An Overview of Hawaii Car Shipping Vessels

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Car Shipping
An Overview of Hawaii Car Shipping Vessels

When you are a car moving service tasked with hauling vehicles over the vast ocean, it simply wouldn’t do to just put a vehicle on the next ship departing for Hawaii and leave it at that. In fact, this is the last thing that should really be done. However, there are many vessels on the ocean that are specifically designed for keeping cars (as well as the vessel) stable while riding on the high waves.

But when it comes to the specific design of seabound auto transports, it actually isn’t as simple as you might think. Every ship is built for different types of seas. Some are meant only for shallow water while others can take the rigors of deep sea sailing across the international waters separating mainland America from Hawaii. For our business, there are three different kinds of vessels developed for the civilian market. We are going to go over each one and talk about their different advantages and disadvantages.


The first deck plan the car shipping industry uses is called the ROPAX model. ROPAX is an acronym for “roll-on/roll-off passenger” and is the most commonly seen variety of auto transports. These versatile vehicles are built for all different types of conditions from shallow waters to deep oceans.

The distinguishing trait of the ROPAX model is they are meant for shipping cars as well as passengers. Upper decks will be dedicated to passenger and crew cabins while the lower decks contain all the vehicles being transported. They go virtually anywhere from single decks—such as on small inland ferries you find in Washington and Alaska—to multiple decks for larger capacity. The biggest ROPAX vessels have facilities for five hundred passengers and upwards of a thousand commercial vehicles.


The second variety of vessel used by our car moving service is the RoLo, or “roll-on/lift-off,” vessel. This is an older deck plan that saw greater use in the 60s when the industry first got started. One of two “hybrid” types, the RoLo vessel’s distinguishing feature is the use of a ramp to access some decks and a dock crane being required to access other decks.

Though this variety isn’t nearly as common as it used to be, many of these types of vessels are still in duty around the world. While not quite as reliable as the ConRO, their hybrid counterpart, or as versatile as the ROPAX, they do have the certain advantage of being able to carry a wider variety of vehicles. Upper cargo decks—the ones accessible by only cranes—are equipped for passenger vehicles while lower decks are meant for large commercial vehicles. This means that if you require long distances travelled to your destination, such as from Seattle to Honolulu, this would most likely be the vessel your car travels on.


But the best vessel for car shipping over deep waters is easily the aforementioned ConRO. This vessel is hybrid because it is not just a vehicle transport vessel, but also a container ship such as you find on commercial docks and on railroads. These vessels are easily the largest ones you will see on open waters, capable of carrying thousands of containers as well as a large number of vehicles.

The oversized cargo, as well as vehicles of all kinds, are stored on three decks, each connected by an intricate ramp system similar to a parking garage. These decks are reserved mostly for commercial vehicles and trucks. Underneath these large decks would be five other decks, capable of carrying up to two thousand passenger vehicles.

No Matter What is Used, You are in Good Hands

Each of these vessels are equipped with state-of-the-art systems that ensure stability in lower decks and, as a result, are all certified by the government for sea travel. These behemoths of the ocean are truly remarkable things, feats of modern engineering that only improve with each generation. You can rest assured that when you are moving to Hawaii, these ships and their captains will get your vehicle to safety.

We hope this venture into the intricate world of auto transports has helped to enlighten you on the kinds of transport you will be entrusting your car with. Be sure to contact us if you have a question.

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