Why Does Ocean Freight Take So Long?


Ocean freight is an excellent solution for many companies seeking to deliver goods overseas. Yet the slow speed of ocean freight travel often shocks and dismays businesses expanding on a global scale for the first time. 

We're used to having most of the world at our fingertips. Here in Houston, you can get almost anything fast. But ocean travel is different.

Here's why ocean freight can take 20 to 45 days to arrive at its destination.

Ship Speed

As of this writing, the fastest cargo ship in the world is the Algol-class vehicle cargo ship. This ship zips across the water at a speed of 33 knots, roughly equivalent to traveling at 61 mph.

That's right. Your car can go faster than the fastest cargo ship. 

Average speeds range from 16 to 24 knots, meaning most cargo ships travel 18 to 27 miles per hour. Some pro cyclists can exceed the speed of an average cargo ship.

Delays at Port 

Ships don't just take your freight and then take off unless you have enough cargo to fill the entire hold. They spend about a week at loading stations, accepting containers from dozens of other companies. 

Those ports can introduce their own delays thanks to customs crackdowns, port congestion, and a wide variety of other external factors. 

Time to Unload

Once your goods are at port, they usually have more traveling to do. Local trucks must pick up your goods and ship them to the appropriate destination. 

These delays can be minor if your goods don't have very far to travel. If truckers have to spend miles traveling cross country, it can take a week or more to get goods where they need to go. 

Need solutions?

We give our customers realistic estimates on how much time it will take to transport their goods and help them track their shipments worldwide. We also provide solutions for overland transport, which means we can arrange truck transport for your goods even once those goods have arrived overseas.

While we can't make ocean freight travel any faster, we can ensure that poor logistical planning doesn't force your customers to wait even longer for your goods. Our experts can help you adjust supply chain schedules until they're running smoothly, accounting for potential issues and the strengths and limitations of each type of carrier.

Contact us to get started today. 

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