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Sevenstar transport on liner services
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In previous issues of SEA Yachting we have covered yacht transport on charter services with many photos picturing the lifting of yachts by the vessel's own cranes. In this article we highlight that Sevenstar is also a strong contender for two additional methods of yacht transport: dedicated yacht transport and liner services. We explain the differences between the various transport methods and focus on the ins and outs of moving yachts via the highly specialized trade of liner transport.

Sevenstar transport on liner services
Sevenstar transport on liner services

Many people in the yachting world are familiar with the sight of a largecommercial freighter anchoring in the bay of Ao Po, with the purpose of loading or discharging special cargo: pleasure sailing- and motor yacht. The vessel is geared with its own cranes to lift the yachts on or from deck. In the shipping industry this is known as "Break Bulk Charter Service": vessels with available space on deck or in the holds are chartered to pickup, transport and discharge yachts on demand.

Less used in the cruising and sailing scene but very familiar to those in the yachting trade, is yacht transport on "Liner Service". Every day thousands of liner vessels roam the oceans bringing cargo from A to B. They are on fixed routes and always on tight schedules as cargo needs to arrive on time. We've all seen these large container and Ro Ro vessels on the water.

Sevenstar Yacht Transport is well-known for yacht shipping on scheduled and on-demand charter services. The parent company of Sevenstar, Spliethoff, manages a fleet of over 120 modern cargo vessels that call on all major ports of the continents. Most of these vessels are available for charter and some follow routes in Southeast Asia. In the last years Sevenstar has expanded its successful yacht transport business to include two additional methods of yacht transport: dedicated yacht transport and liner services.

In 2014 Sevenstar acquired the company Dockwise Yacht Transport, which is now operating under the name DYT. With this acquisition came two dedicated semi submersible yacht carriers: Yacht Express and Super Servant. These special vessels submerge the cargo area so that the yachts can float-on at loading. The yachts get secured on deck and the water is drained for the voyage. At the destination the cargo area is submerged again and the yachts can float-off. DYT mostly ships yachts on heavy demand routes between the Med and the Caribbean and sometimes to/from New Zealand/Australia.

In addition to that, Sevenstar has developed an expert division offering yacht transport on Liner Services, making use of the nearly 500 liner services in operation today worldwide, with most providing weekly departures on high-capacity, ocean-going ships that transit regular routes on fixed schedules from nearly all thinkable ports worldwide. To further expand and strengthen its position in this highly specialized field of yacht transport, Sevenstar merged the UK and Hong Kong offices of Complete Marine Freight into its liner division in the second half of 2015. CMF, a company offering marine transport primarily through liner services, has developed excellent relations with liner service operators and yachting trade clients worldwide.


Let's have a closer look at the defining aspects of Liner Services for yacht transport. First and foremost, liner vessels bring cargo from port to port on fixed routes and fixed schedules, for instance a weekly container transport from Antwerp to Singapore. Often liner ships do not have their own cranes on deck (container and Ro Ro vessels), although general cargo break-bulk vessels can also operate on a liner schedule basis.

Container lines

Container lines specialize in the fast loading, shipping and discharge of 'box shaped' objects: anything fitting in containers or flat racks that can be lifted by the port's container cranes. In addition to that, container lines can decide to carry items of break bulk cargo such as yachts. Two main methods of loading and discharge are being used: smaller yachts can be put on on a cradle on a "flat rack" container (see images and terminology list) to be lifted by the ports container cranes. Or in case the yacht is of larger dimensions (and does not fit on a flat rack), it needs to be lifted by other port cranes, whether dockside or a floating, specially ordered for the operation. The yacht is then secured on a cradle that is fitted on two, several or a floor of flat racks, depending on the yacht size.

Ro Ro

The term Ro Ro, which many of us know for the sea transport of cars, is also used for vessels that carry other cargo types on wheels. A yacht has to be on its trailer or can be put on a general purpose "mafi" (special loading trailer) in order to be rolled into the cargo hold.

Both transport methods, container and Ro Ro, also have their restrictions. Flat rack loading implies that the yacht has to fit within the dimensions of the 'flat rack container'. Sometimes it is possible to load "out of gauge" on a flat rack (OOG). In that case the yacht is a little larger than the standard dimensions of a flat rack, but still fits the 'container regime' and the lifting points of the flat rack are free for loading equipment. On the top-end of the scale, there is a weight restriction as well, dictated by crane capacity in the ports of loading and discharge. Ro Ro type of loading has both height limitations as the cargo doors are usually only 4 or 5 meter high, and also the length or overhang needs to be looked into as cargo needs to be maneuvered inside the carrier.


With large container terminals in Asian ports like Singapore, Port Klang, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai, and well known operators such as Maersk, CMA CGM, China Cosco and many many others, there are plenty options for transporting yachts on liner service from and to destinations worldwide. From several other ports there are 'feeder vessels' that take cargo to the main container hubs, where it then gets transshipped on long distance liner carriers. In this world of fast moving liner logistics, a specific yacht transport solution with the best service package against the best costs depends on many factors and requires highly specialized in depth knowledge of both requirements for yacht transport and options and restrictions for liner services.

