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Shipping terms,Shipping terms and Glossary,Marine terms



Always afloat

Abandoned Well

An oil well where production has ceased.

A/B or ABLE BODIED SEAMAN A member of the deck crew who is able to perform all the duties of an experienced seaman.


Aft of any particular point on the vessel.


At right angles to the line of the keel.


American Bureau of Shipping

Act of God

An act beyond human control, such as lightning, flood or earthquake.

Aframax Tanker

A tanker vessel of 70,000 to 119,000 DWT capacity.

Agency Fee

A fee charged to the ship by the ship's agent, representing payment for services while the ship was in port. Sometimes referred to as the attendance fee.


American Institute of Merchant Shipping.


Automated Identification System                  

Ambient Temperature          

The temperature of a surrounding body. The ambient temperature of a container is the atmospheric temperature to which it is exposed.


Amidships means in the middle portion of a vessel.


Automatic Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System - American warning system for international shipping

Anchor Handling Tug

Tug that moves anchors and tow drilling vessels, lighters and similar.

Apparent wind

The wind felt aboard the vessel when underway.

API Gravity

Petroleum industry expression for density of petroleum liquid expressed in API units. - API gravity is obtained by means of
simultaneous hydrometer/temperature readings, equated to, and generally expressed at 60ºF. The relative density to API gravity relation is:
API gravity at 60ºF = 141.5 divided by relative density 60ºF minus 131.5.


After Peak Tank


Method of settling disputes usually applied to a charter party.


Automatic Radar Plotting Aid

Articles of Agreement

The document containing all particulars relating to the terms of agreement between the Master of the vessel and the crew. Also known as shipping articles.

A.S. (A.s.)      



Association of Ships' Agents & Brokers.


Association of South East Asian Nations


Association of Shipping Lines


Behind or a backward direction in the line of a vessel's fore and aft line. When a vessel moves backwards it is said to move astern; opposite to ahead.


From side to side

Auto Pilot

An equipment that controls automatically a vessel's steering gear to enable her to follow a pre-determined track through the water


A vessel, wreck, or shoal so low that water constantly washes over.


Indicates that the anchor has broken out of the ground.



Bunker adjustment factor. A freight adjustment factor reflecting the current cost of bunkers.

Bareboat Charter

Vessel contract where charterers take over all responsibility for the operation of the vessel and expenses for a certain period of time, and appoints his own master and crew and pays all running expenses.


Flat-toped boat for carrying cargo on protected waterways, usually without engines or crew accommodations. On inland river systems barges can be lashed together and either pushed or pulled by tugs.

BCH Code              

International code (IMO) for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk


The width of a ship. Also called breadth.


Aid to navigation, lighted or unlighted, radio or racon, set on the shore or rocks.


Direction of an object express in Compass notation.

Beaufort wind scale

Sea state scale laid down by the World Meteorological Organization.


Any part of a rope between its ends; also a curve, a cove on a coastline or channel.


The box which houses the Mariner’s compass.

Bitter end           

The last part of a cable/rope left around the “bitts” when the rest is overboard.


Baltic and International Maritime Council, to which many shipowners and brokers belong.


Bills of Lading (Blading) - The basic document between a shipper and a carrier and a shipper and a consignee. It represents the contract of carriage and defines the terms and conditions of carriage. It is the final receipt from the carrier for the goods shown on it and for the condition of the goods. It describes the nature, quantity and weight of the cargo carried. It is also the document of title of the goods shown.


The highest unlicensed rating on the ship with charge of all deck hands and who in turn comes under the direct orders of the master or chief mate or mate.


A stay for the bowspirit to prevent it lifting; from bowspirit end to stem at waterline.


Steam generating units used aboard ship to provide steam for propulsion and for heating and other auxiliary purposes.


Heavy short post on a wharf or dock to secure ship’s mooring lines to.

Bolt rope

A strong rope/cable sewn round the edge of sails to give strength and prevent tearing.


A spar for many purposes, such as to stretch out the foot of a fore and aft sail.

Bower anchor

Main anchor carried forward in a vessel


Forward part of vessel.

Bow Thrusters

A propeller at the lower sea-covered part of the bow of the ship, which turns at right angles to the fore-and-aft line and thus provides transverse thrust as a manoeuvring aid.

