iii. The Canal lies in the Egyptian territory, but it is open for navigation to all the countries of the world.

iv. The Suez Canal is one of the greatest international waterways which pass through a level land without locks. The canal is 162 km long, 65 metres wide and 10 metres deep.

v. The Canal connects two continents of the world where more than 75% of the world population lives. It connects the countries of Europe with those of Africa, Asia, and Australia

Major Ports to be served Suez Canal

i. London, Liverpool, Southampton, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Marseilles, Genoa and Naples

ii. After crossing the Red Sea, the Suez Route diverges into Durban (east coast of Africa) and the other goes farther eat to India, Australia, etc.

iii. The important ports include Aden, Mumbai, Kolkata, Rangoon, Penang, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Mombassa, Zanzibar, Mozambique and Durban.

iv. The route commands a wide market consisting of East Africa, Iran, Arabia, India, the Far East, and Australia

v. The West-bound traffics carry cereals, oilseeds, fibres and textiles, mineral oils, manganese and other minerals, sugar, tea, rubber, etc. while the East bound traffic carry miscellaneous manufactures, iron and steel, machinery coal, salt, cement, petroleum, wood pulp etc.

The Panama Canal Route

i. The Panama Canal connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean.

ii. It is 80 km long, 91 to 305 metres wide and 12 to 16 metres deep.

iii. It has been constructed by cutting across the Panama Isthmus.

iv. Atlantic Ocean Port: Colon

v. Pacific Ocean Port: Panama

vi. The average height of the canal is 26 metres from average sea level. Hence locks are used to maintain the adequate level of water in the canal.

vii. The Panama Canal has brought the west coast of the U.S.A. and the west-coast countries of South America closer to the east coast of the U.S.A. and Western Europe.

viii. Before the opening of the canal, the sea route between the east and west coasts of U.S.A. was via Cape Horn, circumventing South America. The Panama Canal Route has saved considerable time and distance.

The Cape of Good Hope Route

i. The Cape route joins the ports of Western Europe with those of the West and South coasts of Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

ii. With the opening of the Suez Canal it has been rendered insignificant.

iii. The ports served by this route are London, Liverpool, Cardiff, Swansea Southampton and Lisbon in Western Europe; Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in South Africa; Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia.

iv. The volume of the traffic on these routes is not much as the western coast of Africa is still economically very backward.

The South Atlantic Route

i. The South Atlantic Route connects the ports of Western Europe with West Indies, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and the Caribbean countries of South America.

ii. Major ports on this route are Kingston, Havana, Timpico, Bahia, Rio-de-Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santos, Rosario and Montevideo.

iii. The north ward-bound traffic carries sugar, banana, coffee, grains, cotton, wool, timber, tobacco, rubber, etc. from Latin American countries.

iv. Southward traffic consists of manufactured goods and machinery from Europe to Latin American countries.

The Pacific Route

i. This links the ports of the western coasts of North America with these of Eastern Asia. Ports of East, China, Japan and Philippine Islands are connected with ports of Canada and USA.

ii. Vancouver, Seattle, San Franscisco and Los Angles, are major ports of Canada and U.S, Shangai, Hongkong, Tokyo, Yakohama, Kobe and Manila are major ports of East Asia.

Ports and Harbours

A port is a place where ships may tie up and discharge their cargoes a harbour is a stretch protected by man or by nature from the open sea beyond, in which ships may lie at anchor in safety

Ports may be divided, according to he functions which they perform, into terminal ports and ports these do not constitute exclusive categories, however, since there are few terminal ports whichl sometimes serve as ports-of-call, and vice versa.

(i) Terminal ports. These are large ports, commanding a wide and varied hinterland. The ultimate destinations of ships which will as a general rule expect to take on full cargoes.

Example: London and Liverpool, Rotterdam and Hamburg, New York and San Francisco

(ii) Ports-of-call. Ships sailing between terminal ports may pause at ports-of-call to unload or part-cargoes. These ports may be of great importance to the countries in which they lay make little difference to the operations or the profits of the shipping companies.

Manyspi ships more carriers and oil-tankers, for example make no such intermediate calls between terminal ports.

i. The out port is a particular kind of port-of-call designed to save a ship from a slow and costly voyage up and estuary to take on only a small part-cargo.

ii. Many other large ports also have an outport between themselves and the ocean.

iii. For example Rouen has Le Harve, Hamburg has Cuxhaven, Nantes has St Nazaire, Bristi Avonmouth and London has Tilbury.

An entrepot is another specialised port-of-call, a port that serves as a collecting centre.

At Mayaguez in Puerto Rico, for example, small cargoes are collected from the many small islandsol West Indies, none of which would be likely to be visited by a large ship.

Here they are held for lor similarly, goods from Europe or other distant points can be brought here for distribution. Hong Kong Singapore performs the same function in eastern Asia.

Many large ports – New York, San Francisco and Hamburg, for example – have free zones. It is a possible for goods to be brought overland in transit and in bond to such ports.

In this way the port of York may serve the needs of Canada; Trieste serves Hungary, Yugoslavia and Italy; Thessaloniki Yugoslavia and Greece.

Free zones are now to found at railway junctions of international importance! As Innsbruck and at major international air ports.

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