Shipping Glossary of Terms

Interactive Shipping Glossary

A quick reference guide to ensure you never get tied up in transport terminology again.



A point beyond the mid-point of a ship’s length, toward the stern relative to an object or point of reference (‘abaft the fore hatch’).


Abaft the beam


Further aft than the beam: a relative bearing of greater than 90 degrees from the bow: ‘two points abaft the port beam’.




An action wherein a shipper/consignee seeks authority to abandon all or parts of their cargo.




A discount allowed for damage or overcharge in the payment of a bill.




On the beam, a relative bearing at right angles to the centerline of the ship’s keel.


Able Bodied Seamen


Some modern references claim that AB stands for able-bodied seaman as well as, or instead of, able seaman. Able seaman was originally entered using the abbreviation AB instead of the more obvious AS in ships’ muster books or articles. Such an entry was likely to avoid confusion with ordinary seaman (OS). Later the abbreviation began to be written as A.B., leading to the folk-etymological able-bodied seaman. The correct term, able seaman, remains in use in legal documents, in seaman’s papers, and aboard ship.


Able Seaman


An Able Seaman (also AB) is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. An AB may work as a watch-stander, a day worker, or a combination of these roles.




On or in a vessel (see also ‘close aboard’). Referring to cargo being put, or laden, onto a means of transport.


Above board


On or above the deck, in plain view, not hiding anything.


Above-water hull


The hull section of a vessel above waterline, the visible part of a ship. Also, topsides.


Absentee pennant


This is a special pennant flown to indicate the absence of a commanding officer, admiral, his chief of staff, or officer whose flag is flying (division, squadron, or flotilla commander).


Absolute bearing


The bearing of an object in relation to North. This can be either a true bearing, using the geographical or true North, or magnetic bearing, using magnetic North. For more information see ‘bearing’ and ‘relative bearing’.




A time draft (or bill of exchange) which the drawee (the person or organization, typically a bank, who must pay a draft or bill) has accepted and is unconditionally obligated to pay at maturity. Drawee’s act in receiving a draft and thus entering into the obligation to pay its value at maturity.


Acceptance (1)


An agreement to purchase goods under specified terms.


Acceptance of Goods


The process of receiving a consignment from a consignor, usually against the issue of a receipt. As from this moment the carrier bears responsibility for the consignment.


Accessorial Charges


Charges that are applied to the base tariff rate or base contract rate, e.g., bunkers, container, currency or destination/delivery.


Accommodation ladder


A portable flight of steps down a ship’s side.


Account Party/Accountee


The purchasing party, the importer, the buyer involved in any transaction.


Acknowledgement of Receipt


A notification relating to the receipt of e.g. goods, messages and documents.




When a Bill of Lading is accepted or signed by a shipper or shipper’s agent without protest, the shipper is said to acquiesce to the terms, giving a silent form of consent.


Act of God


Accidents of a nature beyond human control such as flood, lightning or hurricane, which are usually quoted as ‘force majeure’.


Act of Man


In water transportation, the deliberate sacrifice of cargo to make the vessel safe for the remaining cargo. Those sharing in the spared cargo proportionately cover the loss.


Act of Pardon / Act of Grace


A letter from a state or power authorising action by a privateer. For more information see ‘Letter of marque.’


Ad Hoc Charter


A one-off charter operated at the necessity of an airline or charterer.


Ad Valorem


This is a Latin term meaning ‘according to value.’ Import duty applied as a percentage of the cargo’s dutiable value. Ocean Freight can be assessed based on the value of the merchandise as well.




This is a senior naval officer of Flag rank. In ascending order of seniority: Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, Admiral and Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy). The term derives from the Arabic, Amir al-Bahr (ruler of the sea).




A high naval authority in charge of a state’s Navy or a major territorial component. In the Royal Navy (UK) the Board of Admiralty, executing the office of the Lord High Admiral, promulgates Naval law in the form of Queen’s (or King’s) Regulations and Admiralty Instructions.


Admiralty Court


A court which has jurisdiction over maritime questions pertaining to ocean transport, including contracts, charters, collisions, and cargo damages.


Admiralty Law


Admiralty law (also referred to as maritime law) is a distinct body of law which governs maritime questions and offences. It is a body of both domestic law governing maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private entities which operate vessels on the oceans. It deals with matters including marine commerce, marine navigation, shipping, sailors, and the transportation of passengers and goods by sea. Admiralty law also covers many commercial activities, although land-based or occurring wholly on land, that are maritime in character.




Afloat and unattached in any way to the shore or seabed, but not under way/power. It implies that a vessel is not under control and therefore goes where the wind and current take her (loose from moorings, or out of place). Also refers to any gear not fastened down or put away properly. It can also be used to mean ‘absent without leave’.




To move cargo up-line to a vessel leaving sooner than the one initially booked.


Advance Against Documents


Load made on the security of the documents covering the shipment.


Advance Note


A note for one month’s wages issued to sailors on their signing a ship’s articles.


Advanced Charge


A charge paid by a carrier to an agent or to another carrier, which the delivering carrier then collects from the consignee. Such charges are usually for agents’ forwarding fees and incidental expenses paid out of pocket for account of the shipment by an agent or other carrier.




Shipment of goods on shipper’s own account. A bill of adventure is a document signed by the master of the ship that carries goods at the owner’s risk.


Advice of Shipment


A notice sent to a local or foreign buyer advising that shipment has gone forward and contains details of packing, routing, etc. A copy of the invoice is usually enclosed and sometimes, if desired, a copy of the bill of lading.


Advice, Letter of


This document is sent by one party to another to whom a shipment has been sent, on consignment or otherwise. It involves a description of the goods sent, the carrier or other type of transportation being used, the date of departure, and any additional pertinent data. Note: (Bankers use the term letter of advice when notifying interested parties of such actions as the opening of credits, the drawing of drafts and the payment or non-payment of drafts.)


Advising Bank


A bank operating in the country of the seller which handles Letters of Credit on behalf of a Foreign Bank.


Advisory Capacity


A term indicating that a shipper’s agent or representative is not empowered to make definite decisions or adjustment without the approval of the group or individual represented.




A company that controls, or is controlled by another company, or is one of two or more commonly controlled companies.


Affreightment, Contract of


An agreement made by an ocean carrier to provide cargo space on a vessel at a specified time and for a specified price to accommodate an exporter or importer.




The condition of a vessel which is floating freely (not aground or sunk). This is a term more generally used to describe vessels in service e.g. ‘the company has 10 ships afloat’.




Towards the stern (of the vessel).


Afternoon watch


The period of duty/working hours (or ‘watch’) on board a vessel between 12:00hrs to 16:00hrs.


Against All Risks


An insurance policy which provides coverage against all types of loss or damage as opposed to specific ones.


Agency Agreement


The carrier line appoints the port agent and defines the specific duties and areas of responsibility of that agent.


Agency Fee


This is the fee payable by a ship-owner or ship operator to a port agent.


Agency for International Development


This is also known as USAID, an American Federal Agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid.


Agency tariff


A tariff published by an agent on behalf of several carriers.




A person authorised to transact business for and in the name of another person or company. Types of agents are: brokers, commission merchants, resident buyers, sales agents or manufacturer’s representatives.


Aggregate Shipment


Numerous shipments from different shippers to one consignee that are consolidated and treated as a single consignment.


Agreed Valuation


The value of a shipment agreed upon in order to secure a specific freight shipment.


Agreed Weight


The weight prescribed by agreement between carrier and shipper for goods shipped in certain packages or a certain number.




Said of a vessel resting on or touching the ground or bottom of a waterway.




Forward of the bow.




A cry to draw attention on board. This is usually a term used to hail a boat or a ship, as ‘Boat ahoy!’




When the boat is lying broadside to the sea. Also to ride out a storm with no sails and helm held to leeward. Also to ride out a storm with no sails and helm held to leeward.


Aid to Navigation


Any device external to a vessel or aircraft specifically intended to assist navigators in determining their position or safe course, or to warn them of dangers or obstructions to navigation.


Air Waybill


A bill of lading for Air Transport. This covers both domestic and international flights transporting goods to a specified destination. Technically, it is a non-negotiable instrument of air transport which serves as the receipt for the shipper, indicating that the carrier has accepted the goods listed therein and obligates itself to carry the consignment to the airport of destination according to specified conditions.


All Hands


The entire ship’s company, including officers and enlisted personnel.


All In


The total price to move cargo from its origin to its destination; inclusive of all charges, as opposed to detailed charges of Seafreight + + +.


All night in


Having no night watches.


All Water


Transport exclusively by water.




A collision between a moving vessel and a stationary object.




A share of the capacity of a means of transport assigned to a certain party, e.g. a carrier or an agent, for the purpose of the booking of cargo for a specific voyage.


All-Risk Clause


An insurance provision that all loss or damage to goods is insured except any that is self-caused. For more information see All-Risk Insurance.


All-Risk Insurance


A clause included in marine insurance policies to cover loss and damage from external causes, such as fire, collision, pilferage, etc. but not against innate flaws in the goods, such as decay, germination, nor against faulty packaging, improper packing/ loading or loss of market, nor against war, strikes, riots and civil commotions. For more information see Marine Cargo Insurance.




The point above the ship’s uppermost solid structure; overhead or high above.




By the side of a ship or pier. A phrase referring to the side of a ship. Goods delivered ‘alongside’ are to be placed on the dock or barge within reach of the transport ship’s tackle so that they can be loaded.


Alternative Rates


The privilege to use the rate producing the lowest charge.


Always Afloat


This is a widely used contract term requiring that a vessel should not rest on the ground. In some ports the ship is aground when approaching or at berth.


Always Within Institute Warranties Limits


Insurance term.


Ambient Temperature


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




A written notice of a change in the terms of a letter of credit. The amendment becomes an integral part of the original letter of credit.


American Bureau of Shipping


This is one of several classification societies; with a mission to promote the security of life, property and the natural environment, primarily through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities (i.e. vessels). The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), first chartered in the State of New York in 1862 to certify ship captains. It is a classification society, with a mission to promote the security of life, property and the natural environment, primarily through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities. At the end of 2006, ABS was the third largest class society with a classed fleet of over 10,000 commercial vessels and offshore facilities. ABS’ core service is the provision of classification services through the development of standards called ABS Rules. These rules form the basis for assessing the design and construction of new vessels and the integrity of existing vessels and marine structures.


American Bureau of Shipping (1)


This is one of several classification societies; with a mission to promote the security of life, property and the natural environment, primarily through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities (i.e. vessels).


American Terms


A (Marine Insurance) term used to differentiate between the conditions of American Policies from those of other nations, principally England.




In the middle portion of a ship, along the line of the keel.




An object designed to prevent or slow the drift of a ship, attached to the ship by a line or chain; typically a metal, hook-like or plough-like object designed to grip the bottom under the body of water. For more information see ‘sea anchor’.


Anchor ball


A round black shape hoisted in the forepart of a vessel to show that it is anchored.


Anchor buoy


A small buoy secured by a light line to the anchor, designed to indicate the position of the anchor on the sea bed.


Anchor Chain or Anchor Cable


The chain connecting the ship to the anchor.


Anchor Detail


A team of men who handle ground tackle when the ship is anchoring or getting underway.


Anchor Light


White light displayed by a ship at anchor. Two such lights are displayed by a ship over 150 feet (46 m) in length.


Anchor Rode


The anchor line, rope or cable connecting the anchor chain to the vessel. For more information see ‘Rode’.


Anchor Watch


A consignment of crew tasked with ensuring that the anchor is holding and the vessel is not drifting. It is very important during rough weather and at night. Most marine GPS units boast Anchor Watch alarm capabilities.




A suitable place for a ship to anchor; usually an area of a port or harbour.


Anchor’s Aweigh


The term used when an anchor is just clear of the sea bed.




Traditional lower-deck slang term for the Royal Navy.


Anglian Container Services
(A.C.S. )


This is the container services business operated by MSC (UK) Ltd, with primary business activities including container storage, cleaning, repairs, conversions, customisations and reefer pre-tripping.


Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee
(A.S.D.I.C. )


A type of sonar used by the Allies for detecting submarines during the Second World War.


Anti-submarine warfare


Anti-submarine warfare


Any Time, Day or Night, Sundays & Holidays Included


A chartering term referring to when a vessel will work.




Usually refers to a rating that applies to an article regardless of weight.


Apparent Good Order


When freight appears to be free of damage; so far as a general survey can determine.