Breakbulk Vessel

A general, multipurpose, cargo ship that carriers cargoes of non-uniform sizes, often on pallets, resulting in labour-intensive loading and unloading.

Breast line           

Ropes forward and aft at right angles to the ship to “breast” into the dock.


When running, to accidentally turn and get broadside on to wind and sea.

Bulk Carrier

Ship specifically designed to transport large amounts of cargoes such as sugar, grain, wine, ore, chemicals, liquefied natural gas; coal, ore etc


A name given to any vertical partition which separates different compartments or spaces from one another.


Fuel consumed by the engines of a ship; compartments or tanks in a ship for fuel storage.


A floating object marking the navigable limits of channels, sunken dangers, isolated rocks, telegraph cables etc.


Partitions fore and aft or Athwartships, forming separate compartments.


A vessel’s topsides that extend above the deck.

By the head           

Greater draft forward than aft

By the lee           

When running under sail, if the wind blows over the same side as the mainsail.

By the stern           

Greater draft aft than forward.



Compressed Air Breathing Apparatus

1 Cable

1/10 Nautical mile,anchor chain or stainless steel wire.

Cable Ship

A specially constructed ship for the laying and repairing of telegraph and telephone cables across channels, seas, lakes, and oceans.


The carriage of goods or passengers for remuneration taken on at one point and discharged at another point within the territory of the same country.


A ship, usually a dry or wet bulker, that is too large to transit the canals and as a consequence must travel via the 'capes', ie Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn - approximately 80,000 - 175,000 dwt


A vertical cylindrical machine for veering or hoisting the anchor chain.

Cargo Handling

Loading and discharging a cargo ship

Cargo Plan

A plan giving the quantities and description of the various grades carried in the ship's cargo tanks, after the loading is completed.

Cargo Preference

Reserving a portion of a nation's imports and exports to national-flag vessels.


Owners or operators of vessels providing transportation to shippers. The term is also sometimes used to refer to the vessels.


Edge to edge planking for a vessels hull.


The curve of an anchor cable as it lies between the anchor on the sea top and the vessel which lies to it.


A heavy piece of curved timber projecting from the bow of a ship for the purpose of holding anchors.


A raised bridge running fore and aft from the Midship House, also called "walkway". It affords safe passage over the pipe lines and other deck obstructions.


The loss of effective propeller thrust caused by the blades of a propeller cutting across the column of water sucked along by the propeller instead of working in it.


Conventional Buoy Mooring


Cargo Control Room

Certificate of Registry

A document specifying the nation registry of the vessel.


Code of Federal Regulations (U.S.)


A person who deals in the selling of provisions, dried stores, etc.


Hiring out of a ship by a shipowner.


The person who has chartered the ship for a specified period of time.

Charter Party

Contract for the hire of a ship or space in a ship ; Transport contract between shipowner and shipper of goods.

Chemical Tanker

Ship specially designed for the transport of chemicals.

Chief Engineer

The senior engineer officer responsible for the satisfactory working and upkeep of the main and auxiliary machinery and boiler plant on board ship.

Chief Mate

The officer in the deck department next in rank to the master; second in command of a ship.


Civil Liability Convention

Classification Society

Private organisations that undertake inspections and provide advise on the hull and machinery of a ship, also supervise ships during their construction and afterwards in respect to their seaworthiness. Ships are then referred to as being 'in class'. Although not compulsory, an unclassed ship will find it difficult to attract insurance.

Clean Ship

Tankers which have their cargo tanks free of traces of dark persistent oils, which remain after carrying crudes and heavy fuel oils.

Coastal Service

Domestic shipping routes along a single coast.


The narrow, empty space between two adjacent watertight or oil-tight compartments. This space is designed to isolate the two compartments from each other and/or provide additional buoyancy. It prevents any liquid contents of one compartment from entering the other in the event of a bulkhead failure. In oil tankers, cargo spaces are usually isolated from the rest of the ship by cofferdams fitted at both ends of the tank body.


Vessel used for transporting coal.

Collision Avoidance System

Electronic system commonly used to prevent collisions in inland navigable waterways.


