Feeder services. When a liner operator provides carriage of goods by sea from major ports, he may not be able to call in at smaller, less busy ports to pick up or drop cargo.
Smaller feeder vessels may be used to transport cargo to the major load centers. Originally this service was simply called a “through transport” service where the cargo was transshipped into deep-sea vessels. Now, however, with around the world services, and the use of major ports as hubs or load centers, feeder vessels become important, especially in regions such as the Far East and Southeast Asia. The “hub/feeder transport system” is increasingly essential to ports that may be busy because of the vast hinterland they serve but are prevented, perhaps by insufficient water depth and expensive facilities, from having the large, deep-sea container vessels calling directly.
The feeder system also benefits the deep sea carriers who can restrict the “motherships” from calling at selected high-volume load centers or “hubs”, thus saving operational costs. The deep sea carrier can also concentrate on the more efficient ports.
Under the feeder service system, one bill of lading may still be used.