Refrigerated Cargo Carrying Vessels ("Reefers") are purpose built to carry fruit, meat and other food products across the sea in a fresh and clean manner.
Perhaps the most famous of these types of vessels are the banana carriers, trading between the Caribbean and Europe. They are sleak and fast, as their trade demands, with cooling (refrigeration) equipment to keep their cargoes fresh.
Historically the months of February and March see the greatest use of these vessels. This gives a clue to their current weakness, from a commerical point of view. Any vessel which is governed by highly seasonal trades, will inevitably have high and low activity periods during a year. At some points, there is very little work for dedicated refrigerated cargo vessels, making them rather inefficient, compared to container ships, (now with reefer box capabilities) which can switch trades in low season to carry other goods. The dedicated reefer vessel (probably the most loved type of cargo ship to work on as a seaman) is therefore becoming less common, with fewer being built each year.
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