The number of officers and crew employed upon a vessel for its safe navigation and operation.


To give orders to the helmsman in narrow waters.


The person to whom cargo is consigned as stated on the bills of lading.


The person named in the bill of lading as the one from whom the goods have been received for shipment.


A steel box of a given measurement used for the carriage of goods, often referred to as a TEU (20ft equivalent). Can be a standard container, usually either 6m or 12m in length (20ft or 40ft), a reefer container for refrigerated cargo, a flatrack standard or collapsible container, or an open top container type.

Container Ship

Ship specially designed to carry standard containers (TEUs). Generally called Cellular container ship. The larger part of the cargo-carrying capacity consists of containers carried on deck or in cells in the hold. Containers are lifted on and off with special cranes and are then called lift on-lift off-ships . Container ships are generally fast, operating regular sailing schedules (lines).


The direction a vessel steers to or the square sail set from a lower yard.


Charter Party


The personnel engaged on board ship, excluding the master and officers and the passengers on passenger ships.

Cruise ship

Passenger vessel carrying passengers on trips between various ports, normally with the same starting and ending port. Standards of accommodation and recreation normally high.


Two radial cranes on a ship which hold the lifeboats, which are used to lower and lift lifeboats.


Double Bottom Tanks

Dead reckoning

The position found by calculation from the course steered and the distance run over time.           

Deadweight (DWT)

A common measure of ship carrying capacity, equalling the number of tonnes of cargo, stores and bunkers that the ship can transport. It is the difference between the number of tonnes of water a vessel displaces 'light' and the number of tons it displaces when submerged to the 'deep load line'. A ship's cargo capacity is less than its total deadweight tonnage. The difference in weight between a vessel when it is fully loaded and when it is empty (in general transportation terms, the net) measured by the water it displaces. This is the most common, and useful, measurement for shipping as it measures cargo capacity and is usually used when referring to liquid and dry bulk ships.


Seaman who works on the deck of a ship and remains in the wheelhouse attending to the orders of the duty officers during navigation and manoeuvring.


Underside of a deck. The roof of a ships cabin.

Deck log or Captain's Log

A full nautical record of a ship's voyage, written up at the end of each watch by the deck officer on watch. The principal entries are: courses steered; distance run; compass variations, sea and weather conditions; ship's position, principal headlands passed; names of lookouts, and any unusual position, principal headlands passed; names of lookouts, and any unusual happenings such as fire, collision, and the like.

Deck Officer

Officers who assist the master in navigating the vessel when at sea, and supervise the handling of cargo when in port.

Deck house

Small superstructure on the top deck of a vessel, which contains the helm and other navigational instruments.

Deep Sea Trades

The traffic routes of both cargo and passenger vessels which are regularly engaged on the high seas or on long voyages.


A fee levied by the shipping company upon the port or supplier for not loading or unloading the vessel by a specified date agreed upon by contract.


A type of crane found on merchant ships.

Disabled Ship

When a ship is unable to sail efficiently or in a seaworthy state as a result of engine trouble, lack of officers or crew, damage to the hull or ship's gear.


Det Norske Veritas (NV) - Norwegian classification society.

Double Bottom

General term for all watertight spaces contained between the outside top plating, the tank top and the margin plate. The double tops are sub-divided into a number of separate tanks which may contain boiler feed water, drinking water, fuel oil, ballast, etc. Now becoming common on all tankers.


Rope or tackle used to haul down sail or yard.

Down helm

Order to helmsman to put tiller away from wind; up helm is towards wind.


The depth of a ship in the water. The vertical distance between the waterline and the keel, is expressed in metres except in the USA where it is in feet.

Drill Ship

Ship equipped with drilling rig and its own propulsion machinery. Kept in position by Dynamic Positioning Equipment. Operating in waters with a max. depth of 2,000 metres.

Dry Cargo Ship

Vessel that carries all merchandise, excluding liquid in bulk.

Dry Dock

An enclosed basin into which a ship is taken for underwater cleaning and repairing. It is fitted with watertight entrance gates which when closed permit the dock to be pumped dry. Sometimes has two or more compartments separated by watertight doors. Dry docks are also referred to as Graving Docks.


A term applied to loose wood or other material used in a ship's hold for the protection of cargo.


