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2 Ship dimensions, form, size, or


Chapter Outline
Oil tankers 13
Bulk carriers 13
Container ships 15
IMO oil tanker categories 15
Panama canal limits 15
Suez canal limits 16
Some useful websites 16

The hull form of a ship may be defined by a number of dimensions and terms that are
often referred to during and after building the vessel. An explanation of the principal
terms is given below:
After Perpendicular (AP): A perpendicular drawn to the waterline at the point where the
after side of the rudder post meets the summer load line. Where no rudder post is fitted it is
taken as the center line of the rudder stock.
Forward Perpendicular (FP): A perpendicular drawn to the waterline at the point where the
fore-side of the stem meets the summer load line.
Length Between Perpendiculars (LBP): The length between the forward and aft perpen-
diculars measured along the summer load line.
Amidships: A point midway between the after and forward perpendiculars.
Length Overall (LOA): Length of vessel taken over all extremities.
Lloyd’s Length: Used for obtaining scantlings if the vessel is classed with Lloyd’s Register.
It is the same as length between perpendiculars except that it must not be less than 96% and
need not be more than 97% of the extreme length on the summer load line. If the ship has an
unusual stem or stern arrangement the length is given special consideration.
Register Length: The length of ship measured from the fore-side of the head of the stem to
the aft side of the head of the stern post or, in the case of a ship not having a stern post, to the
fore-side of the rudder stock. If the ship does not have a stern post or a rudder stock, the after
terminal is taken to the aftermost part of the transom or stern of the ship. This length is the
official length in the register of ships maintained by the flag state and appears on official
documents relating to ownership and other matters concerning the business of the ship.
Another important length measurement is what might be referred to as the IMO Length. This
length is found in various international conventions such as the Load Line, Tonnage,
SOLAS and MARPOL conventions, and determines the application of requirements of
those conventions to a ship. It is defined as 96% of the total length on a waterline at 85% of

Ship Construction. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-08-097239-8.00002-7

Copyright Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
12 Ship Construction

the least molded depth measured from the top of keel, or the length from the fore-side of
stem to the axis of rudder stock on that waterline, if that is greater. In ships designed with
a rake of keel the waterline on which this length is measured is taken parallel to the design
Molded dimensions are often referred to; these are taken to the inside of plating on
a metal ship.
Base Line: A horizontal line drawn at the top of the keel plate. All vertical molded
dimensions are measured relative to this line.
Molded Beam: Measured at the midship section, this is the maximum molded breadth of the
Molded Draft: Measured from the base line to the summer load line at the midship section.
Molded Depth: Measured from the base line to the heel of the upper deck beam at the ship’s
side amidships.
Extreme Beam: The maximum beam taken over all extremities.
Extreme Draft: Taken from the lowest point of keel to the summer load line. Draft marks
represent extreme drafts.
Extreme Depth: Depth of vessel at ship’s side from upper deck to lowest point of keel.
Half Breadth: Since a ship’s hull is symmetrical about the longitudinal centre line, often
only the half beam or half breadth at any section is given.
Freeboard: The vertical distance measured at the ship’s side between the summer load line
(or service draft) and the freeboard deck. The freeboard deck is normally the uppermost
complete deck exposed to weather and sea that has permanent means of closing all open-
ings, and below which all openings in the ship’s side have watertight closings.
Sheer: A rise in the height of the deck (curvature or in a straight line) in the longitudinal
direction. Measured as the height of deck at side at any point above the height of deck at side
Camber (or Round of Beam): Curvature of decks in the transverse direction. Measured as the
height of deck at center above the height of deck at side. Straight line camber is used on
many large ships to simplify construction.
Rise of Floor (or Deadrise): The rise of the bottom shell plating line above the base line.
This rise is measured at the line of molded beam. Large cargo ships often have no rise of
Half Siding of Keel: The horizontal flat portion of the bottom shell measured to port or
starboard of the ship’s longitudinal center line. This is a useful dimension to know when dry-
Tumblehome: The inward curvature of the side shell above the summer load line. This is
unusual on modern ships.
Flare: The outward curvature of the side shell above the waterline. It promotes dryness and
is therefore associated with the fore end of ship.
Stem Rake: Inclination of the stem line from the vertical.
Keel Rake: Inclination of the keel line from the horizontal. Trawlers and tugs often have
keels raked aft to give greater depth aft where the propeller diameter is proportionately
larger in this type of vessel. Small craft occasionally have forward rake of keel to bring
propellers above the line of keel.
Tween Deck Height: Vertical distance between adjacent decks measured from the tops of
deck beams at ship’s side.
Parallel Middle Body: The length over which the midship section remains constant in area
and shape.
Ship dimensions, form, size, or category 13