Apparent Wind


The combination of the true wind and the headwind caused by the boat’s forward motion. For example, it causes a light side wind to appear to come from well ahead of the beam.




Determination of the dutiable value of imported merchandise by a Customs official who follows procedures outlined in their country’s tariff, such as the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930.


Arbitrary (ARB)


A stated amount of money over a fixed rate for transit to one destination to make a rate to another point further along, for example: $1400 for Boston-Antwerp + $140 ARB for Rotterdam).




The process of referring to an agreed person for judgment on issues of a dispute; without requiring the use of courts.


Arbitration Clause


A standard clause to be included in the contracts of exporters and importers, as suggested by the American Arbitration Association. It states that any controversy or claim will be settled by arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.


Arc of Visibility


The portion of the horizon over which a lighted aid to navigation is visible from seaward.




A ship’s weapons.




The procedure whereby, in common law jurisdictions, a ship (and sometimes cargo and/or freight) may be seized by an admiralty court at the institution of or during an action ‘in rem’ – against a thing rather than a person – (infra) to provide pre-judgment security for the plaintiff’s maritime claim.


Arrival Date


The date on which goods or a means of transport is due to arrive at the delivery site of the transport.


Arrival Notice


A notice from the ocean carrier to the ‘notify party,’ indicating the vessel’s estimated arrival date; identifying shipment details such as number of packages, weight, and container number; and indicating when free time expires. Often includes a freight invoice.


Articles of War


Regulations governing the military and naval forces of UK and USA; read to every ship’s company on commissioning and at specified intervals during the commission.




A vessel that is on the beach, shore or land.




A term commonly used in connection with a bill of lading. It involves the transfer of rights, title and interest in order to assign goods by endorsing the bill of lading.


Assignment of Proceeds


A stipulation within a letter of credit in which some or all of the proceeds are assigned from the original beneficiary to one or more additional beneficiaries.




Toward the stern; an object or vessel that is abaft another vessel or object. For more information see Port Side for diagram of all the ship’s directions.


Asylum Harbour


A harbour used to provide shelter from a storm.


Athwart, athwartships


At right angles to the fore and aft or centerline of a ship; A direction across the width of a vessel.


Atlantic Container Line


A container carrier operating large RORO (Roll-On Roll-off) ships between Europe and North America.


Atlantic Container Line (1)


A container carrier operating large RORO (Roll-On Roll-off) ships between Europe and North America.


Automated Broker Interface


This is the U.S. Customs’ computer system which brokers use to file importers’ entries electronically. An electronic system allowing customhouse brokers and importers to interface via computer with the US Customs Service for transmitting entry and entry summary data on imported merchandise.


Automated Broker Interface (1)


This is the U.S. Customs’ computer system which brokers use to file importers’ entries electronically.


Automated Commercial Environment system


The U.S. Customs’ master computer system to replace the Automated Commercial System.


Automated Commercial System


This is the U.S. Customs’ master computer system, which is being replaced by the Automated Commercial Environment system (ACE).


Automated Manifest System


This is the U.S. Customs’ computerized system used to automate the flow of customs-related information among customs brokers, importers, and carriers. A part of Custom’s Automated Commercial System (ACS), controls imported merchandise from the time a carrier’s cargo manifest is electronically transmitted to Customs until control is relinquished to another segment of the ACS.


Automated System for Customs Data


The Automated System for Customs Data is a computerised system designed by the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) to administer a country’s Customs. Currently there are three different generations of ASYCUDA in use: ASYCUDA 2.7, ASYCUDA++ and ASYCUDA World. All of them were built using different paradigms and solutions available at the time of conception, being ASYCUDA World the most recent one and less used so far (early 2009). UNCTAD’s premise was to build a computer system to assist customs authorities (or their local equivalent) all over the world to automate and control their core processes and obtain timely, accurate and valuable information to support government projections and planning.


Automatic Identification System


A short range coastal tracking system used on ships and by Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and VTS stations. Information such as unique identification, position, course, and speed can be displayed on a screen or an ECDIS. AIS is intended to assist the vessel’s watch standing officers and allow maritime authorities to track and monitor vessel movements, and integrates a standardized VHF transceiver system such as a LORAN-C or Global Positioning System receiver, with other electronic navigation sensors, such as a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicator. The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires AIS to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with gross tonnage (GT) of 300 or more tons, and all passenger ships regardless of size. It is estimated that more than 40,000 ships currently carry AIS class A equipment.


Autoridad del Canal de Panama
(A.C.P. (Spanish))


The Panama Canal Authority.


Avast – Stop!


A command to cease or desist from whatever is being done.




A common marine insurance term. An early meaning (c.1500) of the word average is ‘damage sustained at sea’. The root is found in Arabic as awar, in Italian as avaria and in French as avarie. Hence an average adjuster is a person who assesses an insurable loss. Marine damage is either particular average, which is borne only by the owner of the damaged property, or general average, where the owner can claim a proportional contribution from all the parties to the marine venture. The type of calculations used in adjusting general average gave rise to the use of ‘average’ to mean ‘arithmetic mean’.


Average Adjusters


In general average affairs average adjusters are entrusted with the task of apportioning the loss and expenditure over the parties interested in the maritime venture and to determine which expenses are to be regarded as average or general average.


Avoirdupois Pound


A measure of weight or mass equal to 0.4535924277 kilograms.




A vessel that is so low in the water that the water is constantly washing across the surface.




The position of an anchor just clear of the bottom.


Aye, aye


The reply to an order or command to indicate that it, firstly, is heard; and, secondly, is understood and will be carried out. (‘Aye, aye, sir’ to officers). Also ‘yarr’.


Azimuth Circle


An instrument used to take bearings of celestial objects.


Azimuth Compass


An instrument employed for ascertaining the position of the sun with respect to magnetic north. The azimuth of an object is its bearing from the observer measured as an angle clockwise from true north.

B/L Port of Discharge


The port where cargo is discharged from its means of transport.


Back and fill


To use the advantage of the tide being with you when the wind is not.


Back Haul


The return trip of a means of transport which has provided a transport service in one direction.




Long lines or cables, reaching from the rear of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.




A soft covering for cables (or any other obstructions) that prevents sail chafing from occurring.


Balance of Trade


Materials solely carried to improve the trim and the stability of the vessel. In vessels usually sea water is carried as ballast in tanks, specially conceived for that purpose. (See also Ballast).








Materials solely carried to improve the trim and the stability of the vessel. In vessels usually water is carried as ballast in tanks, specially conceived for that purpose.


Ballast bonus


‘Ballast Bonus’: special payment above the chartering price when the ship has to sail a long way on ballast to reach the loading port.

‘Bareboat’. A method of chartering of the ship, leaving the charterer with almost all the responsibilities of the owner.


Baltic and international maritime council


The world’s largest private shipping organisation based in Copenhagen, which has been in operation since 1905. BIMCO promotes proper shipping practices and opposes objectionable and unfair import charges, claims, etc. It claims a worldwide membership of 2720, including ship-owners, managers, brokers, agents and others involved in the shipping industry. BIMCO holds observer status with a number of United Nations (UN) organs.




A large area of elevated sea floor.


Bank Guarantee


A guarantee issued by a bank to a carrier to be used in lieu of lost or misplaced original negotiable bill of lading.




Traditional Royal Navy term for a day or shorter period of rest and relaxation.




An EDI message sent to convey the Bayplan on occupied and empty slots in a certain vessel at a particular time.




Large mass of sand or earth, formed by the surge of the sea. They are mostly found at the entrances of great rivers or havens, and often render navigation extremely dangerous, but confer tranquility once inside.


Bar pilot


A bar pilot guides ships over the dangerous sandbars at the mouth of rivers and bays.


Bareboat Charter


A charter in which the bare ship is chartered without crew; the charterer, for a stipulated sum taking over the vessel for a stated period of time, with a minimum of restrictions; the charterer appoints the master and the crew and pays all running expenses. For further information see Demise Charter.




A flat bottomed inland cargo vessel, with or without own propulsion, ideal for transporting goods on canals and rivers.




An act committed by the master or mariners of a vessel for some unlawful or fraudulent purpose, contrary to their duty to the owners, whereby the latter sustain injury. It may include negligence, if so gross as to evidence fraud.




A term of measure referring to 42 gallons of liquid at 60F.




A sailor stationed in the crow’s nest.




Trade in which merchandise is exchanged directly for other merchandise without use of money. Barter is an important means of trade with countries using currency that is not readily convertible.


Base Rate


A tariff term referring to ocean rate less accessorial charges or base tariff rate.




A vertical division of a vessel from stem to stern, used as a part of the indication of a stowage place for containers. The numbers run from stem to stern; odd numbers indicate a 20 foot position, even numbers indicate a 40 foot position.


Bay Plan


A stowage plan which shows the locations of all the containers on the vessel.




Deliberately running a vessel aground, to load and unload (as with landing craft), or sometimes to prevent a damaged vessel sinking.




A lighted or unlighted fixed aid to navigation attached directly to the Earth’s surface (lights and daybeacons both constitute beacons.)




The width of a vessel at the widest point, or a point alongside the ship at the mid-point of its length.


Beam ends


The sides of a ship. ‘On her beam ends’ may mean the vessel is literally on her side and possibly about to capsize; more often, the phrase means the vessel is listing 45 degrees or more.




A large squared off stone used for scraping clean the deck of a sailing man-of-war.


Bear down or bear away


Turn away from the wind, often with reference to a transit.




The horizontal direction of a line of sight between two objects on the surface of the earth.

For more information see ‘absolute bearing’ and ‘relative bearing’.




Sailing closer to the wind than about 60° (see also reaching, running and tacking).


Beaufort Scale


The scale describing wind force devised by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort in 1808, in which winds are graded by the effect of their force (originally, the amount of sail that a fully-rigged frigate could carry).

Beaufort number: 0

Description: Calm

Wind speed (km/h): <1

Wave Height (metres): 0

Sea Conditions: Flat

Land conditions: Calm. Smoke rises vertically.

Beaufort number: 1

Description: Light air

Wind speed (km/h): 1.1 – 5.5

Wave Height (metres): 0 – 0.2

Sea Conditions: Ripples without crests.

Land conditions: Wind motion visible in smoke.

Beaufort number: 2

Description: Light breeze

Wind speed (km/h): 5.6 – 11

Wave Height (metres): 0.2 – 0.5

Sea Conditions: Small wavelets. Crests of glassy appearance, not breaking.

Land conditions: Wind felt on exposed skin. Leaves rustle.

Beaufort number: 3

Description: Gentle breeze

Wind speed (km/h): 12 – 19

Wave Height (metres): 0.5 – 1

Sea Conditions: Large wavelets. Crests begin to break; scattered whitecaps.

Land conditions: Leaves and smaller twigs in constant motion.

Beaufort number: 4

Description: Moderate breeze

Wind speed (km/h): 20 – 28

Wave Height (metres): 1 – 2

Sea Conditions: Small waves with breaking crests. Fairly frequent white horses.

Land conditions: Dust and loose paper raised. Small branches begin to move.

Beaufort number: 5

Description: Fresh breeze

Wind speed (km/h): 29 – 38

Wave Height (metres): 2 – 3

Sea Conditions: Moderate waves of some length. Many white horses. Small amounts of spray.

Land conditions: Branches of a moderate size move. Small trees begin to sway.

Beaufort number: 6

Description: Strong breeze

Wind speed (km/h): 39 – 49

Wave Height (metres): 3 – 4

Sea Conditions: Long waves begin to form. White foam crests are very frequent. Some airborne spray is present.

Land conditions: Large branches in motion. Whistling heard in overhead wires. Umbrella use becomes difficult. Empty plastic garbage cans tip over.

Beaufort number: 7

Description: High wind, Moderate gale, Near gale

Wind speed (km/h): 50 – 61

Wave Height (metres): 4 – 5.5

Sea Conditions: Sea heaps up. Some foam from breaking waves is blown into streaks along wind direction. Moderate amounts of airborne spray.

Land conditions: Whole trees in motion. Effort needed to walk against the wind. Swaying of skyscrapers may be felt, especially by people on upper floors.

Beaufort number: 8

Description: Gale, Fresh gale

Wind speed (km/h): 62 – 74

Wave Height (metres): 5.5 – 7.5

Sea Conditions: Moderately high waves with breaking crests forming spindrift. Well-marked streaks of foam are blown along wind direction. Considerable airborne spray.

Land conditions: Some twigs broken from trees. Cars veer on road. Progress on foot is seriously impeded.