Deadweight tonnes.



The period when the tide falls or flows from the land.


Circular motion of the water unconnected with general water movement.


The flag, usually carried at the stern, that denotes a vessel’s nationality.


Estimated time of arrival


Estimated time of departure

Even Keel

When the draft of a ship fore and aft are the same.

Eye of the wind

That point from which the wind is blowing towards the observer



A fitting for leading a rope over an obstruction to avoid friction.


Shipping channel, normally the center of an approach channel.


Nautical measurement of depth of six feet or 1.83m.

Feeder Ship

A short-sea vessel used to fetch and carry goods and containers to and from deep sea vessels.


Soft rubber or other material to prevent chafe between vessels, or vessel and pier.


To make, arrive at a desired point or The distance the wind has from weather shore to ship


A member of the engine, room staff whose duties consist in standing watch in the boiler room and insuring the oil burning equipment is working properly.


A position obtained by taking accurate bearings or by astronomical observations.


Flag of Convenience


The outward spread of a vessel’s topsides; also a distress signal.


Navigational light with duration of light less than dark, operating at regular intervals.


The raised part of the forward end of a ship's hull, taking its name from the days of sailing ships where the forecastle was effectively a 'castle' on the ship's prow used for defending the ship. On some ships this area may be used for crew accommodation or quarters but on most new ships the space is used for the storage of paints, tackle, deck and engine stores, tarpaulins, etc.


Opposite to clear.


Floating Production, Storage & Offloading vessel.


The distance from the waterline to the deck outboard edge.

Frieght Rate

The charge made for the transportation of freight.



General Average


The kitchen of a ship .


A team that works in a harbour environment, usually in stevedoring.


A narrow portable platform used as a passage, by persons entering or leaving a vessel moored alongside a pier or quay.

Gas Tanker

Ship for the transportation of condensed (liquid) gases. The most important cargoes are: -LNG - Liquefied Natural Gas (mostly methane). -LPG - Liquefied Petroleum Gas (propane, butane). -Ammonia. -Ethylene. On board, gases are kept liquid with highly effective insulation (thermos bottle-principle), by high pressure or by low temperature. LNG-ships must be able to carry cargoes with temperatures as low as -163°C.


General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade.


General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade, an international agreement embodying a code of practice for fair trading in international commerce. Is headquartered in Geneva.


Gross Domestic Product: The total value of goods and services produced by a nation over a given period, usually 1 year.

General Cargo

A non-bulk oil cargo composed of miscellaneous goods.


Two concentric rings to hold the compass or stove horizontal at all times.


Global Maritime Distress and Safety System


Gross National Product: GDP plus the net income accruing from foreign sources.


A metal fitting for securing a boom to a mast. Allows for swing and topping.


Global Positioning System

Gross Tonnage and Net Tonnage

Gross tonnage is the basis on which manning rules and safety regulations are applied, and registration fees are reckoned. Port fees are also often reckoned on the basis of GT and NT. GT and NT are defined according to formulas which take account, among other things, of the volume of the vessel's enclosed spaces (GT) and the volume of its holds (NT).


A ship touching top


The heavy top rail of a boat.


A rope of wire used to control a spar or derrick.


Hague Rules

Code of minimum conditions for the carriage of cargo under a bill of lading


Ropes or tackle used to hoist sails or flags.


Dry bulk vessel of approximately 35,000 - 50,000 dwt.


Dry bulk vessel  15,000 - 50,000 dwt

Harbour Master(Port Captain)

A person usually having the experience of a certificated master mariner and having a good knowledge of the characteristics of the port and its whole area. He administers the entire shipping movements that take place in and within reach of his port.


An opening, generally rectangular, in a ship's deck providing access into the compartment below.

Hawse pipes

Pipes leading down through the bows through which anchor cables are led.


A heavy rope used for mooring, kedging, lineing,  towing or as a temporary anchor line.

Hazardous Cargo

All substances of an inflammable, toxic or otherwise dangerous nature.

Heaving line

Light line, knotted on end to throw ashore when berthing, as a messenger for a larger  mooring line.


A tiller or a wheel generally installed on the bridge or wheelhouse of a ship to turn the rudder during manoeuvring and navigation. It is in fact the steering wheel of the ship.


