The strong point of sea-river shipping is found in its unique market range. Seaport transhipment is not required for sea-river vessels to be able to connect the hinterland with overseas destinations. This results in lower transport costs and a reduced risk of damage on account of the absence of additional transhipment.

Minimum load for transportation must be 1,000 t. at least. Nevertheless, making use of sea-river vessels is opting for flexibility, since separate holds are used, enabling conveyance of various sorts of load by one vessel. We also see the added advantage of the floating stock.

As it is already on its way to the customer it does not require storage in the company's silo or warehouse. And finally, apart from being cheaper, transportation by water is environmentally friendly as well.



Albert canal
  • Length 134 m
  • Width 12.5 m
  • Draught 3.4 m
  • Air Draught 6.7 m
  • Tonnage 1.500/2.000


Zeekanaal: Schelde - Ruisbroek Puurs
  • Length 240 m
  • Width 24 m
  • Draught 8.80 m
  • Air Draught 44 m
  • Tonnage 10.000


Zeekanaal: Ruisbroek - Brussels (voorhaven)
  • Length 200 m
  • Width 23 m
  • Draught 5.80 m
  • Air Draught 33.4 m
  • Tonnage 4.500

United Kingdom

Humber - Goole
  • Length 110 m
  • Width 24.5 m
  • Draught 5.5 m
  • Air Draught na
  • Tonnage 3.000/4.000

The Netherlands

Maas ; Juliana Canal
  • Length 135 m; 135 m
  • Width 12 m; 12 m
  • Draught 3 m; 3 m
  • Air Draught 6.8 m; 6.15 m
  • Tonnage 1.000/1.500 ; 1.000/1.500


Douro - Sardouro
  • Length 87 m
  • Width 111.4 m
  • Draught 3.9 m
  • Air Draught 7.5 m
  • Tonnage 2.000/2.500


Trolhattan canal ; Malaren Lake
  • Length 88 m ; 135 m
  • Width 13.2 m ; 19.6 m
  • Draught 5.4 m ; 7.5 m
  • Air Draught 27 m ; 41 m
  • Tonnage 3.000/4.000 ; 9.000


Saima canal
  • Length 82 m
  • Width 11.8 m
  • Draught 4.3 m
  • Air Draught 24.5 m
  • Tonnage 2.000/2.500


Seine - Gennevilliers (Paris)
  • Length 120 m
  • Width 15.5 m
  • Draught 3.5 m
  • Air Draught 8.7 m
  • Tonnage 1.500/2.000


Rhone ; Saone
  • Length 135 m ; 135 m
  • Width 11.4 m ; 11.4 m
  • Draught 3 m ; 3 m
  • Air Draught 6.2 m ; 5.1 m
  • Tonnage 1.000/1500 ; 1000/1500


Upper rhine ; Central Rhine
  • Length 110 m ; 110 m
  • Width 11.4 m ; 14 m
  • Draught 2.5 m ; 2.5 m
  • Air Draught 6.8 m ; 8.3 m
  • Tonnage 1.000/1.500 ; 1.000/1.500


Lower Rhine
  • Length 135 m
  • Width 22.4 m
  • Draught 3.5 m
  • Air Draught 9.1 m
  • Tonnage 2.000/4.000

Geographic Reach

Either full-length or in part, the river Humber in England and the Trollhatte canal in Sweden are navigable by conventional coaster, too. And so is the Nene river. Close to the latter's estuary we find a few ports admitting conventional coasters as well. Although Russia too has many rivers allowing navigation by sea-river vessels, navigation is at present only permitted to vessels under Russian flag.

The Netherlands has a number of rivers and canals such as the Rhine, Maas and IJssel rivers and the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal, all of these accessible to sea-river vessels. However, since the existence of navigable waterways as such is not enough, loading and unloading terminals are required too. It is for this reason that the development of so-called ROCs (Regional Transhipment Centres) is important. Already we find ROCs in Kampen, Heijen, Stein and Oss for container loading and unloading purposes mainly, but handling sea-river vessels with conventional loads as well.

Type of load

Sea-river vessels mainly carry bulk loads such as coal, grain, raw building materials and fertilizer. On top of this we find neo-bulk loads such as steel, steel products, sawed timber and paper, with sea-river vessels being employed for container transportation purposes too.

The two major users of sea-river shipping are the German steel industry, which is concentrated in the Ruhr area and the Swedish and Finnish timber industries. These regions of origin are determining the predominant transport pattern in this market.

It is downstream on the river Rhine that we find transport of steel products taking place, with transport of Scandinavian timber and paper products upstream. Both goods flows have their destinations in all parts of Europe. Transportation of bulk products such as grain and ore is considerable as well. These goods are conveyed in the form of return loads from the Ruhr area and to Scandinavia. One quarter of the Trollhätte canal transport movements consists of oil (products).


Although for a long time sea-river transport used to be a forgotten market segment we have recently been witnessing renewed, ample investment in this area, with various (Dutch) shipping companies ordering new sea-river ships to be built. New technology and technological developments have resulted in increased bridge clearance and lower draught, developments which have made even more European inland destinations more easily accessible. The coming of new types of vessel often implies for them to be built bigger. To the coastal shipping segment involved this might result in a decrease in shipping reach.

The new generation of sea-river vessels is smaller by way of tonnage as well. An example of a new type of sea-river vessel is printed overleaf, showing a vessel measuring 80 metres in length, 6.30 metres in height and 1,700 dwt in tonnage, all at 4.40 m. draught only. Its box-shaped hold moreover renders it suitable for all types of load, including containers.