STEVE'S GUIDE TO
MODERN COMMERCIAL
CARGO VESSEL TYPES
















Until the 20th Century, ships generally, were all-purpose cargo vessels, with very little specialisation (with the exception of tank vessels which first appeared in the 1880s). All cargoes were carried in general purpose holds, or on deck. Modern commercial vessels are designed and built to carry specific cargo types. The names we give to the various vessel types reflect the type of cargo for which they are designed and built to carry. For example, A "bulk carrier" is specially designed to carry cargo "in bulk" and the hatch cover and hold design is focussed on the carriage of raw dry cargo goods, such as coal, grain, iron ore and bauxite, which are simply poured into cavernous holds then grabbed and bulldozed out at the port of discharge.

Tankers carry liquid cargo in tanks The most obvious example is the well-known oil tanker, but even within this generic type, each tanker is specially designed to carry a particular type of liquid cargo, not just crude oil. Other liquid cargoes would include petroleum products, chemicals and yes, even wine ! 2 recent hybrid designs of tanker carry Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), both of which need to be kept under pressure and at low temperature to maintain the cargo in a liquified state. A further hybrid is the Floating Production, Storage and Offloading unit (FPSO), which is usually a large tanker (maybe a converted old VLCC, but now brand new specialised FPSOs are being built) specifically designed for the oil industry, working offshore where an onshore facility to process and store offshore oil is deemed impractical.

Container ships (a revolutionary idea in the past 50 years) carry their cargo in standard size containers, normally either 20 ft units (TEU) or 40 ft units (FEU), for speed of loading and discharge. A modern container ship can discharge a cargo in as many hours as it used to take in the equivilent number of days. This "brainchild" of Malcolm McLean, (a former New Jersey truck driver)found no interest among shipowners in the 1940s and 1950s, so he built his own to prove the concept. Within 10 years, the container ship revolution had started. From just a few hundred containers, modern ships can carry many thousands.

Cargo Design for particular cargoes = the vessel type - Simple really, but something the BBC have never really understood. Whenever a vessel (other than a tanker or passenger ship) gets onto the BBC News, it is termed a "freighter". ANY vessel that carries goods for reward is a "freighter", so it just goes to prove what "land-lubbers" the BBC are !

Click on any of the images below

to learn about specialised vessels commonly used in today's maritime commercial world.


BULK
CARRIERS

.
.
OIL
TANKERS

.

REFRIGERATED
CARGO SHIPS

.

LIVESTOCK
CARRIERS

.


LNG CARRIERS

.

CAR CARRIERS

.

CONTAINER SHIPS

.

DRY CARGO
VESSELS

HEAVY LIFT
VESSELS


TUGS

RO- RO
VESSELS


Steve's other Maritime Pages
Click on any of the portholes below to go to another part of this site.




The World's 8
Major Canals.

Maritime
Disasters.

Useful maritime
links.

Steve's
Homepage.


This is an entirely non-commercial website providing information for general public educational interest purposes only.
If we have accidentally breached a copyright attaching to any of the facts or photographs appearing on this page,
and we shall remove the item immediately.

While great efforts have be made in trying to ensure the information given is accurate, the website creator shall take no responsibility for any errors nor be under any liability for any reliance put upon the information provided. Anyone seeking completely accurate information should visit commercial websites that seek to provide such information.

The owners of this website shall be under no liability and shall not be responsible for accessing links suggested to external websites (including those of sponsors of this website) from this website. Sponsorship of this website does not imply any endorsement of the products or services of the sponsors by the owners of this website.