An able-bodied seamen entrusted with the steering of a vessel.

Hoisting Rope

Special flexible wire or nylon rope for lifting purposes.


A general name for the large compartments below the main deck designated for stowage of general cargo.


Shell or body of a ship - applies to the side and top of ship.



International Association of Ports & Harbours


International Chamber of Shipping (London)


International Harbour Masters Association


International Labour Organization; Based in Geneva.


International Maritime Bureau - bureau established by the ICC to combat fraud in the shipping industry.


International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code.


International Monetary Fund.


International Maritime Organization

Inert Gas System

A system of preventing any explosion in the cargo tanks of a tanker by replacing the cargo, as it is pumped out, by an inert gas, often the exhaust of the ship's engine. Gas-freeing must be carried out subsequently if workers have to enter the empty tanks.

Inflammable Liquids

Liquids liable to spontaneous combustion, which gives off  inflammable vapours at or below 80 degrees F. For example, ether, ethyl, benzene, gasoline, paints, enamels, carbon disulfide, etc

Inland Waters

Term referring to lakes, streams, rivers, canals, waterways, inlets, bays and the like.


International Maritime Satellite System.


Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers.


Towards the shore.


International Oil Pollution Prevention certificate


An association of independent tanker owners whose aims are to represent the views of its members internationally.


Navigation light where duration of light and dark are equal.


International Transport Workers Federation (Trade Unions)


Jack Stay

A bar or rope on which anything travels , to which safety harnesses may be clipped.

Jack staff

Small staff in the bows from which the jack is flown.


Movable installation consisting of a large deck with legs which may be jacked up. During operation, the legs are resting on the seabed, and the vessel "jacked up", leaving the deck in secure position high above the surface of the sea. When moved, the legs are retracted and the installation floates. Usually not equipped with own propulsion machinery. (Max. water depths 110 to 120 metres.) Normally used as a drilling rig.


The act of throwing goods or pumping cargo overboard to lighten a ship to improve stability in an emergency.


The triangular sail set as the forward headsail.



The fore and aft backbone of a vessel.


One nautical mile per hour.


Laid Up

Ships not in active service; a ship which is out of commission for fitting out, awaiting better markets, needing work for classification, etc.


Laydays/Canceling - a spread of dates  between which dates a vessel is to present for loading. Too early and she will probably have to wait. Too late and she risks being canceled by the charterers.


Length Between Perpendiculars - the length of the vessel measured between the forward part of the stern to the after part of the rudder post.


Letter of credit


The lead weight at the end of the lead line used to find depth of water.

Lee side

The side away from the wind direction.

Lee tide

Tidal stream running with the wind.


A specially constructed  boat, which can withstand heavy, rough seas in case of emergency

 Life line

Line stretched fore and aft for crew to hold on to.


A rope or wire to support a spar, as a topping lift.

Light Displacement Tonnage

The weight of a ship's hull, machinery, equipment and spares. This is often the basis on which ships are paid for when purchased for scrapping. The difference between the loaded displacement and light displacement is the ship's deadweight.


Conveying cargo with another vessel known as a lighter from ship to shore, or vice versa.


A Vessel serving a regular defined route or trade on a regular basis.


When a vessel heels through having greater weight on one side.

Lloyd's Register of Shipping

British classification society.

LNG carrier

Liquefied natural gas carrier, perhaps the most sophisticated of all commercial ships. The cargo tanks are made of a special aluminium alloy and are heavily insulated to carry natural gas in its liquid state at a temperature of -2,850F. The LNG ship costs about twice as much as an oil tanker of the same size.


Length Over All: The extreme length of the vessel measured from the foremost part to the aftermost part of the hull.

Load Line

The line on a vessel indicating the maximum depth to which that vessel can sink when loaded with cargo.


An instrument for recording the distance run.

Log book

The record of events on board a ship, especially navigational.


Letter of Indemnity


The state of instability caused when a ship is top heavy or has too much water such as from flooding below decks


A member of the crew stationed on the forecastle, bridge, or in the case of sailing vessels, the crow's nest at the top of one of the main masts. His duty it is to watch for any dangerous objects or for any other vessels approaching .