Entrance: The immersed body of the vessel forward of the parallel middle body.
Run: The immersed body of the vessel aft of the parallel middle body.
Tonnage: This is often referred to when the size of the vessel is discussed, and the gross
tonnage is quoted from Lloyd’s Register. Tonnage is a measure of the enclosed internal
volume of the vessel (originally computed as 100 cubic feet per ton). This is dealt with in
detail in Chapter 30.
Deadweight: This is defined in Chapter 1. It should be noted that for tankers deadweight is
often quoted in ‘long tons’ rather than ‘metric tons (tonnes)’; however, MARPOL regula-
tions for oil tankers are in metric tons.
The principal dimensions of the ship are illustrated in Figure 2.1.
TEU and FEU: Indicate the cargo-carrying capacity of container ships. TEU (twenty-foot
equivalent unit) indicates the number of standard shipping containers that may be carried on
some shipping routes; container ships may carry standard containers that are 40 feet in
length. FEU is forty-foot equivalent unit.
An indication of the size by capacity of oil tankers, bulk carriers, and container ships
is often given by the following types:

Oil tankers
ULCC (Ultra-Large Crude Carrier) is a tanker usually between 300,000 and 550,000 tonnes
VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) is a tanker usually between 200,000 tonnes and 300,000
tonnes deadweight.
Suezmax indicates the largest oil tanker that can transit the current Suez Canal fully laden,
being about 150,000 tonnes deadweight.
Aframax the standard designation of smaller crude oil tankers, being the largest tanker size
in the AFRA Freight Rate Assessment Scale Large One Category. AFRA stands for
‘American Freight Rate Association’. Variously reported as being 80,000 to 115,000 tones
Panamax is the maximum size of oil tanker, with beam restriction of 32.2 meters and length
restriction of 275 meters, that can transit the Panama Canal prior to completion of the
planned new locks. Typical size is about 55,000–70,000 tonnes deadweight.
Handysize/Handymax are typical product tankers of about 35,000–45,000 tonnes

Bulk carriers
Capesize ships that are too large to transit the current Panama Canal and therefore voyage
around Cape Horn. All bulk carriers above 80,000 tonnes deadweight fall into this category.
Most are up to 170,000 tonnes deadweight but a small number are larger for specific trade
routes, the biggest being 365,000 tonnes deadweight.
Panamax—As for oil tankers.
Handymax ships are between around 35,000 and 60,000 tonnes deadweight.
Ships between 10,000 and 35,000 tonnes deadweight have formed the majority of the fleet
for many years and are designated ‘Handysize’. In recent years the size of these ships has
been increasing and the term ‘Handymax’ has been applied to designate the larger bulk
Sheer forward
Sheer aft

Summer load line


Length between perpendiculars (LBP)

Length on waterline (LWL)
Length overall (LOA)
Aft Ford
perpendicular perpendicular
Tumblehome Camber


Molded beam

Rise of floor Base line

Half siding of keel

Ship Construction
Figure 2.1 Principal ship dimensions.
Ship dimensions, form, size, or category 15

Container ships
Ultra-large container ships. Ships with a capacity of over 14,000 TEU. Few have been built
to date. These ships are too large for any canals.
Post-Panamax ships are too large to transit the current Panama Canal and undertake trans-
ocean voyages. Their size is typically 5500–8000 TEU though larger ships with over 10,000
TEU capacity have been built.
New Panamax ships (including most Post-Panamax ships) would be able to transit the
expanded Panama Canal. They may carry up to around 12,000 TEU.
Panamax ships that can transit the current Panama Canal carry between 3000 and 5000
Feeder ships are smaller vessels that do not undertake oceanic voyages but are generally
engaged in shipping containers. The smallest of these may only carry several hundred TEU.
There is no specific subclass below Panamax size.

IMO oil tanker categories

Category 1 (commonly known as Pre-MARPOL tankers) includes oil tankers of 20,000
tonnes deadweight and above carrying crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil, or lubricating oil
as cargo, and of 30,000 tonnes deadweight and above carrying other oils, which do not
comply with the requirements for protectively located segregated ballast tanks. These ships
have been phased out under IMO regulations.
Category 2 (commonly known as MARPOL tankers) includes oil tankers of 20,000 tonnes
deadweight and above carrying crude oil, fuel oil, or lubricating oil as cargo, and of
30,000 tonnes deadweight and above carrying other oils, which do comply with the
protectively located segregated ballast tank requirements. These ships are due to be
phased out.
Category 3 includes oil tankers of 5000 tonnes deadweight and above but less than the
tonnes deadweight specified for Categories 1 and 2. Also due to be phased out.
Note: For tankers carrying HGO (heavy gas oil) the lower limits for Categories 2 and
3 fall to 600 tonnes deadweight.

Panama canal limits

These are set by lock sizes. Current locks are ‘Panamax’. New locks will be larger for
‘New Panamax’ ships (see Table 2.1).

Table 2.1 Panama Canal limits

Panamax ships New Panamax ships

Length (m) 294.13 366

Breadth (m) 32.81 49
Draft (m) 12.04 15.2
16 Ship Construction

Suez canal limits

There are no locks and ship size is limited by the canal dimensions. There is
a maximum breadth limit of 75 meters. With no locks the ship length is also unre-
stricted. The maximum draft is 20 meters.
The Saint Lawrence Seaway links the North American Great Lakes to the
Atlantic. The limits for ships based on the locks are length 226 m, breadth 24 m, and
draft 7.92 m.

Some useful websites For details of Panama Canal.