Beaufort number: 9

Description: Strong gale

Wind speed (km/h): 75 – 88

Wave Height (metres): 7 – 10

Sea Conditions: High waves whose crests sometimes roll over. Dense foam is blown along wind direction. Large amounts of airborne spray may begin to reduce visibility.

Land conditions: Some branches break off trees, and some small trees blow over. Construction/temporary signs and barricades blow over. Damage to circus tents and canopies.

Beaufort number: 10

Description: Storm, Whole gale

Wind speed (km/h): 89 – 102

Wave Height (metres): 9 – 12.5

Sea Conditions: Very high waves with overhanging crests. Large patches of foam from wave crests give the sea a white appearance. Considerable tumbling of waves with heavy impact. Large amounts of airborne spray reduce visibility.

Land conditions: Trees are broken off or uprooted, saplings bent and deformed. Poorly attached asphalt shingles and shingles in poor condition peel off roofs.

Beaufort number: 11

Description: Violent Storm

Wind speed (km/h): 103 – 117

Wave Height (metres): 11.5 – 16

Sea Conditions: Exceptionally high waves. Very large patches of foam, driven before the wind, cover much of the sea surface. Very large amounts of airborne spray severely reduce visibility.

Land conditions: Widespread damage to vegetation. Many roofing surfaces are damaged; asphalt tiles that have curled up and/or fractured due to age may break away completely.

Beaufort number: 12

Description: Hurricane

Wind speed (km/h): ? 118

Wave Height (metres): ? 14

Sea Conditions: Huge waves. Sea is completely white with foam and spray. Air is filled with driving spray, greatly reducing visibility.

Land conditions: Very widespread damage to vegetation. Some windows may break; mobile homes and poorly constructed sheds and barns are damaged. Debris may be hurled about.

Scale now reads up to Force 17 determining varying strengths of hurricane:

13 Bft > 72-80 kts

14 Bft > 81-89 kts

15 Bft > 90-99 kts

16 Bft > 100- 108 kts

17 Bft > 109- 118 kts


Before the mast


Literally, the area of a ship before the foremast (the forecastle). The term is most often used to describe men whose living quarters are located here, officers being quartered in the stern-most areas of the ship (near the quarterdeck). Officer-trainees lived between the two ends of the ship and become known as ‘midshipmen’. Crew members who started out as seamen, then became midshipmen, and later, officers, were said to have gone from ‘one end of the ship to the other’.




To make fast a line around a fitting, usually a cleat or belaying pin.

An order to halt a current activity or countermand an order prior to execution.


Belaying pins


Bars of iron or hard wood to which running rigging may be secured, or belayed.


Belly Cargo


Freight accommodation located below the main deck.




A knot used to join two ropes or lines. For more information see hitch.




It is the result of vertical forces acting on a ship because of local differences between weight and buoyancy. The total of these forces should be zero; otherwise a change of draft will occur. At sea the bending moment will change as a result of wave impact which then periodically changes the buoyancy distribution.

Note: The maximum allowed bending moment of a vessel is restricted by the class bureau to certain limits, which are different under port and sea conditions.


Beneficial cargo owner


Referring to the importer of record, who physically takes possession of cargo at destination and does not act as a third party in the movement of such goods.




The entity to whom money is payable

The entity to whom a Letter of Credit is issued

The seller and the drawer of a draft


Bermudan rig


A triangular mainsail, without an upper spar, which is hoisted up the mast by a single halyard attached to the head of the sail. This configuration, introduced to Europe about 1920, allows the use of a tall mast, enabling sails to be set higher where wind speed is greater.


Berne Gauge


Railways: the most restrictive loading gauge (standard measure) or the lowest common denominator of loading gauges on the railways of continental Europe.




The place beside a pier, quay, or wharf where a vessel can be loaded or discharged.


Berth (moorings)


A location in a port or harbour used specifically for mooring vessels while not at sea.


Berth (sleeping)


A bed or sleeping accommodation on a boat or ship.


Berth Liner Service


This is a regular scheduled steamship line with regular published schedules (port of call) to and from defined trade areas.


Berth or Liner Terms


This is an expression covering assessment of ocean freight rates generally implying that loading and discharging expenses will be for the ship owner’s account, and will usually apply from the end of the ship’s tackle in port of loading to the end of the ship’s tackle in port of discharge.


Berth Terms


Shipped under a rate that does not include the cost of loading or unloading.


Best Bower (anchor)


The larger of two anchors carried in the bow; so named as it was the last, best hope.

Between the Devil and the deep blue sea

For more information see Devil seam.







The bilge is the compartment at the bottom of the hull of a ship or boat where water collects so that it may be pumped out of the vessel at a later time.


Bilge keels


A pair of keels on either side of the hull, usually slanted outwards. In yachts, they allow the use of a drying mooring, the boat standing upright on the keels (and often a skeg) when the tide is out.


Bilged on her anchor


A ship that has run upon her own anchor, so the anchor cable runs under the hull.


Bill of Exchange


Used in connection with Letters of Credit, akin to a bank cheque. This is also known as a draft in the U.S.


Bill of Health


The Bill of Health is the certificate issued by local medical authorities indicating the general health conditions in the port of departure or in the ports of call. The Bill of Health must have been communicated before departure by the Consul of the country of destination.

When a vessel has ‘free pratique’ (i.e. a clean bill of health), this means that the vessel has a clean Bill of Health certifying that there is no question of contagious disease and that all quarantine regulations have been complied with, so that people may embark and disembark.


Bill of Lading


A document that establishes the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company that moves freight between specified ports for a specified charge. This is usually prepared by the shipper on forms issued by the carrier, serving as a document of title, a contract of carriage and a receipt for goods.

There are many different types of B/Ls:

Amended B/L: Requires updates that do not change financial status (slightly different from corrected B/L).

Cancelled B/L: Used to cancel a processed B/L usually per shipper’s request. (different from a voided B/L).

Clean B/L: No recorded irregularities in packing or general condition of all or any part of the shipment.

Combined B/L: Covers cargo moving over various modes of transport.

Consolidated B/L: Combined or consolidated from two or more B/Ls.

Corrected B/L: One that requires an update which results in money or other financially-related changes.

Domestic B/L: Non-negotiable primarily containing routing details; used by truckers and freight forwarders.

Express B/L: Non-negotiable where there are no printed copies of original B/L.

Freight B/L: A contract of carriage between a shipper and forwarder (usually an NVOCC – Non-vessel owning common carrier); a non-negotiable document.

Hitchment B/L: Covering parts of a shipment which are loaded at more than one location. Usually consists of two parts: hitchment and hitchment memo. The hitchment portion usually covers the majority of a divided shipment and carries the entire revenue.

House B/L: Issued by a freight forwarder or consolidation covering a single shipment, containing the names, addresses and specific description of the goods shipped.

Intermodal/Multimodal/Combined Transport B/L: Covering cargo moving by various modes of transportation.

Long Form B/L: One with the complete Terms & Conditions on the back of the document.

Memo B/L: Unfreighted with no charges listed.

Negotiable B/L (To Order B/L): B/L names are legal and by endorsement, the shipper can transfer the title of the goods to the bank representing the buyer or directly to the buyer of the goods.

Non-Negotiable/Straight Consignment B/L: File copy. Used when goods are consigned directly to a named consignee and not negotiable.

On-Board B/L: Validated at the time of loading to transport. Common types: on-board air, boxcar, container, rail, truck or vessel.

Optional Discharge B/L: Covering cargo with more than one discharge point option possibility.

Order B/L: Issued to the order of a party, usually the shipper, whose endorsement is required to effect its negotiation.

Order Notify B/L: Issued usually to the order of the shipper with the additional clause that the consignee is to be notified upon arrival of the merchandise. Such mention of the consignee does not give the consignee title to the merchandise.

Original B/L (OBL): Part of the B/L that has value, especially when negotiable; remaining parts are informational file copies.

Received-for-Shipment B/L: Validated at the time cargo is received by ocean carrier to commence movement but before being validated as ‘on-board’.

Reconciled B/L: Set which has completed a prescribed number of edits between the shipper’s instructions and the actual shipment received. This produces a very accurate B/L.

Short Term/Short Form B/L: One that does not have written terms & conditions on the back of the document.

Split B/L: One of two or more B/Ls which have been split from a single B/L.

Stale B/L: A late B/L. In banking, one that has passed the time deadline of the L/C and is void.

Through B/L: Blanket documentation when multiple carriers of various transport modes are involved.

Voided B/L: Those absorbed in the combined process. Different from Cancelled B/L.


Bill of Sale


A document that confirms the transfer of ownership of certain goods to another person in return for money paid or loaned.


Bill to Party


Customer designated as party paying for services.


Bimini top


Open-front canvas top for the cockpit of a boat, usually supported by a metal frame.




A punitive instrument.




The stand on which the ship’s compass is mounted.


Binnacle list


A ship’s sick list – the list of men unable to report for duty traditionally given to the officer or mate of the watch by the ship’s surgeon. The list was kept at the binnacle.




A post mounted on the ship’s bow, for fastening ropes or cables.


Bitter End


The anchor cable is tied to the bitts, when the cable is fully paid out, the bitter end has been reached. The last part of a rope or cable.


Blanket Bond


A bond covering a group of persons, articles or properties.


Blanket Rates


A rate applicable to or from a group of points. A special rate applicable to several different articles in a single shipment.


Block Stowage


Stowing cargo destined for a specific location close together to avoid unnecessary movement.


Blue Peter


A blue and white flag (the flag for the letter “P”) hoisted at the foretrucks of ships about to sail. Formerly a white ship on a blue ground



To gain access to a vessel.




A relatively small, usually open craft or vessel designed to float on, and provide transport over, water. An inland vessel of any size.




A pole with a hook on the end, used to reach into the water to catch buoys or other floating objects.


Boatswain or bosun


A non-commissioned officer responsible for the sails



A stay (wire/chain) that holds the bowsprit downwards, counteracting the effect of the forestay. This is usually made of wire or chain to eliminate stretch.




A common American term, meaning the movement of a tractor, without trailer over the highway.




A set of wheels built specifically as rear wheels under a container.




From ‘bol’ or ‘bole’, the round trunk of a tree. A substantial vertical pillar to which lines may be made fast. Generally on the quayside rather than the ship.




A device fitted on a chassis or rail car to hold and secure the container.


Bona Fide


Latin for in good faith; without dishonesty

Bond Port


Port of initial Customs entry of a vessel to any country (first port of call).


Bonded Goods


Dutiable goods upon which excise duty has not been paid – i.e. goods in transit or warehoused pending use. The bond is the agreement entered into by the owner of the dutiable goods with the Customs and Excise Authority in which he promises to pay the duty when the goods are released for final distribution or use or in the event of them being lost or stolen.


Bonded Jacky


A type of tobacco or sweet cake.


Bonded Warehouse


Warehouse approved by the Customs Department and under bond or guarantee of compliance with revenue laws. Goods are held until duties are paid and are normally stored in a bonded warehouse.




A type of bird that has little fear and therefore is particularly easy to catch.


Booby Hatch


A sliding hatch or cover.




Arrangements with a carrier, often a shipping line or airline, for the acceptance and carriage of passengers or freight. A space reservation on a vessel for carriage of goods at previously agreed for terms and conditions.


Booking Number


The reservation number used to secure equipment and act as a control number prior to the completion of a bill of lading. It is also the common reference for the carrier, the client and the terminal, truckers, etc..




A spar attached to the foot of a fore-and-aft sail. During certain sailing maneuvers, the boom moves rapidly from one side of the boat to the other.

Sailors must take care not to obstruct this movement with their head. Failure to do so can give one insight into the origins of the name “boom”…


Boom Vang or Vang


A sail control that lets you apply downward tension on a boom, countering the upward tension provided by the sail. The boom vang adds an element of control to sail shape when the sheet is let out enough that it no longer pulls the boom down. Boom vang tension helps control leech twist, a primary component of sail power.




Masts or yards, lying on board in reserve.


Bottom Air Delivery


A type of air circulation in a temperature control container. Air is pulled by a fan from the top of the container, passed through the evaporator coil for cooling and then forced through the space under the load and up through the cargo. This type of airflow provides even temperatures.


Bottom Side Rails


Structural members on the longitudinal sides of the base of a container.




Pledging a ship as security in a financial transaction. Money can be borrowed against a ship, or its equipment, repaid with interest upon the ship’s arrival at port, and forfeited should the ship sink.




