You are on page 1of 3


Current seagoing commercial vessels come in all shapes and sizes and are built to convey a
wide assortment of cargoes. There are many different types of commercial maritime vessels
and each vessel type is built specifically for the type of cargo the vessel will be transporting.

These vessels are built to optimize the transportation process making loading / unloading
efficient whilst increasing load capacity and ensuring cargo and crew will be safe during
ocean transit. This paper will attempt to provide a basic knowledge of the general types of
vessel cargo that are roaming on oceans nowadays and give clear history as to how each
design has evolved.
To begin, the main cargo types should be defined. For the purposes of this paper, cargoes
shall be divided into dry, liquid and specialised, with each of these divided further into sub
categories. Dry cargoes include bulk, general and breakbulk, containers, reefer and Ro-Ro.
Liquid cargoes are predominantly oil based but may also include chemicals and liquefied
gasses. Specialised cargoes include passengers, livestock and heavy-lift/project.

1.0 Vessel Types

1.1 Dry Cargo Ships:

Throughout the ages, dry cargo ships were the backbone of the world's merchant vessel.
Known as general cargo vessels, they would be "geared", that is equipped with their own
cargo loading equipment, usually in the form of derricks. The cargo would be stowed in
different holds and the speed and effectiveness of the loading/unloading process would
depend on the skill of the ship's crew and the port workers or "Stevedores". Such ships would
sometimes operate a regular service between two or more ports as "liners", but could also
operate in the "tramp trade" where vessels would go wherever they were required.

1.1.1 Bulk Carriers:

For dry cargoes with a high weight to cost ratio such as coal, grain and ore, economies
of scale have produced the modern bulk carrier. These usually large vessels are divided
up into several separate holds covered by hatches. In port, cargo is loaded by conveyor
and spouts or by crane and grab. Some bulk carriers are geared (usually a crane is
located between each hatch) to allow the loading and unloading of cargo at berths
without the need for shore equipment.

For unloading, cranes with grabs are the norm although specialised equipment may be
used for certain cargoes. When vessels unload using cranes and grabs, personnel and
vehicles will often be placed inside the holds to assist the process. Cargo will usually be
unloaded into hoppers and will then be transferred by conveyor to silos or open storage,