SHIPPING TERMINOLOGY

The vocabulary list with explanations to some of the most common terminology used within shipping industries.

Panamax

230m Max DWT 80,000

Aframax

245m Max DWT 120,000

Suezmax

285m Max DWT 200,000

VLCC

330m Max DWT 320,000

ULCC

415m Max DWT 550,000

Aframax

Crude oil tanker or product tanker too large to pass through the Panama Canal and below 120,000 dwt.

AHTS

Anchor Handling Tug Supply. Offshore vessel used for jobs such as the relocation of oil rigs and anchors of the oil rigs.

API

American Petroleum Institute.

API Gravity

An arbitrary scale expressing the gravity or density of liquid petroleum products. The measuring scale is calibrated in terms of degrees API. The higher the API gravity, the  lighter the compound. Light crudes generally exceed 38 degrees API and heavy crudes are commonly labeled as all crudes with an API gravity of 22 degrees or below.

Back-haul

The leg of the trade route that has the lowest container volumes is often called ‘back-haul’, whereas the return leg is often referred to as ‘head-haul’.

Barrel

A volumetric unit measure for crude oil and petroleum products equivalent to 42 U.S. gallons, or approximately 159 liters.

BHP

Break Horse Power. The amount of engine horsepower.

Bow thrusters

Propeller in the front of the ship enabling it to turn sideways without forward momentum.

Brent

Term used for crude oil from the North Sea. Brent oil is traded at the International Petroleum Exchange in London, and the price of Brent is used as a benchmark for several other types of European oil.

Bulk Vessel

Description of vessels transporting large cargo quantities, including coal, iron ore, steel, grain, gravel, oil, etc.

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Bunker

Fuel for vessels.

Capesize

Dry bulk carrier of more than approximately 100,000 dwt; too large to pass through the Panama Canal.

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cbm

Cubic Meter.

CEU

Car equivalent unit. Unit of measurement indicating the car carrying capacity of a vessel.

CGT

Compensated Gross Tonnage. International unit of measurement that facilitates a comparison of different shipyards’ production regardless of the types of vessel produced.

Chemical tanker

According to Danish Ship Finance’s definition – a tanker with zinc, epoxy, marineline coating or stainless steel tanks  (IMO I-II).

CIRR

Commercial Interest Reference Rate – for further details, see the OECD website.

Clarksons

British ship brokering and research company – www.clarksons.net  

Clean products

Refers to light, refined oil products such as jet fuel, gasoline, diesel oil and naphtha.

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COA

Contract of Affreightment. Contract between shipping company and charterer concerning the freight of a predetermined volume of goods within a given period of time and/or at given intervals.

Coating

The internal coatings applied to the tanks of a product tanker. Coated tanks enable the ship to transport corrosive refined oil products and it facilitates extensive cleaning of the tanks, which may be required in the transportation of certain oil product types.

Container conference:

Collaboration agreement between a number of container shipping lines on trade routes or regions for the purpose of enhancing efficiency of the vessel capacity and harmonizing price/teu.

CSR

Common Structural Rules. A common set of construction rules agreed by the leading international classification societies to be applied to all new construction contracts from April 1, 2006 between shipyards and shipowners for tankers of 150m or more in length and bulk carriers of 90m or more in length. The CSR require the ships to be built to a higher standard, thus enabling the ships to trade for longer periods of time..

Deep Sea

Refers to trading routes longer than 3,000 nautical miles.

Deep Sea Chemical

A chemical tanker above 20,000 dwt.

Dirty products

Refers to heavy oils such as crude oil or refined oil products such as fuel oil or bunker oil.

DP

Dynamic Positioning. Special instruments on board that in conjunction with bow thrusters and main propellers enable the ship to position itself in a fixed position in relation to the seabed.

Dwt

Dead Weight Tons. International unit of measurement that indicates the loading capabilities in metric tonnes of the particular vessel, including the weight of crew, passengers, stores, bunkers etc. 