The front of a ship.


Bow Thrusters


A small propeller or water-jet at the bow, used for manoeuvring larger vessels at slow speed. This may be mounted externally, or in a tunnel running through the bow from side to side.




A type of knot, producing a strong loop of a fixed size, topologically similar to a sheet bend. It is also a rope attached to the side of a sail to pull it towards the bow (for keeping the windward edge of the sail steady).




To pull or hoist.




A spar projecting from the bow used as an anchor for the forestay and other rigging.




A colloquial shipping phrase. A common term for an ocean-going freight container.


Box Car


A closed rail freight car.


Boxing the compass


To state all 32 points of the compass, starting at north, proceeding clockwise. The phrase is sometimes applied to a wind that is constantly shifting.




To furl or truss a sail by pulling it in towards the mast, or the ropes used to do so.




The handle of the pump, by which it is worked.


Brake horsepower


The measure of an engine’s horsepower without the loss in power caused by the gearbox, generator, differential, water pump, and other auxiliary components such as alternator, power steering pump, muffled exhaust system, etc. ‘Brake’ refers to a device which was used to load an engine and hold it at a desired RPM. During testing, the output torque and rotational speed were measured to determine the ‘brake horsepower’.


Break bulk


Break bulk




Palletised packaged goods that are not containerised. To break bulk is to unload and distribute a portion or all of the contents of a rail car



A structure above the weather deck, extending the full width of the vessel, which houses a command centre, itself called by association, the bridge.


Bridge Point


An inland location where the cargo is received by the ocean carrier and then moved to a coastal port for loading.


Bridge Port


A port where the cargo is received by the ocean carrier and stuffed into containers and then moved to another coastal port for loading onto a larger vessel.


Bring to


Cause a ship to be stationary by arranging the sails.




A sudden movement in navigation, when the ship, while scudding before the wind, accidentally turns her leeward side to windward. The term is also used to describe the point when water starts to come over the gunwhale due to this turn.


Broken Stowage


The loss of space caused by irregularity in the shape of packages.

Any void or empty space in a container not occupied by cargo.




A person or firm that establishes a connection between a buyer and a seller. Brokers operate in many fields: insurance, steamship transport, securities, drafts, and other phases of foreign trade. Not only do brokers bring buyers and sellers together, but they help to negotiate and close contracts and agreements between them.




Freight forwarder/broker compensation as specified by the ocean tariff.


Brussels Tariff Nomenclature


The old Customs Co-operation Council Nomenclature for the classification of goods. This has now been replaced by the Harmonised System.




The chief bosun’s mate (in the Royal Navy), responsible for discipline.


Bulk Cargo / Bulk Freight


Goods that are shipped loose – not in packages or containers (e.g. grain, coal, sulfur).


Bulk Freight Container


Refers to a container with two or three portholes on the top and discharge hatches in the doors; allows the container transport of free-flowing bulk commodities such as grain, iron ore and coal.




1. Upright partition dividing compartments on board a vessel. The functions of bulkheads are:

To increase the safety of a vessel by dividing it into compartments.

To separate the engine room from the cargo holds. To increase the transverse strength of a vessel.

To reduce the risk of spreading fire to other compartments.

2. A vertically mounted board to provide front wall protection against shifting cargo and commonly seen on platform trailers (road cargo).

3. A partition in a container, providing a plenum chamber and/or air passage for either return or supply air. It may be an integral part of the appliance or a separate construction.


Bull Rings


Cargo-securing devices mounted in a floor of containers that allow lashing and securing of cargo.




The extension of the ship’s side above the level of the weather deck.




A private boat selling goods.


Bumpkin or Boomkin


A spar, similar to a bowsprit, but which projects from the stern. May be used to attach the backstay or mizzen sheets.

An iron bar (projecting out-board from a ship’s side) to which the lower and topsail brace blocks are sometimes hooked.




(Tank) spaces on board a vessel to store fuel.


Bunker Adjustment Factor


Adjustment applied by shipping lines to offset the effect of fluctuations in the cost of bunkers.

Also known as Bunker Contribution or BUC, and also Fuel Adjustment Factor, or FAF.


Bunker Charge


An extra charge added to an ocean carrier’s freight rates. Also known as FAF (Fuel Adjustment Factor).




A maritime term referring to fuel used aboard the ship. Bunker fuel is technically any type of fuel oil used aboard ships. It gets its name from the containers on ships and in ports that it is stored in; in the days of steam they were coal bunkers but now they are bunker-fuel tanks.

For more information see HFO.


Bunting Tosser


A signalman who prepares and flies flag hoists. He is also known in the American Navy as a skivvy waver.




One of the lines tied to the bottom of a square sail and used to haul it up to the yard when furling.




A floating object of defined shape and colour, which is anchored at a given position and serves as an aid to navigation.




The upward force extended by the vertical component of integrated pressure acting on the hull below the waterline; usually calculated as being equal to the weight of the water displaced by the hull.


Buoyed up


Lifted by a buoy, especially a cable that has been lifted to prevent it from trailing on the bottom.


Bureau of Export Administration


The primary U.S. Government export control authority.


Bureau Veritas


Bureau Veritas S. A. (formerly BVQI, Bureau Veritas Quality International) is an international certification agency. The company started in 1828 in Antwerp as Bureau de Renseignements pour les Assurances Maritimes (Information Office for Maritime Insurance), a classification society. In 1829, the company was renamed Bureau Veritas. By this time it already had 10000 ships in its register. Today, Bureau Veritas is one of the world’s largest global Conformity Assessment and Certification organisations.

In addition to certifications, they are a worldwide leading firm in providing HSE expertise (Health, Safety and Environmental).

Today the headquarters are in Neuilly-sur-Seine, nearby La Défense. The company went public on the Paris Bourse in October 2007.

Website :


Buyer’s Market


A ‘buyer’s market’ is considered to exist when goods can easily be secured and when the economic forces of business tend to cause goods to be priced at the purchaser’s estimate of value. In other words, a state of trade favourable to the buyer, with relatively large supply and low prices.


By and large


By means into the wind

By the board


Any items to have gone overboard.

C.C.C. Mark


China Compulsory Certification; A compulsory safety mark for many products sold on the Chinese market.

It became effective on May 1st, 2002. It is the result of the integration of China’s two old compulsory inspection systems, namely ‘CCIB’ (Safety Mark, introduced in 1989 and required for products in 47 product categories) and ‘CCEE’ (also known as ‘Great Wall’ Mark, for electrical commodities in 7 product categories), into a single procedure.


C.E. Mark


The CE marking is a mandatory conformity mark on many products placed on the single market in the European Economic Area (EEA). The CE marking certifies that a product has met EU consumer safety, health or environmental requirements.


C.F.S. Receiving Service


The term ‘CFS Receiving Services’ means the service performed at loading port in receiving and packing cargo into containers from CFS to CY or shipside. ‘CFS Receiving Services’ referred herein are restricted to the following:

Moving empty containers from CY to CFS

Drayage of loaded containers from CFS to CY and/or ship’s tackle


Issuing dock receipt/shipping order

Physical movement of cargo into, out of and within CFS

Stuffing, sealing and marking containers


Ordinary sorting and stacking

Preparing carrier’s internal container load plan


C.I.F. & C.


A price which includes commission as well as CIF.


C.Y./C.F.S. (House to Pier)


The term CY/CFS means containers packed by the shipper off a carrier’s premises and delivered by the shipper to the carrier’s CY, all at shipper’s risk and expense and unpacked by carrier at the destination port CFS.




An enclosed room or compartment on a vessel.




A large rope.


Cable length


A measure of length or distance. It is equivalent to (UK) 1/10 nautical mile, approx. 600 feet; (USA) 120 fathoms, 720 feet (219 m); other countries use different values.




A French term, also used in English, to refer to the coasting trade, shipments between ports of a same nation.

Cabotage is often governed by statutes, requiring, for example, that only ships flying the flag of the coastal state concerned may engage in the coasting trade between ports of that state, unless ‘waivers’ are obtained from the government of the state.




The transportation of goods by truck to or from a vessel, aircraft, or bonded warehouse, all under customs custody.




The visit of a vessel to a port.


Call Sign


One of the earliest applications of radiotelegraph operation, long predating broadcast radio, were marine radio stations installed aboard ships at sea. Merchant vessels are assigned call signs by their national licensing authorities.

In the case of states such as Liberia or Panama, which are flags of convenience for ship registration, call signs for larger vessels consist of the national prefix plus three letters (for example, 3LXY, and sometimes followed by a number, i.e. 3Lxy2).




A type of anti-personnel cannon load in which lead balls or other loose metallic items were enclosed in a tin or iron shell. On firing, the shell would disintegrate releasing the smaller metal objects.


Canoe Stern


A design for the stern of a yacht which is pointed, like a bow, rather than squared off as a transom.




The total internal container volume (LxWxD) or weight limitation.


Cape Horn Fever


The name of the fake illness from which a malingerer is pretending to suffer.




A vessel whose large size prevents it from entering the locks of the Panama Canal and thus forces it to pass around Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope.




When a ship or boat lists too far and rolls over, exposing the keel. On large vessels, this often results in the sinking of the ship.




A large winch with a vertical axis. A full-sized human-powered capstan is a waist-high cylindrical machine, operated by a number of hands who each insert a horizontal capstan bar in holes in the capstan and walk in a circle. Used to wind in anchors or other heavy objects; and sometimes to administer flogging over.


Captain’s Protest


A document prepared by the captain of a vessel on arriving at port. It shows conditions encountered during voyage, generally for the purpose of relieving ship owner of any loss to cargo and shifting responsibility for the reimbursement to the insurance company.


Captive Register


A register of ships maintained by a territory, possession, or colony primarily or exclusively for the use of ships owned in the parent country; also referred to as an offshore register, the offshore equivalent of an internal register.

Ships on a captive register will fly the same flag as the parent country, or a local variant of it, but will be subject to the maritime laws and taxation rules of the offshore territory.

Although the nature of a captive register makes it especially desirable for ships owned in the parent country, just as in the internal register, the ships may also be owned abroad. The captive register then acts as a flag of convenience register, except that it is not the register of an independent state.


Car Pooling


The use of individual carrier equipment through a central agency for the benefit of carriers and shippers.




Tilting a ship on its side, usually when beached, to clean or repair the hull below the water line.




A barge equipped with tracks on which up to 12 railroad cars are moved in harbours or inland waterways.


Cargo Not Otherwise Specified
(Cargo N.O.S.)


Cargo Not Otherwise Specified, usually the first rate entry in a tariff that can apply to commodities not covered under a specific item or sub-item in the applicable tariff.


Cargo Preference


Cargo reserved by a nation’s laws for transportation only on vessels registered in that nation. Typically the cargo is moving due to a direct or indirect support or activity of the Government.


Cargo Receipt


Receipt of cargo for shipment by a consolidator (used in ocean freight).


Cargo Tonnage


The weight ton varies from country to country

– United States : 2,000 (short ton) or 2,240 pounds (long ton);

– United Kingdom: the English long ton, or gross ton is 2,240 pounds;

– France and other countries having the metric system, the weight ton is 2,204.62 pounds.

The measurement ton is usually 40 cubic feet (1.12 meters) or 1 cubic meter (35.3 cubic feet), but in some instances a large number of cubic feet is taken as a weight ton.

Most breakbulk ocean freight is billed at weight or measurement tons (W/M).


Cargoans frieght
(C & F)


An obsolete Incoterms Term of Sale. Although heavily used, this term of sale meaning ‘Cargo & Freight’ whereby the seller pays for the costs of goods and freight charges up to the destination port. In 1990 the term was replaced with ‘CFR’.


Carload Rate


A rate applicable to a carload of goods.




A Customs document permitting the holder to temporarily carry or send merchandise into certain foreign countries (for display, demonstration or similar purposes) without paying duties or posting bonds.


Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (1)


An American term, known under its abbreviations, COGSA. US federal codification passed in 1936 which standardises carrier’s liability under carrier’s bill of lading. US enactment of The Hague Rules.


Carriage of Goods by Sea Act


A US federal codification passed in 1936 which standardises the carrier’s liability under the carrier’s bill of lading. U.S. enactment of The Hague Rules.




Any individual or organisation who in a contract of carriage, undertakes to perform or procure the performance of carriage by rail, road, sea, air, inland waterway or a combination of such modes.


