What is a Stevedore and What Do They Do?

Stevedore at Port

There are a lot of essential players in the international shipping game. In 2018, nearly 31 million U.S. jobs were at least partially supported by international seaports — the primary location of stevedores. As the economies of world nations continue to intertwine, this number will only increase.  

Countless stakeholders — from shippers, freight forwarders, truck drivers and port workers — keep international trade moving. With so many moving pieces, however, it can be difficult to keep everything straight. 

Stevedores are a vital piece of international shipping; without their assistance, port productivity would grind to a halt. Few people truly understand the role stevedores play in their international supply chain, though. 

Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) has a front seat to the display of hard work and dedication from world’s stevedores on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at the main duties of stevedores and how they make an impact. 

What is a Stevedore?

Stevedores are workers who oversee the loading and offloading of cargo at international ports. Commonly referred to as “dockers” or “dock workers,” stevedores must be highly skilled in loading/unloading, lashing, stowing and securing all kinds of international cargo commodities. 

Although stevedores are usually referenced for their work at seaports, they can also be employed to load international cargo for transport via air, rail and land. 

Due to the size of marine vessels and cargo planes, many stevedores are needed to accomplish these tasks in a timely manner (vessels can’t stay at a port indefinitely). For this reason, there are firms that specialize in providing stevedore services at a high level — Stevedore Services of America (SSA) is one of the largest.

Two Stevedores Loading VesselStevedores have a rich history around the world. This is particularly true in the U.S. where stevedores have been impacting supply chains for nearly two centuries. 

Though historically, it has been common to use the term “stevedore” interchangeably with “longshoremen,” today, stevedore is commonly also used to describe the party responsible for overseeing unloading/loading operations — like a larger firm.  

What Are The Duties of a Stevedore?

Depending on where they work, these highly-skilled workers must understand the correct methods for loading and stowing freight for oceanic travel, rail movement, over-the-road transport and air shipment. 

Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Properly handling all kinds of cargo including hazardous materials.  
  • Safely securing freight using chains/straps,, marine shrinkwrap and welding solutions
  • Loading/offloading and transferring freight using heavy equipment like port cranes, roll trailers, mafi trailers, reach stackers,  and forklifts

In some cases, freight must be transported to an offsite location as stipulated by the receiving party. In these instances, port workers are charged with the responsibility of loading the freight onto the truck where it will continue its journey. 

To perform these duties at the high level expected of them, stevedores must be strong and in good physical condition. The most common set of skills associated with this role includes heavy equipment operation, safety, machine operation and operations management. Stevedores also work long hours in the completion of their duties.

What Else Should You Know About International Shipping?

Stevedores make an immeasurable impact on international supply chains. Now you have a better understanding of what stevedores do and how they directly impact your personal and professional life. 

That said, your international shipping journey doesn’t need to end here. There are a lot of other things to dive into next. 

Here are three free resources to get you started:

Drayage Service Explained: What it is, How it’s done and What it costs

How Do Port Service Charges Impact The Cost of Freight Shipping?

What Documents Are Required For International Shipping? 

Finally, if you’d like to learn more about our freight forwarding services at ATS International, you can find details here.

Tags: International Shipping, Terminology

Carl Verdon

Written by Carl Verdon

Carl has been working for ATS International, in various capacities, for more than 13 years. During this time, Carl's dedication to maintaining industry-leading service levels has helped customers move cargos around the world and back again... hundreds of times over. Today, as a customer service and sales manager, Carl enjoys the unique challenge that each international shipment presents as he works with his team to promote the ATS name on a global scale.

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