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E&P

 Exploration and Production. 

Feeder

Small container carrier.

FPSO

F(P)SO: Floating (Production) Storage Offloading Unit. Ship used as substitute for a conventional oil platform at oil fields that are either too deep in the ground or too small to justify the use of a conventional oil platform. If the ship is an FPSO the ship has oil (or gas) processing capabilities.

Front-haul

The leg of the trade route that has the highest cargo volumes is often called ‘front-haul’ whereas the return leg is often referred to as ‘back-haul’.

Geared

Indicates that a vessel is equipped with a crane or other lifting device.

Gearless

Indicates that a vessel is not equipped with a crane or other lifting device.

Gravity

Volume weight ratio of a substance calculated against the same volume of water at normal temperature and pressure.

GT

Gross Tons. Unit of 100 cubic feet or 2.831 cubic meters, used in arriving at the calculation of gross tonnage.

Handy, tank

Crude oil tanker or product tanker of between 10,000 and 25,000 dwt.

Handymax, dry cargo

Dry bulk carrier of between approximately 40,000 and 60,000 dwt.

Handysize, dry cargo

Dry bulk carrier of between approximately 10,000 and 40,000 dwt.

Head-haul

The leg of the trade route that has the highest container volume is often called ‘head-haul’, whereas the return leg is often referred to as ‘back-haul’. On routes where there is a great trading volume mismatch between head-haul and back-haul, the head-haul demand will most often determine the freight rate level.

HNGC

Handy Natural Gas Carrier. LNG tanker between 60,000 cbm and 99,999 cbm

IMO

International Maritime Organization. A maritime organization under the UN, www.imo.org.

IMO I-III

Quality grades for tankers for the permission to transport different chemical and oil products. IMO I are the most hazardous products, IMO III the least hazardous.

Intermediate, Chemical

A chemical tanker between 10,000 dwt and 19,999 dwt.

LGC

Large Gas Carrier. LPG ship with capacity between 40,000 and 60,000 Cu.M.

LNG Vessels

Liquefied Natural Gas. Vessels for transporting liquefied natural gas (methane gas).

LNGC

 Large Natural Gas Carrier. LNG tanker between 140,000 and 199,999 cbm.

Lo-Lo

Lift on – Lift off. Cargo carrying vessel that has its cargo lifted on and/or off. This type of ship may also have passenger carrying capacity (Pax-Lo) and/or Ro-Ro features (Ro-Lo).

LPG Vessels

Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Vessels used to transport ammonia and liquid gases (ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene, butane, butylenes, isobutene and isobutylene).The gases are transported under pressure and/or refrigerated.

LR1, product tanker

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LR2, product tanker

Long Range 2. Product tanker too large to pass through the Panama Canal of approximately +75,000 dwt.

MBTU

Million British Thermal Unit. Unit of measurement indicating the amount of energy included – equivalent to joule or calorie.

Medium, tanker (MR)

Medium Range. Product tanker of between 10,000 and 55,000 dwt.

MGC

Medium Gas Carrier. LPG with capacity between 20,000 and 40,000 Cu.M.

MNGC

Medium Natural Gas Carrier. LNG tanker between 100,000 and 139,999 cbm.

MMboe

Million Barrels of Oil Equivalent. Measure of the amount of barrels of oil/gas contained in a field.

Multi-Purpose

Dry bulk carrier with multiple applications, mainly as a feeder vessel or for special cargo.

Nautical Mile

Distance unit measure of 1,852 meters, or 6,076.12 ft.

Offshore vessel

Vessel serving the offshore oil industry.

OPEC

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Panamax, container

Container carrier with the maximum dimensions for passing through the Panama Canal (width of 32.21 metres, length of 291 metres) of approximately 3,000—5,100 teu.

Panamax, tanker

Crude oil tanker or product tanker with the maximum dimensions for passing through the Panama Canal (width of 32.21 metres and length of 289.5 metres) of approximately 80,000 – 60,000 dwt.