Carrier(s) Containers or Shipper(s) Containers


The term Carrier(s) Container(s) or Shipper(s) Container(s) means containers over which the carrier or the shipper has control either by ownership or by the acquisition thereof under lease or rental from container companies or container suppliers or from similar sources. Carriers are prohibited from purchasing, leasing or renting shipper-owned containers.


Carrier, Common


A public or privately owned firm or corporation that transports the goods of others over land, sea, or through the air, for a stated freight rate. By government regulation, a common carrier is required to carry all goods offered if accommodations are available and the established rate is paid.


Cars Knocked Down


Automobile parts and sub-assemblies manufactured abroad and transported to a US assembly plant.




The trucking, draying or carting of freight. Expression for the rate charged for picking up the goods from the sender or for house delivery. The term is derived from when this was done by cart. It usually refers to a small distance (locally inside a pier, for instance).

For more information see Drayage (same), and Haulage (long-distance).




An association of several independent national or international business organisations that regulates competition by controlling the prices, the production, or the marketing of a product or an industry.




This is a Customs form permitting in-bond cargo to be moved from one location to another under Customs control, within the same district. A common example would be in a motor carrier’s possession while draying cargo.


Cash Against Documents (1)


A method of payment for goods in which documents transferring title are given the buyer upon payment of cash to an intermediary acting for the seller, usually a commission house.


Cash against documents


A method of payment for goods in which documents transferring title are given to the buyer upon payment of cash to an intermediary acting for the seller.


Cash in advance


Cash in advance


Cash in Advance (1)


A method of payment for goods in which the buyer pays the seller in advance of the shipment of the goods. The deal is usually employed when the goods, such as specialised machinery, are built to order.


Cash With Order (1)


A method of payment for goods in which cash is paid at the time of the order and the transaction becomes binding on both buyer and seller.


Cash with order


Cash with order




To prepare an anchor, after raising it by lifting it with a tackle to the cat head, prior to securing (fishing) it alongside for sea. (An anchor raised to the cat head is said to be catted).

The cat o’ nine tails (see further below).

A cat-rigged boat or catboat.


Cat Head


A beam extending out from the hull used to support an anchor when raised in order to secure or ‘fish’ it.


Cat o’ nine tails


A short nine-tailed whip kept by the bosun’s mate to flog sailors (and soldiers in the Army). When not in use, the cat was kept in a baize bag, hence the term ‘cat out of the bag’. ‘Not enough room to swing a cat’ also derives from this.




A vessel with two hulls.




A cat-rigged vessel with a single mast mounted close to the bow and only one sail, usually on a gaff.


Cell Guides


A fixed racking system for securing all containers stowed above deck. With cell guides, it is virtually impossible to lose a container overboard during rough weather conditions.


Cell Position


The location of a cell on board a container vessel identified by a code for successively 1) the bay, 2) the row and 3) the tier, indicating the position of a container on that vessel.




Areas of uniform size within a cargo vessel into which standard-sized containers can be loaded for optimum stability and minimum wasted space. In modern vessels cells typically have guides for cranes at each corner to increase the speed and efficiency of loading and unloading containers.

The construction system employed in modern cellular container carriers; permits quick loading and discharge of sea containers under-deck, stowed in a vertical line with each container supporting the one above it. Cells are modular, meaning vessel capacity can be increased simply by adding cells to the length of the vessel.


Cellular Vessel


A vessel constructed of a number of prefabricated cells, designed with internal ribbing to permit the support of stacked containers






Centre of Gravity


The point of equilibrium of the combined weight of a containership and its cargo. For maximum stability, it must be as low as possible in the centre of the structure.




A board or plate lowered through the hull of a dinghy on the centreline to resist leeway.


Certificate of Analysis


A certificate required by some countries as proof of the quality and composition of food products or pharmaceuticals. The required analysis may be made by a private or government health agency. The certificate must be legalised by a foreign consul of the country concerned, as is the case with such similar certificates as the phytosanitary certificate.


Certificate of Inspection


A document certifying that merchandise (such as perishable goods) was in good condition immediately prior to its shipment.


Certificate of Weight


A certified statement of the weight of a shipment.




Legally passing on something someone is entitled to another legal entity.




Wear on line or sail caused by constant rubbing against another surface.


Chafing gear


Material applied to a line or spar to prevent or reduce chafing.

For more information see ‘Baggywrinkle’.




Cannon balls linked with a chain used to damage rigging and masts.


Chain-wale or Channel


A broad, thick plank that projects horizontally from each of a ship’s sides abreast a mast, distinguished as the fore, main, or mizzen channel accordingly, serving to extend the base for the shrouds, which supports the mast.




A person who deals in the selling of provisions, dried stores and consumables aboard a vessel.


Chargeable Kilo


The rate for goods where volume exceeds six cubic metres to the tonne.


Charges, Statement of


A detailed statement of all charges sent to the importer, illustrating how the charges were calculated. The statement of charges deals with charges incurred by the shipper to the importer, outside of the quoted or agreed price.


Charter Party


A bill of lading issued under a charter party. It is not acceptable by banks under letters of credit unless so authorised in the credit.


Charter Party Bill of Lading


A bill of lading used as a proof of receipt of goods issued by the charterer who charters a vessel to the shipper or shippers for whom the charterer has agreed to transport cargo.




The legal person who has signed a charter party with the owner of a vessel or an aircraft and thus hires or leases a vessel or an aircraft or a part of the capacity thereof.


Chase Gun’, Chase Piece or Chaser


A cannon pointing forward or aft, often boasting a longer range than other guns. Those on the bow (bow chaser) were used to fire upon a ship ahead, while those on the rear (stern chaser) were used to ward off pursuing vessels. Unlike guns pointing to the side, chasers could be brought to bear in a chase without slowing.




A frame with wheels and container locking devices in order to secure and move containers. In the USA carriers must have enough chassis available to move containers on the roads. US truckers only come with their tractors, onto which the chassis attach.


China classification Society


A a classification society of ships, started in 1956, as a non-profit making body in the People’s Republic of China to perform classification survey, certification survey and notarial survey of ships including offshore installations, containers and related industrial products both at home and abroad.

CCS also conduct statutory work on behalf of the Chinese Government and other flag administrations.

CCS joined the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) as a full member in May 1988.




A relatively sharp angle in the hull, as compared to the rounded bottoms of most traditional boat hulls.

A line formed where the sides of a boat meet the bottom. Soft chine is when the two sides join at a shallow angle, and hard chine is when they join at a steep angle.




A piece of wood or other material placed at the side of cargo to prevent rolling or moving sideways.




Rigging blocks that are so tight against one another that they cannot be further tightened.


Civil Red Ensign


The British Naval Ensign or Flag of the British Merchant Navy, a red flag with the Union Flag in the upper left corner. This is colloquially called the ‘red duster’.




A demand made upon a transportation line for payment of a loss sustained through alleged negligence.


Class Rates


A rate applicable to a class rating to which articles are assigned in a Tariff classification. A ‘Class Tariff’ is a tariff containing only class rates (another kind of tariff is a ‘Commodity Tariff’ that includes only commodity rates – can also be mixed class & commodities).




A publication, such as the Uniform Freight Classification (railroad) or the National Motor Freight Classification (motor carrier), that assigns ratings to various articles and provides bill of lading descriptions and rules.


Classification Yard


A railroad yard with many tracks used for assembling freight trains.


Clayton Act


An anti-trust act of the U.S. Congress making price discrimination unlawful.


Clean Bill Of Health


A certificate issued by a port indicating that the ship carries no infectious diseases.

This is also called a pratique.


Clean Bill of Lading


A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were received in ‘good order and condition,’ without damage or other irregularities. If no notations or exceptions are noted, the B/L is assumed to be ‘clean.’


Clean Draft


A draft to which no documents have been attached.


Clean On Board


For more information see ‘Clean Bill of Lading’.


Clean Slate


At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.


Clearance Limits


The size beyond which cars or loads cannot use tunnels, bridges, etc.




A stationary device used to secure a rope aboard a vessel. A strip of wood or metal used to afford additional strength, to prevent warping, or to hold in place.




A method of fixing together two pieces of wood, usually overlapping planks, by driving a nail through both planks as well as a washer-like rove. The nail is then burred or riveted over to complete the fastening.




The lower corners of square sails or the corner of a triangular sail at the end of the boom.




These are used to truss up the clews, the lower corners of square sails.


Clip on Unit


Refrigeration equipment attachable to an insulated container that does not have its own refrigeration unit. For more information see Gen Set, Generator Set.


Close Aboard


Near a ship.


Closed Ventilated Container


A container of a closed type, similar to a general purpose container, but specially designed for carriage of cargo where ventilation, either natural or mechanical (forced), is necessary.




Of a vessel beating as close to the wind direction as possible.


Closing Date


The latest date cargo is accepted for shipment by ship-owner for specified sailing.

Cargo refused shipment because it arrived after the closing date is ‘shut-out.’


Club Hauling


The ship drops one of its anchors at high speed to turn abruptly. This was sometimes used as a means to get a good firing angle on a pursuing vessel.




The raised edge of a hatch, cockpit or skylight to help keep out water.




A relative small ship plying between coastal ports.




Water transportation along the coast.


Code of federal regulations


Each arm of the Federal U.S. Government has their own; CFR49 concerns the Coast Guard and Hazardous Materials / CFR19 concerns the U.S. Customs.

Also Incoterms ‘Cost and Freight’ but most commonly abbreviated CFR.


Collect, or cash delivery


Collect, or cash delivery




A draft drawn on buyer, usually accompanied by documents, with complete instructions concerning processing for payment or acceptance.


Collective Paper


All documents (commercial invoices, bills of lading, etc.) submitted to a buyer for the purpose of receiving payment for a shipment.


Combination Export Mgr.


A firm that acts as an export sales agent for more than one non-competing manufacturer.


Combined Transport


Intermodal transport where the major part of the journey is by one mode such as rail, inland waterway or sea and any initial and/or final leg carried out by another mode such as road.


Combined Transport Bill of Lading


For more information see Bill of Lading.


Combined Transport Document


Negotiable or non-negotiable document evidencing a contract for the performance and/or procurement of performance of combined transport of goods. Thus a combined transport document is a document issued by a Carrier who contracts as a principal with the Merchant to effect a combined transport often on a door-to-door basis.


Commercial Code


A published code designed to reduce the total number of words required in a cablegram.


Commercial Invoice


A complete record of a transaction between exporter and importer with regard to goods sold. Also reports the content of the shipment and serves as the basis for all other documents about the shipment.


Committee on international trade of endangered species


Committee on international trade of endangered species




Anything movable (a good) that is bought and sold.


Commodity Box Rate


A rate classified by commodity and quoted per container.


Commodity Code


For more information see Harmonised System.

Goods which are the most commonly produced and traded have been classified and coded.

The HS is a six-digit nomenclature. The first four digits are referred to as the heading. The first six digits are known as a subheading.


Commodity Rate


A rate published to apply to a specific article or articles.


Commodity Tariff


A tariff published to show specific rates on specific articles.


Common Law


A law that derives its force and authority from precedent, custom and usage rather than from statutes, particularly with reference to the laws of England and the United States.


Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores


A Chilean carrier


Compagnie Générale Maritime


An abbreviation for ‘Compagnie Générale Maritime,’ founded in 1855 and renamed as Compagnie Générale Transatlantique in 1861. The two companies merged to form Compagnie Générale Maritime in 1973 as a French state-run entity.

Jacques Saadé, created CMA in 1977 as an intra-Mediterranean liner service. In 1996, CGM was privatised and sold to Compagnie Maritime d’Affr�tement (CMA) to form CMA CGM.




The navigational instrument that revolutionised travel, determining direction (North, South, East and West).


Concealed Damage


Damage that is not evident from viewing the unopened package.


Confirmed Letter of Credit


A letter of credit issued by a foreign bank whose validity has been confirmed by a domestic bank. An exporter with a confirmed letter of credit is assured of payment even if the foreign buyer or foreign bank defaults.


Confirming Bank


The bank that adds its confirmation to another bank’s (the Issuing Bank’s) Letter of Credit and promises to pay the beneficiary upon presentation of the documents specified in the Letter of Credit (this can be the Seller’s bank or another bank in the country of the Seller).




The taking and holding of private property by a Government or an agency acting for a Government. Compensation may or may not be given to the owner of the property.




Accumulation of vessels at a port to the extent that vessels arriving to load or discharge are obliged to wait for a vacant berth. There can be a corresponding ‘Congestion Surcharge’ to offset the cost of the waiting time.


