The UK ports industry is the second largest in Europe and each year handles 500 million tonnes of sea freight to the USA and further afield. Great Britain and Northern Ireland are home to 120 commercial ports, but in reality, most freight goes through the top 20 and it is most likely that, when you are shipping freight from the UK to the USA, your cargo will have started its journey at one of these.
Here is an introduction to the biggest cargo-handling ports across the United Kingdom so you can get a picture of where they come into your freight-forwarding needs.
The main container shipping ports for freight from the UK to the USA
There are major port authorities in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with years of experience shipping from the UK and specializing in different consignments of cargo.
Shipping from England
- The United Kingdom’s capital city, London, is home to an all-purpose port in the southeast of England that opens on to the River Thames and the North Sea. The port is growing continuously, especially over the course of the last five years, and during the first three quarters of 2020, it handled the majority of the United Kingdom’s freight. This included dried and frozen produce alongside heavy lift and motor vehicle shipping making it a truly versatile shipping port.
- A further all-purpose port can be found in Liverpool, in the northwest of England. The most centrally located port in the UK, it handles a diverse range of cargo, among them, containers and energy products.
- Felixstowe, Suffolk on the East Anglian coast is a major shipping hub. The eighth busiest port for container traffic in Europe, it handles over 4 million TEUs each year, so you know your UK-USA freight will be in safe and experienced hands. One key aspect of Felixstowe is that it is a specialized container port with bespoke break bulk lifting services. This is a solution to loading consignments that are not suitable for a container and might have more specific handling requirements, such as pieces of machinery or even large works of art.
- Immingham, on the east coast of England, has the largest tonnage capacity and coal and oil feature prominently among the cargo it handles. In 2020, it came in second to London in terms of freight handling. The type of cargo handled is pretty wide-ranging and includes ro-ro, containers, agribulk, and project cargo.
- Southampton, on England’s south coast, is a deep-water harbor. It deals particularly with vehicle cargo traffic and is the United Kingdom’s second-largest container terminal. Being equipped to handle virtually any type of shipment, it is a natural choice when shipping freight UK to USA.
- Dover is a ferry port in the South East of England on the English Channel. Located at the closest point to mainland Europe, it is a useful gateway to the rest of the continent. However, it offers more than ferry traffic and one of its services is shipping oil and gas from the North Sea to destinations including the US Gulf.
Shipping from Scotland
- Aberdeen, in northeast Scotland, is a doorway to the North Sea and beyond. It also serves the offshore energy sector with oil and gas as well as the renewable sector among its specialties. Consequently, they are more than able to support the equipment for offshore windfarms.
- Orkney and Shetland are two archipelagos in northeast Scotland with very close links to the oil terminals in the North Sea.
Shipping from Northern Ireland
- Belfast, in the east of Northern Ireland, opens onto the Irish Sea. This is Northern Ireland’s main logistics hub and also a link to the Republic of Ireland. Over the course of 2019, 542,000 freight vehicles passed through the port.
The number and range of ports across Great Britain and Northern Ireland mean that there is one that will be the best suited to the cargo that you are shipping freight from the UK to Houston. Texas International Freight is well versed in the specialties of the UK’s ports, so we can advise you on the best course of action. Contact us today for a quote.