Line of position, evolved from celestial observations.


Liquefied Petroleum Gas, or a carrier of LPG.

Lubber line

Line on the inside of a compass bowl indicating the ships heading.


Main deck

The main continuous deck of a ship running from fore to aft; the principle deck; the deck from which the freeboard is determined.


A document containing a full list of the ship's cargo, extracted from the bills of lading.

Marline spike

Pointed steel tool for opening strand of rope when splicing.


The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships  modified by the several Protocols. Part of the IMO.

Masthead Light

A white light positioned over the fore and aft centreline of the vessel.


Mean Draft - the average of the drafts measured at the bow and the stern. ; Molded Depth - the depth measured between the top of the keel, or lower surface of the frame at the center line, and the top of the upper deck beam at the gunwale.


Line run through a single block, used to carry an object, such as another line, aloft.


Order to the helmsman to put the rudder fore and aft.


Maritime Law Association.


Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit.


Vessels are said to moor to a dock when well made fast with several mooring lines.


Metric tonnes (2,250 lbs).

Multi Purpose Ship

Any ship capable of carrying different types of cargo which require different methods of handling. There are several types of ships falling into this category, for example, ships which can carry roll on/roll off cargo together with containers. Ships that are designed to carry both dry, loose cargo and cargo in containers.


National Flag

The flag carried by a ship to show her nationality.

Nautical Mile

Distance of one minute of longitude at the equator, approximately 6,076.115. The metric equivalent is 1852.

Neap Tides

Minimum range of tide, when the moon is in quadrature.

Net Capacity

The number of tons of cargo which a vessel can carry when loaded in salt water to her summer freeboard marks. Also called cargo carrying capacity, cargo deadweight, useful deadweight.

Net Tonnage

Equals gross tonnage minus deductions for space occupied by crew accommodations, machinery, navigation equipment and bunkers. It represents space available for cargo (and passengers). Canal tolls are based on net (registered) tonnage.


Notice Of Protest - a letter issued by any participant in a voyage citing any condition with which issue is taken. This serves as a written record that the particular action or finding was questioned at the time of occurrence. For example a declaration made by the Master before a notary public or consular official when through stress of weather, there has been or the master fears that there might have been, damage to the vessel or cargo, or occurrences that exceeded or breached the warranties in the Charter Party. Copies are frequently demanded by insurance underwriters in the event of a claim.


Notice Of Readiness - notice served by the Master to inform the terminal/charterer that the vessel is ready in all respects to load or discharge cargo.


National Sea Rescue Institute.


OBO Ship

A multipurpose ship that can carry ore, heavy dry bulk goods and oil. Although more expensive to build, they ultimately are more economical because they can make return journeys with cargo instead of empty.


Navigational light with duration of light more than dark and total eclipse at regular intervals.


Any of the licensed members of the ship's complement.

Off Load

Discharge of cargo from a ship.

Off Hire or Downtime

When a ship is temporarily out of operation, in accordance with the terms of the relevant charterparty, with a loss of agreed hire as a result.

Offshore Service Vessel

Special vessels employed for the exploration, development or continuous production of subsea oil and gas.


An unlicensed member of the engine room staff who oils and greases bearings and moving parts of the main engine and auxiliaries. Most of this work is nowadays done automatically and the oiler merely insures it operates correctly.

Oil Record Book

A book or log kept on oil tanker wherein every discharge or escape of oil is recorded.

Oil Tanker

A ship designed for the carriage of oil in bulk, her cargo space consisting of several or many tanks. Tankers load their cargo by gravity from the shore or by shore pumps and discharge using their own pumps.


The holder of a freight contract with a cargo shipper.

Ore carrier

A large ship designed to be used for the carriage of ore. Because of the high density of ore, ore carriers have a relatively high centre of gravity to prevent them from rolling heavily at sea with possible stress to the hull.

Ore - Oil Carrier

A ship designed to carry either ore or oil in bulk.

Ordinary Seamen

A deck crewmember that is subordinate to the Able Bodied Seamen.



A flat tray, generally made of wood but occasionally of steel, on which goods particularly those in boxes, cartons or bags, can be stacked. Its purpose is to facilitate the movement of such goods, mainly by the use of forklift trucks.


