Determining the best ship loading strategy during military deployments
This study aims to examine ship loading strategies during large-scale military deployments. Ships are usually loaded to a stowage goal of about 65% of the ship's capacity. The authors identify how much cargo to load onto ships for each sailing and propose lower stowage goals that could improve the delivery of forces during the deployment.Design/methodology/approachThe authors construct several mixed integer programs to identify optimal ship loading strategies that minimize delivery timelines for notional, but realistic, problem variables. The authors study the relative importance of these variables using experimental designs, regressions, correlations and chi-square tests of the empirical results.FindingsThe research specifies the conditions during which ships should be light loaded, i.e. loaded to less than 65% of total capacity. Empirical results show cargo delivered up to 16% faster with a light-loaded strategy compared to fully loaded ships.Research limitations/implicationsThis work assumes deterministic sailing times and ship loading times. Also, all timing aspects of the problem are estimated to the nearest natural number of days.Practical implicationsThis research provides important new insights about optimal ship loading strategies, which were not previously quantified. More importantly, logistics planners could use these insights to reduce sealift delivery timelines during military deployments.Originality/valueMost ship routing and scheduling problems minimize costs as the primary goal. This research identifies the situations in which ships transporting military forces should be light loaded, thereby trading efficiency for effectiveness, to enable faster overall delivery of unit equipment to theater seaports.