There are three broad categories of vessel:
- bulk: liquid/wet/tankers and dry,
- intermodal: containers,
- and specialized (everything else)
The bulkers carry cargo that is not unitized and tends to be in a free flowing state either liquid/wet (tankers) or dry, whereas intermodal ships are mainly container carriers.
Size in bulk carriers is primarily expressed in Metric Tons Deadweight (MT DWT) which in effect is the cargo carrying capacity of the ship including bunker fuel and constants. Their Length Over All (LOA) is another principal characteristic as well as Draft (max depth of immersed hull).
Size for Containers is primarily expressed in number of TEUs (boxes of Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit) that they can carry.
Smaller sized bulkers (Panamax and below) invariably are equipped with their own gear (deck cranes) and thus can be self-loading/unloading. After that, there are several other specialized types of vessel such as Livestock Carriers, Refrigerated Ships (Refers), Car Carriers, Natural or Petroleum Gas Carriers, Deep Sea Drilling Ships, Barges, Cement Carriers, Ice Breakers, Offshore Supply Vessels (support to Oil /Rigs Platforms), Fishing Ships, Dredgers, Passenger Ferries and Cruise Ships, and Ro-Ros (Roll on- Roll off ferries).
These are the work horses of the fleet, transporting raw materials such as iron ore and coal, identifiable by the hatches raised above deck level which cover the large cargo holds. The sizes of bulk carriers (as well as Tankers) are measured in Deadweight Tonnes (DWT), a measure of how much mass a ship can safely carry excluding the weight of the ship herself.
Figure: bulk carrier size ranges
180,000MT DWT, 290 M LENGTH OVER ALL (LOA), 19 M DRAFT, 9 HOLDS / 9 HATCHES
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 14KNOTS ON 50 MT FUEL/DAY
CARGOES: IRON ORE & COAL IN BULK
Capes as they are known, took their name because, due to their size, they cannot make use of the Panama Canal, instead having to cross from one ocean to the other via Cape Horn. In fully laden condition some of the larger capes cannot use the Suez Canal either, having to go via the Cape of Good Hope. Extra-large cape size vessels have been constructed to service purely the South America to China Iron Ore trades. They are as larger than 200,000MT DWT and can even stretch to 400,000MT DWT, monsters know VLOCs (Very Large Ore Carriers). Small capes known also as baby capes of about 120,000MT DWT can carry grains in bulk in addition to coal and ore.
In 2009 the Panama Canal Authority published the New Panamax (or Neopanamax, up to 120,000MT DWT) specification which came into effect when the canal’s third set of locks, larger than the original two, opened on 26 June 2016. With the new locks, the Panama Canal is able to handle vessels with an overall length of 366m, 51.25m beam and 15.2m draft.
95,000MT DWT, 235M LOA, 14.5M DRAFT, 7 HOLDS / 7 HATCHES
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTIONS: 14 KNOTS ON 39MT FUEL/DAY
CARGOES: IRON ORE, COAL, BAUXITE and to a lesser extent GRAINS, FERTILIZERS, CEMENT
Post Panamax Bulkers were developed to load more cargo in draft restricted areas in vessels that could not go through the original Panama Canal due to their breadth.
82,000MT DWT, 229 M LOA, 14M DRAFT, 7 HOLDS,
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 14 KNOTS ON 37 MT FUEL/DAY
CARGOES: AS PANAMAX
Kamsarmax design is similar to Panamax with a bigger LOA to maximize intake of Bauxite out of Port Kamsar at Equatorial Guinea.
Other categories also occur in regional trade, for example:
- “Malaccamax”: is the largest vessel that can pass through the Straits of Malacca.
- “Newcastlemax”: the largest vessel able to enter the port of Newcastle
- “Setouchmax” : the largest vessel able to navigate the Setouchi Sea, Japan
- “Seawaymax”: the largest vessel that can pass through the canal locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway (Great Lakes, Canada)
- “Dunkirkmax”: is the maximum size allowable for the eastern harbour lock in the Port of Dunkirk (France)
75,000MT DWT, 225M LOA, 13.5M DRAFT, 7 HOLDS,
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 14KNOTS ON 34MT FUEL/DAY
CARGOES: COAL, IRON ORE, GRAINS, STEELS, FERTILIZERS, CEMENT, ALUMINA, BAUXITE
The name came about as it was the larger bulker able to transit the Panama Canal laden before it was expanded. This is the landmark ship of Greek shipping.