A vessel designed to be just small enough to transit the Panama Canal

Passenger Ship

A ship with accommodation which is authorized to carry more than twelve passengers.

Pay Out

To ease a chain or rope.


The sediment's ability to let hydrocarbons pass through.

Personal Floatation Device

Approved floats meant as life preservers and carried on board American ships.

P & I Club

Protection and Indemnity Association, the carriers mutual liability assurer.


A person who is qualified to assist the master of a ship to navigate when entering or leaving a port. In most ports pilotage is compulsory.


A vertical pin on which the rudder is shipped.


A ship’s movement in a seaway in a fore and aft direction.


A term to indicate that a heavy sea has come inboard over the stern.


Watertight window in the ships side or superstructure for ventilation and light.

Port Side

Left hand side of a ship facing the front or forward end. The port side of a ship during darkness is indicated by a red light. Was previously known as the larboard side but this created confusion with starboard and was changed.

Product Tanker

A tanker designed to carry refined petroleum products in bulk.

Propane Carrier

A ship designed to carry propane in liquid form. The propane is carried in tanks within the holds; it remains in liquid form by means of pressure and refrigeration. Such ships are also suitable for the carriage of butane.


Platform Supply Vessel - Carries supplies to drilling units or installations during field development or production.


A rating that tends to the pumps of an oil tanker.


A ship's officer who is in charge of accounts.



Accommodation on a ship.


A restraint placed on an operation to protect the public against a health hazard. A ship may be quaran¬tined so that it cannot leave a protected point. During the quarantine period, the Q flag is hoisted.


An offer to sell goods at a stated price and under stated terms.


A structure attached to land to which a vessel is moored.



A purchase of ropes and blocks.

Tail Shaft

The extreme section at the aft end of a ship's propeller shaft.

Tank Cleaning

Removal of all traces of a cargo from the tanks of a tanker, normally by means of high-pressure water jets.


A tanker is a bulk carrier designed to transport liquid cargo, most often petroleum products.


Time charter


The business unit in ports where specific cargo, i.e. containers are handled.

Territorial Waters

That portion of the sea up to a limited instance which is immediately adjacent to the shores of any country and over which the sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction of that country extend. South Africa's territorial waters extend for 200 n.miles offshore.


Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (containers)


Lever for turning the rudder.

Time Charter

A form of charter party wherein owner lets or leases his vessel and crew to the charterer for a stipulated period of time. The charterer pays for the bunkers and port charges in addition to the charter hire.

Top Off

To fill a ship which is already partly loaded with cargo.


When one or more vessels are being towed; when a tug is towing (hauling) one or more floating objects.


The relationship between a ship's draughts forward and aft.


A small vessel designed to tow or push large ships or barges. Tugs have powerful diesel engines and are essential for manoeuvring large ships around the port. Pusher tugs are also used to push enormous trains of barges on the rivers and inland waterways of the U.S. Ocean-going salvage tugs provide assistance to ships in distress and engage in such work as towing drilling rigs and oil production platforms.


A screw fitting for adjusting the tension of shrouds and stays.



Ultra Large Crude Carriers larger than 300,000DWT.


The space not filled with liquid in a drum or tank.

Under Way    

 When a vessel  is not made fast.

Up and down    

Vertical, said of the anchor cable.



 To ease out a cable. A clockwise shift of the wind.


Very Large Crude Carriers: Tankers between 200,000 and 300,000DWT.

Voyage Charter

A contract whereby the shipowner places the vessel at the disposal of the charterer for one or more voyages, the shipowner being responsible for the operation of the vessel.


Vessel Traffic System



Moving a vessel by means of a hawser.

War Risk 

Insurance coverage for loss of goods resulting from any act of war.


The day at sea is divided into six four-hour periods. Three groups of watchstanders are on duty for four hours and then off for eight, then back to duty. Seamen often work overtime during their off time.


To lift the anchor off the top.


Heavy and strong construction installed on the surface string or conductor pipe as foundation for further pressure regulating equipment.


Direction toward the wind.



A spar suspended from a mast, to spread a sail.


When the ship’s head is swung by the action of the waves.

Young flood

The first movements in a flood tide.

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