The modern merchant fleet is made up of a diverse range of vessel types, each with its own specific characteristics and uses. Some of the most common types of vessels found in the merchant fleet include:
Container ships: These vessels are specifically designed to transport cargo in standardized containers. They are typically large and can carry a large number of containers at once.
Bulk carriers: These vessels are used to transport bulk cargo such as coal, grain, and ore. They are typically large and have a number of cargo holds that can be filled with the cargo through hatches on the top of the ship.
Tankers: These vessels are used to transport liquid cargo such as oil and chemicals. They have tanks built into the ship to store the cargo and are typically very large in size.
Ro-Ro vessels: These are short for roll-on/roll-off vessels, they are designed to transport vehicles, truck,s and trailers across a body of water.
General cargo ships: These vessels are used to transport a variety of different types of cargo. They have a large cargo hold and can carry both packaged goods and bulk cargo.
Reefer ships: specifically used to transport perishable goods that require a controlled temperature, such as fruits and vegetables.
As for the number of ships, it is difficult to give an exact number as it may vary by different sources and countries but by rough estimation is around 60,000 commercial ships globally, calling at around 20,000 commercial ports across the world.