40-60,000MT DWT, 170-190M LOA, 11-12.8M DRAFT, 5 HOLDS, 4-5 CRANES FOR SELF LOADING /UNLOADING
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 14KNOTS ON 25-30MT FUEL/DAY
CARGOES: GRAINS, NUMEROUS BULK CARGOES INCLUDING STEEL PRODUCTS, PALLETIZED CARGOES
The Supramax was developed out of the Panamax and is primarily smaller enough to suit the grain cargo sizes as exported out of the Mississippi River.
16-39,000MT DWT, 130-160M LOA, 9-10M DRAFT, 5 HOLDS, 4-5 CRANES FOR SELF LOADING/UNLOADING
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 14KNOTS ON 15-25MT FUEL/DAY
CARGOES: GENERAL BULK & BREAK-BULK CARGOES
All ships including this size and below can also transport Break-bulk cargoes. Break-bulk are unitized bulk cargoes such as palletized or bagged bulks.
(ALSO FOR COASTAL USE), MOST ARE GEARED
1,500-16,000MT DWT, 70-130M LOA, 3-9M DRAFT,
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 12-13 KNOTS ON 7-15MT FUEL/DAY
CARGOES: VARIOUS INCLUDING BREAK-BULK
Tankers transport crude oil, chemicals and petroleum products. Tankers can appear similar to bulk carriers, but the deck is flush and covered by oil pipelines and vents.
Figure: tanker size ranges
320-550,000MT DWT, 330-430M LOA, 21-25M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 15KNOTS ON 120-160MT FUEL/DAY
CARGO: CRUDE OIL
The majority of the tanker fleet is now over 300,000MT DWT, with vessels over 400,000MT DWT relatively few. The typical parcel size for a cargo of crude oil is around 2 million barrels or about 280,000MT DWT, so cargoes for ULCCs had to be increased specifically to suit that size ship.
160-320, 000MT DWT, 290-330M LOA, 19-21M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 15 KNOTS ON 90-120MT FUEL/DAY
CARGO: CRUDE OIL
Known also as 2-million barrel crude ships
130-180,000MT DWT, 250-290M LOA, 15-19M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 15KNOTS ON 45-55MT FUEL/DAY
CARGO: CRUDE OIL
The largest tanker able to transit the SUEZ Canal fully laden. Primarily works in the Atlantic and mainly loads out of W. African ports/terminals. Known also as 1-million barrel crude ship
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 14.5 KNOTS ON 39-44MT FUEL/DAY
CARGO: CRUDE OIL MAINLY, LR2 TYPE CAPABLE OF CLEAN PETROLEUM PRODUCTS ALSO
The name comes from the Average Freight Rate Assessment (AFRA) system introduced by SHELL in the early 50’s and which together with other such systems was a preamble to the standardization of the tanker industry through the later established World Scale Rate system. This ship-size was the largest on the AFRA scale. With the right coating on its holds it can also transport clean petroleum products hence its name is also known as Long Range 2 Tanker
60-80,000MT DWT, 213-228M LOA, 12.3-14.7M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 14.5-15KNOTS ON 38-44MT FUEL/DAY
CARGO: CRUDE OIL MAINLY, LR1 TYPE IS CAPABLE OF CLEAN PETROLEUM PRODUCTS ALSO
Same case as the dry Panamax bulker, it is the largest tanker able to cross the Panama Canal laden. With the right coating on its holds it can transport clean petroleum products hence its name also known as Long Range 1 Tanker
30-45,000MT DWT, 175-185M LOA, 9.5-12M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 15 KNOTS ON 28-37MT FUEL/DAY
CARGO: MAINLY CLEAN PETROLEUM PRODUCTS, CHEMICALS (IF CHEMICAL TANKER CLASS), VEGETABLE OILS, MOLASSES
Also known as Medium Range Product Tankers
This category has smaller coastal ships as well as including bunkering tankers. They carry only petroleum products such as Kerosene, Gasoline, Fuel Oil, Heating Oil, Chemicals, Vegetable Oils. If classed as Chemical tankers they, can in addition to the above, carry also liquid chemicals. Depending on their degree of Chemical certification, they can transport from harmless to very harmful chemical cargoes usually in stainless steel tanks.