Connecting Carrier


A carrier which has a direct physical connection with, or forms a link between, two or more carriers.


Connecting Carrier Agreement


A contract between the originating carrier and a second party, where the second party agrees to carry goods to a final destination with a Bill of Lading.




The individual or company to whom a seller or shipper sends merchandise and who, upon presentation of necessary documents, is recognised as the merchandise owner for the purpose of declaring and paying customs duties.


Consignee Marks


A symbol placed on packages for identification purposes; generally a triangle, square, circle etc., with letters and/or numbers and port discharge.




A term used to describe any person who consigns goods to himself or to another party in a bill of lading or equivalent document. A consignor might be the owner of the goods, or a freight forwarder who consigns goods on behalf of his principal.




To group and stuff several shipments together in one container.


Consolidated Cargo


Cargo containing the shipments of two or more shippers, usually coordinated by a consolidator.


Consolidated Container


A container stuffed with several shipments (consignments) from different shippers for delivery to one or more consignees.


Consolidated Shipment


An arrangement whereby various shippers pool their boxed goods on the same shipment, sharing the total weight charge for the shipment.




The combination of many small shipments into one container.




A person or firm performing a consolidation service for others. Takes advantage of lower full container load (FCL) rates, and the savings are passed on to shippers.




A Government official residing in a foreign country who represents the interests of his or her country and nationals.


Consular Declaration


A formal statement describing goods to be shipped, filled in and approved by the consul of the country of destination prior to shipment.


Consular Invoice


A document, certified by a consular official, is required by some countries to describe a shipment. It is used by Customs of the foreign country to verify value, quantity and nature of the cargo.




An intermodal container (also container, freight container, ISO container, shipping container or simply ‘box’) is a standardised reusable steel box used for the safe, efficient and secure storage and movement of materials and products within a global containerised intermodal freight transport system.

‘Intermodal’ indicates that the container can be moved from one mode of transport to another (from ship, to rail, to truck) without unloading and reloading the contents of the container.

Lengths of such containers, which each have a unique ISO 6346 reporting mark, vary from 8 feet (2.438 m) to 56 feet (17.07 m) and heights from 8 feet (2.438 m) to 9 feet 6 inches (2.9 m).

There are approximately 17 million intermodal containers in the world of varying types to suit different cargoes.

For air freight the alternative and lighter IATA-defined Unit Load Device is used.

Non-container methods of transport include bulk cargo, break bulk cargo and tank cars, tank trucks or oil tankers used for liquids or gases.


Container Booking


Arrangements with a steamship line to transport containerised cargo.


Container Check Digit


The seventh digit of the serial number of a container used to check whether prefix and serial number are correct (ex: MSCU-123456-7).


Container Corporation of India


Container Corporation of India


Container Equivalents (FEU / TEU)


40-foot equivalent / 20-foot equivalent.

The standard conversion is recognised internationally and issued to compare the number (not weight) of containers that a lot can accommodate.

It is also used to compute the required volume of Service Contracts.


Container Freight Station (3)


Abbreviation: CFS. A facility at which (export) LCL cargo is received from merchants for loading (stuffing) into containers or at which (import) LCL cargo is unloaded (stripped) from containers and delivered to merchants.


Container freight station


Container freight station


Container freight station (1)
(C.F.S./C.F.S. (pier-to-pier))


The term CFS/CFS means cargo delivered by breakbulk to carrier’s container freight station (CFS) to be packed by carrier into containers and to be unpacked by carrier from the container at carrier’s destination port CFS.


Container freight station charge


The Container Freight Station Charge is the charge assessed for services performed at the loading or discharging port in packing or unpacking of cargo into/from containers at the CFS.


Container Freight Station to Container Freight Station


A type of steamship line service in which cargo is transported between container freight stations, where containers may be stuffed, stripped, or consolidated.

It is usually used for less-than-containerload shipments although small shipments destined to the same consignee are often consolidated into full containers as well as reloading containerload quantities from ‘foreign’ rail or motor carrier equipment.


Container Lease


The contract by which the owner of containers (lessor) gives the use of containers to a lessee for a specified period of time and for fixed payments.


Container Load


A load sufficient in size to fill a container either by cubic measurement or by weight.


Container Number


ISO 6346 is an international standard managed by the International Container Bureau (BIC) for coding, identification and marking of intermodal containers.


Container on a flat car


An American abbreviation for the railroad service, ‘Container on a Flat Car’ as opposed to ‘Trailer On a Flat Car,’ refers to the mode of carriage of rail shipments.


Container Part Load


A shipment that does not utilise the full volume of a container nor the maximum payload by weight. Usually, additional part loads are added to fill the container for transport.


Container Pool


An agreement between transportation companies that allows for the most efficient use and supply of containers (containers from different owners are ‘pooled’ together and everyone can use any one of them).


Container Security Initiative (1)


A post 9-11 initiative, CSI addresses the threat to border security and global trade posed by the potential for terrorist use of a maritime container to deliver a weapon. CSI proposes a security regime to ensure all containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the USA.

The basic premise is to extend the zone of security outward so that American borders are the last line of defence, not the first. It was announced by Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Robert C. Bonner in January 2002.

CSI is now operational at ports in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin and Central America. CBP’s 58 operational CSI ports now prescreen over 80 percent of all maritime containerised cargo imported into the USA.


Container security initiative


A post 9-11 initiative, CSI addresses the threat to border security and global trade posed by the potential for terrorist use of a maritime container to deliver a weapon. CSI proposes a security regime to ensure all containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the USA.

The basic premise is to extend the zone of security outward so that American borders are the last line of defence, not the first. It was announced by Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Robert C. Bonner in January 2002.

CSI is now operational at ports in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin and Central America. CBP’s 58 operational CSI ports now prescreen over 80 percent of all maritime containerised cargo imported into the USA.


Container service charge


For more information see THC.


Container Stack


Two or more containers, one placed above the other, forming a vertical column.


Container Sublease


Contract by which a carrier gives the use of containers to another carrier for a specified period of time and for fixed payments.


Container Terminal


An area designated for the stowage of containerised cargoes; usually accessible by truck, railroad and marine transportation. Containers are picked-up, dropped-off, maintained and housed here.


Container yard


The location designated by the carrier in the port terminal area for receiving, assembling, holding, storing and delivering containers, and where containers may be picked up by shippers or re-delivered by consignees.

No container yard (CY) shall be a shipper’s, consignee’s, NVOCC’s, or a forwarder’s place of business, unless otherwise provided.


Containerisable Cargo


Cargo that fits into a container resulting in an economical transport.


Continuous Bond


An annual Customs bond insuring compliance with all regulations and requirements.




Used for goods that by their nature, e.g. too dangerous or offensive in the eyes of the legislator (those are termed contraband in se) are forbidden, and for so-called derivative contraband, i.e. goods that may normally be owned but are liable to be seized because they were used in committing an unlawful act and hence begot illegally, such as:

smuggling goods.

stolen goods – knowingly participating in their trade is an offense in itself, called fencing.

the fruits of fraud, forgery etc.

The word is also used as an adjective, again meaning ‘distributed or sold illicitly’.


Contract Carrier


Any person not a common carrier who, under special and individual contracts or agreements, transports passengers or property for compensation.


Contract Rates


This can refer to ‘service contract’ rates which are low; favourable rates fixed over an extended period of time in exchange for which the carrier receives a volume commitment from the shipper.


Controlled Atmosphere


Sophisticated, computer-controlled systems that manage the mixtures of gases within a container throughout an intermodal journey reducing decay.


Conventional Cargo


For more information see Breakbulk cargo.


Coordinating Committee for Export Controls


An informal group of 15 Western countries established to prevent the export of certain strategic products to potentially hostile nations.


Corner Posts


Vertical frames components fitted at the corners of the container, integral to the corner fittings and connecting the roof and floor structures. Containers are lifted and secured in a stack using the castings at the ends.




A device to correct the ship’s compass.

Short for ‘Manifest Corrector.’


Correspondent Bank


A bank that, in its own country, handles the business of a foreign bank.


Cost and Insurance (1)


A price that includes the cost of goods, the marine insurance and all transportation charges with the exception of ocean freight to the named point of destination.


Cost and insurance


An abbreviation for the Incoterms ‘Cost and Insurance’. A price that includes the cost of goods, the marine insurance and all transportation charges with the exception of ocean freight to the named point of destination.


Cost, insurance and freight
(C.I.F. [named port])


The price determined at the point of destination that includes the cost of goods. The marine insurance and all transportation charges are calculated from the point of destination.


Cost, insurance and freight (1)


The price determined at the point of destination that includes the cost of goods. The marine insurance and all transportation charges are calculated from point of destination.


Cost, insurance, freight, collection and interest


Cost, insurance, freight, collection and interest


Cost, insurance, frieght and exchange
(C.I.F. & E.)


Cost, insurance, frieght and exchange


Cost, insurance,freight, interest and exchange
(C.I.F.I. & I.)


Cost, insurance,freight, interest and exchange


Council of European and Japanese National Shipowner’s Association


Council of European and Japanese National Shipowner’s Association




The part of the stern above the waterline that extends beyond the rudder stock culminating in a small transom. A long counter increases the waterline length when the boat is heeled, which subsequently increases hull speed.




A reciprocal trading arrangement, which includes a variety of transactions involving two or more parties.


Countervailing Duties


Special Customs duties imposed on imports to offset the benefits of subsidies to producers or exporters of the exporting country.


Country of Origin


The country where the merchandise was grown, mined, or manufactured, in accordance with US Customs regulations. In instances where the country of origin cannot be determined, transactions are credited to the country of shipment.


Country of Provenance


The country from which goods or cargo are sent to the importing country.


Coxswain or cockswain


The helmsman or crew member in command of a boat.


Credit Risk Insurance


Insurance designed to cover risks of non-payment for delivered goods.




A rope loop, usually at the corners of a sail, for fixing the sail to a spar. They are often reinforced with a metal eye.


Cro’jack or crossjack


This is a square yard used to spread the foot of a topsail where no course is set, e.g. on the foremast of a topsail schooner or above the driver on the mizzen mast of a ship rigged vessel.


Cross Member


Transverse members fitted to the bottom side rails of a container, which support the floor.


Cross Trees


A strong cross piece which spreads the top mast stays allowing for taller masts, larger top sails. Allows the height of the ships mast to be extended.


Crow flies (as the)


A direct line between two points (which might cross land) which is the way crows travel rather than ships which must go around land.


Crow’s nest


Specifically a masthead constructed with sides and sometimes a roof to shelter the lookouts from the weather, generally by whaling vessels, this term has become a generic term for what is properly called masthead. For more information see masthead.


Cube Out


A container reaching its volumetric capacity before its permitted weight limit.


Cubic metre


Cubic metre




A small cabin in a boat.




A line invented by Briggs Cunningham, used to control the shape of a sail.


Currency adjustment factor


A charge, expressed as a percentage of a base rate that is applied to compensate ocean carriers of currency fluctuations.




A US Treasury Department office where duties, etc., on foreign shipments are handled.


Customhouse Broker


A person or firm engaged in entering and clearing goods cross border, licensed by the treasury department of their country when required.




The Government agency charged with enforcing the rules passed to protect the country’s import and export revenues.


Customs Bonded Warehouse


A warehouse where goods may be stored, authorised and established by Customs.


Customs centralised examination facility


Customs centralised examination facility


Customs Court


The court to which importers might appeal or protest decisions made by Customs officers.


Customs Entry


All countries require that the importer make a declaration on incoming foreign goods. The importer then normally pays a duty on the imported merchandise. The importer’s statement is compared against the carrier’s vessel manifest to ensure that all foreign goods are properly declared.


Customs examination station


Customs examination station


Customs Invoice


A form requiring all data in a commercial invoice along with a certificate of value and/or a certificate or origin. This is only required in some countries (usually former British territories) and serves as a seller’s commercial invoice.


Customs Union


An agreement between two or more countries in which they arrange to abolish tariffs and other import restrictions on each other’s goods and establish a common tariff for the imports of all other countries.


Customs-trade partnership against terrorism


A voluntary supply chain security program led by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and focused on improving the security of private companies’ supply chains with respect to terrorism.

The program was launched in November 2001 with seven initial participants, all large U.S. companies. Today there are more than 10,000 companies participating.


Cut and run


When wanting to make a quick escape, a ship might cut lashings to sails or cables for anchors, causing damage to the rigging, or losing an anchor, but shortening the time needed to make ready by bypassing the proper procedures.