Sevenstar transport on liner services
Sevenstar transport on liner services

2. From what to what? Yachts can be shipped from or to water, from or to truck, from or to quay and all combinations thereof. Different rates apply for instance fortransportfromwatertowaterthanfortransportfrom truck to truck, depending on the additional logistics involved at the port of loading and discharge. Cases where additional lifting is required (e.g. from water to a cradle on the quay and then with the cradle from the quay to the vessel) or where the yacht needs to be positioned on the quay for a while, can add (substantial) cost charged by port operators.

3. The total transport height of a yacht is of critical importance for liner transport because of physical restrictions (e.g. container height or Ro Ro door height,) but also because of agreed maximum height for noncontainer cargo. Since loading needs to be fast, container companies set caps on the height of cargo (or charge heavy surcharges for cargo with large heights). Sevenstar transport on liner services It can therefore be lucrative to reduce total height of a yacht as much as possible: e.g. by removing flag posts and/or radar domes, or sometimes even propellers. Also the cradle height needs to be included in the total height. In case of sailing yachts even keels (or just the bulb of the keel) can be removed to reduce the yachts' total height, for instance to be able to fit on a Ro Ro service.

4. Total weight is also an important factor because of the required crane capacity. Especially for larger yachts this may reduce the choice of available ports (and thus liner operators) as some ports may not carry sufficient crane capacity (dockside or floating). Also costs of arranging special cranes add up to the equation. In some cases, alternative ports need to be researched or alternative methods (heavy lift / charter service) are best considered.

5. Sailing yachts ship mast down on container or Ro Ro vessels. When possible, it is preferable to ship the yacht and mast as one package: sometimes masts can be lashed on deck with overhang (e.g. on Ro Ro), or masts are cut in half before being lashed on deck (container). However, if that is not possible, a mast needs to be carried as separate item on the vessel. They need to be well packaged and supported, and for new yachts masts often come fitted in a separate mast box by the yacht factory.

6. New yachts from the factory often come on a one -time-use cradle that needs to be disposed off at the discharge port. In order to smoothly co-ordinate timing and specific requirements for transport, Sevenstar works closely together with yacht factories on the basis of a production number for a specific yacht in production. For new yachts, liner transport has one big advance over charter service: if the yacht production is delayed in the factory, there are options to simply roll over to the next liner sailing.

Sevenstar transport on liner services

7. Loading and discharge ports. Whereas charter break bulk vessels often can load or discharge yachts from or to water while they are at anchor, container and Ro Ro vessels always need come alongside a specific container terminal or other quay. This reduces the number of loading and discharge locations and also means that special permits and rules apply for the yacht entering the official port zone via water. For instance, the compulsory use of safety boats and pilot to accompany the yacht between port and marina in Singapore and Tanjung Pelapas.

8. Additional services are important to offer a point-to-point solution. Services such as road transport (in case of delivering or receiving a yacht, or mast by truck), special transport covers, export and import customs clearance, cargo insurance, loadmaster attendance, service and facilities for stepping a mast in case of a sailing yacht, depend on a well-established network for logistics infrastructure and can all be part of the liner service yacht transport solution.

9. Last, but not least, the cost aspect of transport on liner involves the total logistics chain from A to B including additional services. In quite a few cases costs for liner transport can be lower than other methods of yacht transport, whereas in other situations these costs can turn out to be actually higher, but still preferred for instance because of timing requirements.

Break bulk

Break bulk cargo is non containerized and is usually transported as individual pieces due to cargo often being oversized and overweight meaning freight containerscannotaccommodatethecargo. Cargoes include goods such as construction equipment, oil and gas equipment, windmills, yachts and steel, etc. Many specialist break bulk vessels come fitted with heavy lift cranes which can manage the heaviest of cargo safely and quicker than dockside cranes.

Sevenstar transport on liner services Charter and part-charter

A charter is the hiring of a vessel and crew for a voyage between a load port and a discharge port. In case of part-charter, only a part of the vessel is chartered (e.g. space in the hold, a full deck, or even part of a deck) and the vessel carries cargo from different charterers for the same route.


General purpose dry containers are manufactured from either aluminum or steel and are unitized for freight handling with standardized equipment. Two most common sizes used in ground and sea transportationareatwenty-footer(typical capacity of 33.2 cubic meter and maximum payload28180kilogram) andaforty-footer (typical capacity 67.7 cubic meter and maximum payload 28750 kilogram).

Flat rack container

A flat rack container consists of a floor structure with a high loading capacity composed of a steel frame and a softwood floor and two end walls, which may either be fixed or collapsible. The end walls are stable enough to allow cargo securing means to be attached and several flat racks to be stacked on top of one another. Flat racks are also available in 20' and 40' sizes and can be lifted and handled like containers.


Mobile loading platform (trailer) for loading a large item, facilitating transport by Ro Ro vessels, or moving cargo around in the harbour.

OOG (Out of Gauche)

Out of Gauche loads are loads with dimensions exceeding those of a flat rack. The shipping companies charge an OOG surcharge for lost slots. After all, wherever goods protrude, no other containers can be loaded.

Ro Ro vessel

Vessels that use a roll on - roll off method through which mobile cargo is driven onboard a ship, directly or on mafis, without the use of cranes.

Semi-submersible vessel

Semi-submersible vessels are heavy lift vessels that are able to transform from a deep to a shallow draft by de-ballasting (removing ballast water from the hull), thereby becoming surface vessels. By submerging the majority of their structure, yachts can float in to the hold, after which the yachts are secured and the water is drained to make vessel and cargo ready for transport.

Sevenstar transport on liner services