Container ships carry most of the world’s manufactured goods and products in standardized containers, usually through scheduled liner services. The size of containers is measured in TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units), based on the volume of a 20-foot-long container (a standardized metal box).
Figure: container ship size ranges
14,500 TEUs +, 360-400M LOA, 15-16M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 24KNOTS ON 260-280 MT FUEL/DAY
10-14,500 TEUs, 349-360M LOA, 14.5-15.5 M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 24KNOTS ON 240-260 MT FUEL/DAY
These vessels were too large to go through the original Panama Canal, however with the expansion project complete, they now can travel through the expanded locks.
5,101-10,000 TEUs, 275-349M LOA, 13-14.5M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 23-25 KNOTS ON 150-240MT FUEL/DAY
Post Panamax refer to ships that are larger than Panamax and that did not fit in the original Panama Canal locks.
3,001-5100 TEUs, 220-275M LOA, 11.5-13M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 21-23KNOTS ON 90-150 MT FUEL/DAY
These are ships that could go through the Panama Canal before the expansion project was completed in 2016.
2,001-3,000 TEUs, 200-220M LOA, 11-11.5M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 22 KNOTS ON 90 MT FUEL/DAY
These ships are called feeders as they feed off larger container vessel that require very deep ports. They typically carry their own gear in form of sets of cranes with a significant heavy lift capacity (40MT), thus they can self load/unload
1,001-2,000 TEUs, 150-175M LOA, 8-11M DRAFT
TYPICAL SPEED & CONSUMPTION: 18-22 ON 38-60MT FUEL/DAY
Valuations are estimates of the market value of a specified ship at a specified time. It is, in the valuer’s opinion, the price that would be agreed by both a buyer and a seller in an “arm’s length” transaction. Valuations may be issued ad hoc or on a regular basis. Usually they are required by banks (to evaluate their maritime portfolio as well as to quantify the risks of loss on default), ship owners (to assess selling or buying opportunities), lawyers and insurance companies (in case of legal and insurance claims) and occasionally by other stakeholders. In most cases, valuations are produced by certified Sale & Purchase brokers or other professional valuers.
Crude oil and oil product carriers are more expensive to build compared to dry bulkers of the same size. There are also differences in the shipbuilding cost depending on the country where a ship is built. The most expensive shipyards are located in Japan. Next comes South Korea and the least expensive are situated in China. It is widely believed that the quality of the ships closely follows their price.
Figure: Price Indices and Contracts (expressed in compensated gross tonnage per quarter, CGT)
As can be seen from the chart above, new contracting volumes soared in 2013 (expressed in terms of CGT – an indicator of the amount of work that is necessary to build a given ship and is calculated by multiplying the tonnage of a ship by a coefficient, which is determined according to type and size of a particular ship). The above chart also highlights the fact that trends in contracting precede movements in price indices – more contracting likely eventually leads to an oversupply and then a fall in prices.
Unlike newbuilds, buyers and sellers of second hand ships do not have to wait for about two years to have the ships delivered. So, price movements in second hand vessels tend to reflect industry participants’ expectations regarding the medium-term fundamentals. The price of second-hand ships correlates with movements in spot and timecharter rates – when market conditions are good, second hand prices are high and in extreme cases have even exceeded newbuild prices. When poor, second hand prices tend to be closer to the scrap value.
The major stages of the life of a ship are:
- Operational period (with potential long or short idle periods in-between)
- Demolition (recycling)
A ship is expected to be in good service for at least 15 years. In many cases, ships may remain in service for much longer, e.g., 20 or 30 years. The physical condition of the ship and market conditions (freight rate levels) as well as the price levels of steel are the major determinants for the decision over whether a ship will be demolished.
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