Cut of his jib


The ‘cut’ of a sail refers to its shape. Since this would vary between ships, it could be used both to identify a familiar vessel at a distance, and to judge the possible sailing qualities of an unknown one. Also used figuratively of people.


Cut-Off Time


(same as ‘Closing Date’) The latest time a container may be delivered to a terminal for loading to a scheduled train or ship. Cargo refused shipment because it arrived after the closing date is ‘shut-out.’


Cut-off Time (1)


The latest time cargo may be delivered to a terminal for loading to a scheduled train or ship.



A type of light centreboard that is lifted vertically; often in pairs, with the leeward one lowered when beating.


Damage Report


A form on which on-board physical damage is recorded (e.g. containers).


Damaged Cargo Report


A written statement concerning established damages to cargo and/or on-board equipment.


Dangerous Articles Tariff


Dangerous Articles Tariff


Dangerous Goods


The term used by the International Maritime Organisation for hazardous cargo or materials. This includes articles or substances capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety or property, and that ordinarily require special attention when being transported.


Dangerous Goods Declaration


The document issued by a consignor in accordance with applicable conventions or regulations, describing hazardous goods or materials for transport purposes. It also states that the latter have been packed and labelled in accordance with the provisions of the relevant conventions or regulations.


Dangerous Goods Requirement


Dangerous Goods Requirement


Date Draft


The latest time cargo may be delivered to a terminal for loading to a scheduled train or ship. See Draft, bank.


Davy Jones’ Locker


An idiom for the bottom of the sea.


Day Beacon


An unlighted fixed structure which is equipped with a dayboard for daytime identification.




The daytime identifier of an aid to navigation, presenting one of several standard shapes (square, triangle, rectangle) and colours (red, green, white, orange, yellow, or black).


Dead Freight


This relates to freight charges to be paid by the shipper for space previously booked but not used. The unused reserved slot in the containership represents a loss of revenue for the carrier. Therefore the deadfreight is charged to the shipper in an attempt to recoup some of that loss.


Dead Leg


A sector navigated without payload.


Dead run


See Running.




A wooden block with holes which is spliced to a shroud. It is used to adjust the tension in the standing rigging of large sailing vessels, by lacing through the holes with a lanyard to the deck. It performs the same job as a turnbuckle.




Haulage: one leg of a move without a paying cargo load. Either a bobtail tractor alone or a tractor pulling an empty container during the repositioning of an empty piece of equipment.




The design angle between the keel (q.v.) and horizontal.


(D.W. / DWT / DWAT / DWCC)


The most common, and useful, measurement for shipping as it measures cargo capacity: The number of tons (2240 lbs.) of cargo, stores and bunkers that a vessel can transport. It is the difference between the number of tons of water a vessel displaces ‘light’ and the number of tons it displaces ‘when submerged to the ‘deep load line’.’ A vessel’s cargo capacity is less than its total deadweight tonnage.


Deadweight Cargo


A long ton of cargo that can be stowed in less than 70 cubic feet.


Deadweight for cargo


Deadweight for cargo


Deadweight Tonnage


The number of tons (2,240 pounds) of cargo, stores and bunker fuel that a vessel can transport. It is the difference between the number of tons it displaces when submerged to the ‘load water line. (The net tonnage refers only to the cargo- and-passenger-carrying capacity).


Deadweight Tonnage (1)
(D/W or Dwt)


Deadweight tonnage (also known as deadweight, abbreviated to DWT, D.W.T., d.w.t., or dwt) is a measure of how much weight a ship is carrying or can safely carry. It is the sum of the weights of cargo, fuel, fresh water, ballast water, provisions, passengers and crew. The term is often used to specify a ship’s maximum permissible deadweight, the DWT when the ship is fully loaded so that its Plimsoll line is at the point of submersion.




A wooden part of the centreline structure of a boat, usually between the sternpost and amidships.


Deck Cargo


Cargo carried on deck rather than stowed under deck. On-deck carriage is required for certain commodities, such as explosives.


Deck Hand


A person whose job involves aiding the deck supervisor in (un)mooring, anchoring, maintenance, and general evolutions on deck.


Deck Supervisor


The person in charge of all evolutions and maintenance on deck; sometimes split into two groups: forward deck supervisor and aft deck supervisor.




The underside of a deck in a ship. It bears the same relationship to a compartment on the deck below as does the ceiling to the room of a house.




The structures forming the approximately horizontal surfaces in the ship’s general structure. Unlike flats, they are a structural part of the ship.


Declaration of Origin


Appropriate statement as to the origin of the goods, made in connection with their exportation by the manufacturer, producer, supplier, exporter or other competent person on the commercial invoice or any document relating to goods.


Declared Value for Carriage


The value of the goods, declared by the shipper on a bill of lading, for the purpose of determining a freight rate or the limit of the carrier’s liability.


Deconsolidation Point


A point where loose or other non-containerised cargo is ungrouped for delivery.


Deferred Payment Credit


A letter of credit providing payment once all shipping documents have been presented by the exporter.


Deferred Rebate


The return of a portion of the freight charges by a carrier or a conference shipper in exchange for the shipper giving all or most of his shipments to the carrier or conference over a specified period of time (usually six months). Payment of the rate is deferred for a further similar period, during which the shipper must continue to give all or most of his shipments to the rebating carrier or conference. The shipper thus earns a further rebate which will not, however, be paid without an additional period of exclusive or almost exclusive patronage with the carrier of conference. In this way, the shipper becomes tied to the rebating carrier or conference. Although, the deferred rebate system is illegal in U.S. foreign commerce, it generally is accepted in the ocean trade between foreign countries.


Deficit Weight


A weight by which a shipment is less than the minimum weight.




Relates to consolidation of cargo. The splitting up of shipments into small consignments.


Delivered Duty Unpaid


An incoterm from the ICC. This reflects the emergence of ‘door-to-door’ intermodal or courier contracts or carriage where only the destination customs duty and taxes (if any) are paid by consignee.


Delivered Ex-Quay/duty paid


An incoterm from the ICC.




The transfer of property/goods from consignor to carrier, one carrier to another, or carrier to consignee.


Delivery Authorised Document


A USA import Customs term.


Delivery Instructions


Provides specific information to the inland carrier concerning the arrangement made by the forwarder to deliver the merchandise to a particular pier or steamship line. Not to be confused with a Delivery Order, which is used for import cargo.


Delivery, Duty Paid


An incoterm from the ICC. Terms of sale also known as ‘free domicile.’


Demise Charter


A contract whereby the shipowner leases his vessel to the charterer for a period of time during which the whole use and management of the vessel passes to the charterer, which involves that the charterer is to pay all expenses for the operation and maintenance of the vessel. Officers and crew will become servants of the charterer. A demise charter whereby the charterer has the right to place his own master and crew on board of the vessel is also called ‘bareboat charter.’




Domestic: A penalty charge against shippers or consignees for delaying the carrier’s equipment beyond the allowed free time provision of the tariff at the rail ramp; International Transportation: A storage charge to shippers, which starts accruing after a container is discharged from a vessel. The charge varies according to rules of the appropriate tariff. See also: Detention, Per Diem and Storage.




The weight of freight per cubic foot or other unit.


Department of Transportation


US Government abbreviation.




The place designated by the carrier where empty containers are kept in stock and received from or delivered to the container operators or merchants.


Depot, Container


The container freight station or a designated area where empty containers can be picked up or dropped off.




A lifting device composed of one mast or pole and a boom or jib which is hinged freely at the bottom.




The area where the carrier physically turns over cargo to the consignee or agent.


Destination Control Statement


Any of the various statements that the U.S. government requires to be displayed on export shipments that specify the destination for which export of the shipment has been authorised.


Destination Delivery Charge


A charge, based on container size, that is applied in many tariffs to cargo. This charge is considered accessorial and is added to the base ocean freight. It covers crane lifts off the vessel, drayage of the container within the terminal and gate fees at the terminal exit.


Destination Delivery Charge (DDC)


A charge based on container size that is applied in many tariffs to cargo. This charge is considered accessorial and is added to the base ocean freight. It covers crane lifts off the vessel, drayage of the container within the terminal and gate fees at the terminal operation.


Det Norske Veritas


Stiftelsen Det Norske Veritas or DNV is a classification society organised as a foundation, with the objective of ‘Safeguarding life, property, and the environment’. The organisation’s history dates back to 1864, when the foundation was established in Norway to inspect and evaluate the technical condition of Norwegian merchant vessels. DNV describes itself as a provider of services for managing risk. Together with Lloyd’s Register and American Bureau of Shipping, DNV is one of the three major companies in the classification society business. DNV has its headquarters in H�vik, B�rum, just outside Oslo, Norway. It has 300 offices in 100 countries, with 8,400 employees. Important industries where the company operates include ship transport, energy, aviation, automotive, finance, food, health care and information technology. It also conducts research in several fields where it operates.




A penalty charge against shippers or receivers for delaying the carrier’s equipment outside the port, terminal or depot beyond the allowed Free Time. For more information see: Demurrage, Per Diem and Storage.




The removal of freight; the unloading (unpacking, ‘stripping’) of a container.


Devil Seam


The devil was possibly a slang term for the garboard seam; hence ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’ being an allusion to keel hauling. However, a more popular version seems to be the seam between the waterway and the stanchions which would be difficult to get at; requiring a cranked caulking iron, and a restricted swing of the caulking mallet.


Devil to Pay (or Devil to pay, and no pitch hot)


‘Paying’ the Devil is sealing the devil seam. It is a difficult and unpleasant job (with no resources) because of the shape of the seam (up against the stanchions) or if the devil refers to the garboard seam, it must be done with the ship slipped or careened.




An amount added or deducted from base rate to make a rate to or from some other point or via another route.


Direct Interchange


The transfer of leased equipment (container) from one lessee to another without necessarily passing through the lessor’s container depot.


Directional Light


A light illuminating a sector or very narrow angle and intended to mark a direction to be followed.




Sums paid out by a ship’s agent at a port and recovered from the carrier.




1. The unloading of a vehicle, a vessel or an aircraft. 2. The landing of cargo.


Discrepancy Letter of Credit


When documents presented do not conform to the requirements of the Letter of Credit, it is referred to as a ‘discrepancy.’ Banks will evidently not process Ls/C which include discrepancies. They will refer the situation back to the buyer and/or seller and await further instructions.




A ship’s displacement is its mass at any given time, generally expressed in metric tons or long tons. The term is often used to mean the ship’s mass when it is loaded to its maximum capacity. A number of synonymous terms exist for this maximum mass, such as loaded displacement, full load displacement and designated displacement. Displacement is a measurement of mass, and should not be confused with similarly named measurements of volume or capacity such as net tonnage, gross tonnage, or deadweight tonnage. The word displacement refers to the mass of the water that the ship displaces while floating. Another way of thinking about displacement is the amount of water that would spill out of a completely filled container were the ship to be placed into it. A floating ship always displaces an amount of water of the same mass as the ship. The density (mass per unit of volume) of water can vary. For example, the average density of seawater at the surface of the ocean is 1025 kg/m�, fresh water on the other hand has a density of about 1000 kg/m�. Consider a 100-ton ship passing from a saltwater sea into a freshwater river. It always displaces exactly 100 tons of water, but it has to displace a greater volume of fresh water to amount to 100 tons. Therefore it would sit slightly lower in the water in the freshwater river than it would in the saltwater sea.


Displacement Hull


A hull designed to travel through the water, rather than planning over it.




To reduce in rank or rating; demote.




A person or firm performing a service of distribution on pool cars or consolidated shipments at destination.




A change made in the route of a shipment in transit (also, reconsignment).




Carriers’ practice of dividing revenue received through rates where joint hauls are involved. This is usually according to agreed formulas.




For Ships: A cargo handling area parallel to the shoreline; for Land Transportation: A pier or wharf used as a loading or unloading platform at an industrial site or carrier terminal.


Dock Receipt


A document issued by an exporter (or freight forwarder on exporter’s behalf) which includes shipment description, physical details and shipping information. Used by both shipper and carrier to verify shipment particulars, condition, and delivery to carrier. Signed by receiving clerk on behalf of carrier.




Refers to the charge assessed against the vessel for berthing at the facility or for mooring to a vessel so berthed.




A document or label displaying the contents of a consignment or package.


Documents Against Acceptance


Instructions given by a shipper to a bank indicating that documents transferring title to goods should be delivered to the buyer only upon the buyer’s acceptance of the attached draft.


