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Tramp trade

A boat or ship engaged in the tramp trade is one which

does not have a xed schedule or published ports of call.
As opposed to freight liners, tramp ships trade on the
spot market with no xed schedule or itinerary/ports-ofcall(s). A steamship engaged in the tramp trade is sometimes called a tramp steamer; the similar terms tramp
freighter and tramper are also used. Chartering is done
chiey on London, New York, Singapore shipbroking exchanges. The Baltic Exchange serves as a type of stock
market index for the trade.

of the area. Tramp ships often carry with them their own
gear (booms, cranes, derricks) in case the next port lacks
the proper equipment for loading or discharging cargo.[3]

2 Tramp charters
The tramp ship is a contract carrier. Unlike a liner, often
called a common carrier, which has a xed schedule and
a published tari, the ideal tramp can carry anything to
anywhere, and freight rates are inuenced by supply and
demand.[3] To generate business, a contract to lease the
vessel known as a charter party is drawn up between the
ship owner and the charterer. There are three types of
charters, voyage, time and demise.

The term tramper is derived from the British meaning

of "tramp" as itinerant beggar or vagrant; in this context it is rst documented in the 1880s, along with ocean
tramp (at the time many sailing vessels engaged in irregular trade as well).

2.1 Voyage charter


Voyage charter: The voyage charter is the most common

charter in tramp shipping, according to Schiels.[3] The
owner of the tramp is obligated to provide a seaworthy
ship while the charterer is obligated to provide a full load
of cargo.[1] This type of charter is the most lucrative, but
can be the riskiest due to lack of new charterers. During a voyage charter a part or all of a vessel is leased to
the charterer for a voyage to a port or a set of dierent ports. There are two types of voyage charter net
form and gross form.[1] Under the net form, the cargo
a tramp ship carries is loaded, discharged, and trimmed
at the charterers expense. Under the gross form the expense of cargo loading, discharging and trimming is on
the owner. The charterer is only responsible to provide
the cargo at a specied port and to accept it at the destination port. Time becomes an issue in the voyage charter if the tramp ship is late in her schedule or loading or
discharging are delayed. If a tramp ship is delayed the
charterer pays demurrage, which is a penalty, to the ship
owner. The number of days a tramp ship is chartered for
is called lay days.

The tramp trade rst took o in England around the

mid 19th century. The dependability and timeliness of
steam ships was found to be more cost-eective than sail.
Coal was needed for ships boilers, and the demand created a business opportunity for moving large amounts
of best Welsh coal[1] to various seaports in England.
Within a few years tramp ships became the workhorses
of trade, transporting coal and nished products from English cities to the rest of the world.

The size of tramp ships remained relatively constant from

1900 to 1940, at about 7,000 to 10,000 deadweight tons
(dwt.). During World War II, the United States created
the Liberty Ship; a single design that could be used to
carry just about anything, which weighed in at 10,500
dwt.[1] The U.S. produced 2708 Liberty Ships and they
were used on every international trade route.[1][2] After
World War II, economies of scale took over and the size
of tramp ships exploded to keep up with a booming supply and demand cycle. During this time the bulk carrier
became the tramp of choice for many owners and operators. The bulk carrier was designed to carry coal, grain,
and ore, which gave it more exibility and could service 2.2 Time charter
more ports than some of its ancestors, which only carried
a single commodity.
Time charter: In a time charter the owner provides a vesToday the tramp trade includes all types of vessels, from sel that is fully manned and equipped. The owner probulk carriers to tankers. Each can be used for a specic vides the crew, but the crew takes orders from the charmarket, or ships can be combined like the oil, bulk, ore terer. The owner is also responsible for insuring the vescarriers to accommodate many dierent markets depend- sel, repairs the vessel may need, engine parts, and food for
ing where the ship is located and the supply and demand ships personnel. The charterer is responsible for every1


thing else. The main advantage of the time charter is that market for some type of commodity somewhere and the
it diverts the costs of running a ship to the charterer.[1]
company with the ships able to exploit that market will do
better than the company relying on liner services alone.


Demise charter

Demise charter: The demise charter is the least used in

the tramp trade because it heavily favors the owner.[1]
The ship owner only provides a ship devoid of any crew,
stores, or fuel. It is the Charterers responsibility to provide everything the ship will need. The ship owner must
provide a seaworthy vessel, but once the charterer accepts the vessel, the responsibility of seaworthiness is the
charterers. The charterer crews the vessel, but the owner
can make recommendations. There are no standardized
forms in a demise charter, contracts can vary greatly, and
are written up to meet the needs of the charterer.


Tramp ship owners and tramp ship charterers rely on brokers to nd cargoes for their ships to carry.[1] A broker
understands international trade conditions, the movements of goods, market prices, and the availability of the
owners ships.
The Baltic Exchange, in London, is the physical headquarters for tramp ship brokerage.[1] The Baltic Exchange
works like an organized market, and provides a meeting
place for ship owners, brokers, and charterers. It also provides easy access to information on market uctuations,
and commodity prices to all the parties involved. Brokers can use it to quickly match a cargo to a ship or ship
to a cargo depending on whom they are working for. A
committee of owners, brokers, and charterers are elected
to manage the exchange to ensure everyones interests are
represented.[4] With the speed of todays communications
the oor of the Baltic Exchange is not nearly as populated
as it once was, but the information and networking the exchange provides is still an asset to the tramp trade.

Tramps today

Due to the explosion of liner services, and in large part,

due to containerization since the 1960s, the tramp trade
has decreased, but is by no means forgotten. A contemporary trend in the shipping business called marketing mix
has resulted in renewed interest in tramp shipping.[5] To
increase prots, liner companies are looking at investing
into tramp ships to create a buer when the market is
down. For example, Mitsui OSK Lines possesses a large
eet with tramp ships and liners. With both types of shipping covered they are able to service a world economy
even in a down market.[5] The beauty of tramp ships is
they are relied upon at a moments notice to service any
type of market. Even in a down economy there will be a

5 Tramp ship companies

United Maritime Group
D/S Norden

6 Further reading
Freeman, N. (1998.) Seaspray and Whisky: Reminiscence of a tramp ship voyage. Pleasantville N.Y.:
The Akadine Press. ISBN 1-888173-38-6
Huber, Mark (2001). Ch. 9: Chartering and Operations. Tanker operations: a handbook for the
person-in-charge (PIC). Cambridge, MD: Cornell
Maritime Press. ISBN 0-87033-528-6.
Turpin, Edward A.; McEwen, William A. (1980).
Ch. 18: United States Navigation Laws and Ships
Business. Merchant Marine Ocers Handbook.
Centreville, MD: Cornell Maritime Press. ISBN 087033-056-X.

7 References
[1] Buckley, J. (2008.) The Business of Shipping. Centreville,
MD: Cornell Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-87033-580-8
[2] Gripanios, H. (1959). Tramp Shipping. London: Thomas
Nelson and Sons.
[3] Schiels, K. (1994) Ship Agency: A guide to tramp ship
agency. Surrey, UK. Fair Play Publications. ISBN 1870093-75-5
[4] Gripanios 1959
[5] Plomaritou, E. (2008). A proposed application of the
marketing mix concept to tramp & liner shipping companies. Journal of Contemporary Management Issues, 13(1)

8 External links
Internet Guide to Freighter Travel traveling by
tramp freighters
Hurd, Archibald, Sir (1922). The triumph of the
tramp ship. London: Cassell. Retrieved 2012-0324.

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