Have you ever seen these huge ships that regularly sail in and out of our harbor?

Wallenius Aida underway with her vehicle ramp stowed. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

They have no portholes to speak of, and look like gargantuan floating boxes, their mysterious contents shrouded within.

They are called “Ro-Ro’s” by the industry… but why?

Courageous Ace with Charles D. McAllister. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Ro-Ro’s are vehicle transport ships.

Vehicles, unlike other cargo, are not packed into shipping containers and loaded by gantry or transfer cranes. Instead the automobiles are driven right onto the ship and then off again, once they reach their port of destination.

A Moran tug assists Wallenius Tancred passing Robbins Reef Lighthouse and the Statue of Liberty. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

“Ro-Ro” is short for “roll-on, roll-off”, a descriptive term used to describe car carrying cargo vessels. Loading and unloading vehicles in this way is very effective in getting the gigantic carriers in and out of port quickly and efficiently.

Eminent Ace. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

I wonder how many Ro-Ro’s cruise in and our of our port daily. I never fail to see at least one every time I am out on the water.

Asian King at dock with the vehicle ramp extended. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

What about you? Have you see any Ro-Ro’s lately? Share them with us! Post your photos at the WHC photo pool on flickr.

And to all who celebrate, a very Happy Easter and Passover to you and your loved ones!

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee, Thanks to Mitch Waxman / Newtown Pentacle for the generous use of his photos.