Panamax, dry cargo

Dry bulk vessel with the maximum dimensions for passing through the Panama Canal (width of 32.21 metres and length of 289.5 metres) of approximately 60,000 – 100,000 dwt.

PCC

Pure Car Carrier. Car carrier built exclusively to transport passenger cars.

PCTC

Pure Car Truck Carrier. Car carrier built to transport small and large passenger cars (SUVs, MPVs, etc.), trucks and other contractor equipment.

Post-Panamax

Container vessel of approximately 5,100+ teu that is too large to pass through the Panama Canal.

Product tanker

Tanker vessel with coated tanks used to transport refined oil products

PSV

Platform Supply Vessel. Offshore vessel serving the offshore oil installations.

Reefer

Container vessel with cooling/freezing capacity.

Reefer vessel

Bulk carriers with a large reefer capacity in the holds.

Ro-Con

Ro-Ro vessel with container capacity.

Ro-Pax

Ro-Ro vessel with passenger capacity

Ro-Ro

Roll On – Roll Off. Common description of vessels on which the cargo is rolled on board and ashore.

ROV-Support Vessel

Ship with Remotely Operated Vehicle (a robot) used e.g. to inspect underwater cables and pipes.

Seismic Vessel

Ship with on board sound and electromagnetic instruments for gauging the structure of the layers in the ground. The results are used as a tool to best decide where the oil and gas formations are located in the ground.

Semi-submersible

A semi-submersible is a self-propelled drilling rig, capable of lowering the well deck below the water’s surface.

Short-sea

 Refers to trading routes shorter than 3,000 nautical miles.

Short Sea, Chemical:

A chemical tanker smaller than 10,000 dwt.

SNGC

Small Natural Gas Carrier. LNG tanker smaller than 60,000 cbm.

Stand-by vessel

Offshore vessel used to monitor and fight fires and environmental accidents on oil rigs.

Suezmax

Crude oil tanker with the maximum dimensions for passing through the Suez Canal (approximately 120,000 – 200,000 dwt.).

Teu

Twenty Feet Equivalent Unit. Container boxes with a length of 20 feet (about 6 metres) which forms the basis of describing the capacity of a container vessel.

Teu-knots

Unit of measure that takes account of the speed of the ships when estimating the actual supply of ships within a segment.

Ton-nautical mile

Unit of measurement indicating the volume of cargo and how far it has been transported.

Tonnage

Synonymous with “vessel

ULCC

Ultra Large Crude Carrier. Crude oil tanker above 320,000 dwt.

Vetting:

Approval procedure whereby e.g. the technical standards of a ship are surveyed.

VLCC

 Very Large Crude Carrier. Crude oil tanker of between approximately 200,000 and 320,000 dwt.

VLGC

 Very Large Gas Carrier. LPG ship with capacity above 60,000 cbm.

VLNGC

Very Large Natural Gas Carrier. LNG tanker above 200,000 cbm.

WTI

 West Texas Intermediate. Oil price benchmark in the USA.

Warehousing

 Warehousing is the storage of goods.

Way Bill

 A way bill is a description of goods shipped in a common carrier freight shipment.

Yard Dog

 A yard dog is a piece of equipment that is used to move trailers around a terminal facility. See also Haustler.

Yield Bucket

The remaining slot capacity for a trade/voyage in a certain port of loading after deduction of the allowance for specific contracts.

Zone Haulage Rate

The rate for which the carrier will undertake the haulage of goods or containers between either the place of delivery and the carrier’s appropriate terminal. Such haulage will be undertaken only subject to the terms and conditions of the tariff and of the carrier’s Combined Transport Bill of Lading.

Like many industries, logistics has a number of terms with specialized meanings. To help our customers and website visitors, we’ve compiled this handy list. Click on the + button to see the definitions.

A quick reference guide to ensure you never get tied up in transport terminology again.

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