Documents Against Payment (D/P)


An indication on a draft that the documents attached are to be released to the drawee only on payment.


Dog watch


A short watch period, generally half the usual time (e.g. a two hour watch between two four hour ones). Such a watch might be included in order to slowly rotate the system over several days for fairness, or to allow both watches to eat their meals at approximately normal times.


Doing Business As


A legal term for conducting business under a registered name.


Doing Business As (1)


A legal term for conducting business under a registered name.


Doldrums (the)


Also called the ‘equatorial calms’, is a nautical term for the equatorial trough, with special reference to the light and variable nature of the winds.




US phrase: A set of wheels that support the front of a container mounted on a chassis; used when the tractor is disconnected.




A structure consisting of a number of piles driven into the seabed or riverbed in a circular pattern and drawn together with wire rope.


Domestic Carriage


Carriage whereby the place of departure and the place of destination are situated within the same country.




Describes the transportation of a container and its contents or cargo from consignor to consignee; also known as House to House. Not necessarily a through rate.


Double estra strong
(XX Strong)


Double estra strong


Double extra heavy
(XX Heavy)


Double extra heavy


Double-Stack Train


Rail transport of a trainload of containers with two containers, one on top of the other, per carriage.


Double-stack train service


Double-stack train service




A line used to control either a mobile spar, or the shape of a sail.


Draft Bank


U.S.-only (rest of the world: Bill of Exchange): An order issued by a seller against a purchaser; directs payment, usually through an intermediary bank. Typical bank drafts are negotiable instruments and are similar in many ways to checks on checking accounts in a bank.


Draft or Draught (of a vessel)


1. The depth of a ship’s keel below the waterline. The number of feet that the hull of a ship is beneath the surface of the water. 2. An unconditional order in writing, addressed by one party (drawer) to another party (drawee), requiring the drawee to pay at a fixed or determinable future date, a specified sum in lawful currency to the order of a specified person.


Draft, Clean


A draft to which no documents are attached.


Draft, Date


A draft that matures on a fixed date, regardless of the time of acceptance.


Draft, Discounted


A time draft under a letter of credit that has been accepted and purchased by a bank at discount.


Draft, Sight


A draft payable on demand upon presentation.


Draft, Time


A draft that matures at a fixed or determinable time after presentation or acceptance.


Draught (of a vessel)


For more information see ‘Draft or Draught of a vessel’ above.




A partial refund of an import fee.




The individual or firm that issues a draft and thus stands to receive payment.




A truck or other equipment designed to haul heavy loads.




Charge made for local hauling by dray or truck (same as ‘Cartage’).


Dressing Down


Treating old sails with oil or wax to renew them, or a verbal reprimand.




The large sail flown from the mizzen gaff.




The fifth mast of a six-masted barquentine or gaff schooner. It is preceded by the jigger mast and followed by the spanker mast. The sixth mast of the only seven-masted vessel, the gaff schooner Thomas W. Lawson, was normally called the pusher-mast.


Drop off Charge


Charge made by container owner and/or terminal operators for delivery of a leased, or pool container into depot stock. The drop-off charge may be a combination of actual handling and storage charges with surcharges.


Dry Bulk Container


A container constructed to carry grain, powder and other free-flowing solids in bulk. It is ssed in conjunction with a tilt chassis or platform.


Dry Cargo


Cargo that is not liquid and/or does not require temperature control.


Dry Cargo Container


A container which is designed for the carriage of goods other than liquids.


Dry Freight


Dry cargoes that do not need to be stored in controlled temperature environments.


Dry Port


A dry port (sometimes inland port) is an inland intermodal terminal directly connected by road or rail to a seaport and operating as a centre for the transshipment of sea cargo to inland destinations. In addition to their role in cargo transshipment, dry ports may also include facilities for storage and consolidation of goods, maintenance for road or rail cargo carriers and Customs clearance services. The location of these facilities at a dry port relieves competition for storage and Customs space at the seaport itself.




Attempt to import merchandise into a country at a price less than the fair market value, usually by subsidy by the exporting country.




1. Loose packing material used to protect a ship’s cargo from damage during transport. 2. Personal baggage.




A tax imposed by a government on merchandise imported from one country to another. There are several types of duty, including: a) Ad valorem duty (‘According to the value.’): An assessment based on the actual value of an article. b) Specific duty: An assessment based on the weight or quantity of an article without reference to its monetary value or market price.


Duty Drawback


A refund of duty paid on imported merchandise when it is later exported.


Duty Free Zone


An area where goods or cargo can be stored without paying import customs duties awaiting further transport or manufacturing.



Small lines, by which the uppermost corners of the largest sails are secured to the yardarms.


Echo Sounding


Measuring the depth of the water using a sonar device. Also see sounding and swinging the lead.


Edge Protector


An angle piece fitting over the edge of boxes, crates, bundles and other packages to prevent the pressure from metal bands or other types from cutting into the package.


Electronic data interchange


The transfer of structured data, by agreed standards from applications on the computer of one party to the applications on the computer of another party by electronic means.


Electronic data interchange (1)


The exchange of structured information over the Internet using XML as the syntax.


Electronic data processing


The computerised handling of information (e.g. business data).




A charge for services performed in connection with floating elevators.


Elkins Act


An act of U.S. Congress (1903) prohibiting rebates, concession, mis-billing, etc. and providing specific penalties for such violations.




The condition where a sailing vessel is confined between two capes or headlands by a wind blowing directly onshore.


Empty (container)


Empty (container)


Empty Leg


The portion of a transport route when a vessel or a container is empty.


Empty Repositioning


The movement of empty containers from depots of low demand (or low revenue) to depots of high demand at the cost of the carrier.


Empty Slot


An available loading position on a stack car created when a container is not loaded to an available position. Also known as a vacant slot.


Engine Order Telegraph


An engine order telegraph or E.O.T., often also known as a chadburn, is a communications device used on a ship or submarine for the pilot on the bridge to order engineers in the engine room to power the vessel at a certain desired speed.

In early vessels



1. Flag declaring a ship’s country of registry.

2. Commissioned officer, lowest rank.




A Customs document required to clear an import shipment for entry into the general commerce of a country.


Entry summary declaration


An ENS is an electronic declaration of goods being carried into the customs territory of the community.




A monetary allowance to the customer for picking up or delivering at a point other than the destination shown on the bill of lading. This provision is covered by tariff publication.




Material resources necessary to facilitate the transport and handling of cargo. Transport equipment does, under the given circumstances, not have the ability to move by its own propulsion (e.g. sea container, trailer, unit load device, pallet).


Equipment Damage Report


A written statement concerning damage to equipment, based on a physical inspection.


Equipment Interchange Receipt


A document transferring the responsibility of a container from one party to another; to be signed off by both parties. A new document is necessary at each stop where there is such a transfer of responsibility.


Estimated time of arrival


Liner schedules publish ETD and ETA since they cannot be held responsible for lateness due to bad weather conditions.


Estimated time of availability


That time when a tractor/partner carrier is available for dispatch.


Estimated time of departure


The expected date and time when a certain port is left.


Estimeated time of completion, departure, readiness, or sailing
(ETC, D, R, S)


Estimeated time of completion, departure, readiness, or sailing




A gas produced by many fruits and vegetables that accelerates the ripening and aging process.


Euro €


European Currency Unit (old E.C.U.). Its value, revised every five years, is determined according to the economic size of each EU member (ex Common Market) and using the exchange rate of each member currency.




U.S. dollars on deposit outside of the United States to include dollars on deposit at foreign branches of U.S. banks, and dollars on deposit with foreign banks.




Signifies that the quoted price applies only at the indicated point of origin (e.g. “price ex factory” means that the quoted price is for the goods available at the factory gate of the seller).


Ex Dec


USA-only: Shipper’s Export Declaration.


Except as otherwise noted


Except as otherwise noted




Notations made when the cargo is received at the carrier’s terminal or loaded aboard a vessel. They show any irregularities in packaging or actual or suspected damage to the cargo. Exceptions are then noted on the bill of lading.


Exchange Rate


The price of one currency in terms of another; i.e., the number of units of one currency that may be exchanged for one unit of another currency.




The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is the official export credit agency of the United States federal government. It was established in 1934 by an executive order, and made an independent agency in the Executive branch by Congress in 1945, for the purposes of financing and insuring foreign purchases of United States goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk.




The shipment of goods outside one’s own country to a foreign country.


Export License


A government document which permits the “License” to engage in the export of designated goods to certain destinations.


Export Rate


A rate published on traffic moving from an interior point to a port for transhipment to a foreign country.




The seller of the goods being transported.


Export-Management Company


A private firm that serves as the export department for several manufacturers, soliciting and transacting export business on behalf of its clients in return for a commission, salary, or retainer plus commission.




A premium-rated service for urgent deliveries.


Extensible mark-up language


Extensible mark-up language is an official recommendation by the World Wide Web Consortium as a successor of HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up language). It can be used to convey documents layout and contents from one computer application to another. XML is a subset of SGML.


Extra heavy
(X Heavy)


Extra heavy


Extra strong
(X Strong)


Extra strong




(Also known as in extremis). The point under International Rules of the Road (Navigation Rules) at which the privileged (or stand-on) vessel on collision course with a burdened (or give-way) vessel determines it must manoeuvre to avoid a collision. Prior to extremis

(EX. W.)


An incoterm from the ICC. Abbreviation for Ex- works, meaning the seller delivers to the buyer at the seller’s named premises.


Ex-Works (1)


Incoterm of sale meaning the seller delivers to the buyer at the seller’s named premises (the “works”).

F.O.B. Destination


Free On Board where freight and all accessorial charges (such as insurance) is arranged and paid for by the seller until the point of destination. A term of sale between seller and buyer.


F.O.B. Factory


Title of goods and transportation responsibility transfers from seller to buyer at the factory loading docks.


F.O.B. Freight Allowed


An incoterm from the ICC: the same as F.O.B. named inland carrier, except the buyer, pays the transportation charge and the seller reduces the invoice by a like amount.




1. A smooth curve, usually referring to a line of the hull which has no deviations.

2. To make something flush.

3. A rope is fair when it has a clear run.

4. A wind or current is fair when it offers an advantage to a boat.




A navigable channel for vessels, often the regular or prescribed track a vessel will follow in order to avoid dangerous circumstances (e.g. port access via a river’s estuary).




Fastened or held firmly (fast aground: stuck on the seabed; made fast: tied securely).




A unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.8 m), roughly measured as the distance between a man’s outstretched hands. This is particularly used to measure depth.


Federal Marine Commission


Federal Marine Commission


Federal Maritime Commission


The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent federal agency, based in Washington D.C., responsible for the regulation of ocean borne transportation in the foreign commerce of the U.S.A.

Regulates certain activities of international shipping lines (called “ocean common carriers”)



A service which incorporates a small vessel to transport containers to and from the “mother” ship. The mother ships carry the high volume cargo to high volume ports; the feeder vessels carry the small volume cargo to small volume local ports. See also Feeder Vessel.


Feeder Service


A vessel which transfers containers to a “mother ship” for an ocean voyage.


Feeder Vessel


A short-sea vessel which transfers cargo between a central “hub” port and smaller “spoke” ports.




An air or foam filled bumper used in boating to keep boats from banging into docks or each other.




A ship carrying passengers and/or vehicles engaged in regular short voyages, e.g. across a river or narrow body of water, between two or more places or ports.




The distance across water which a wind or waves have travelled.

To reach a mark without tacking.




A tapered wooden tool used for separating the strands of rope for splicing.

A bar used to fix an upper mast in place.


Fifth Wheel


The semi-circular steel coupling device mounted on a tractor which engages and locks with a chassis semi-trailer.




The symbolic image at the head of a traditional sailing ship or early steamer.


Final Destination


A consignee’s facility where shipment ends its movement.


Fire ship


A ship loaded with flammable materials and explosives which sailed into an enemy port or fleet either already burning or ready to be set alight by its crew (who would then abandon it) in order to collide with and set fire to enemy ships.




A capacity measurement equal to one-quarter of a barrel.


First Carrier


The carrier that actually performs the first part of the transport.


First Lieutenant


In the Royal Navy, the senior lieutenant on board; responsible to the Commander for the domestic affairs of the ship’s company. Also known as ‘Jimmy the One’ or ‘Number One’. The First Lieutenant removes his cap when visiting the mess decks as a token of respect for the privacy of the crew in those quarters. Officer i/c cables on the forecastle. In the U.S. Navy, the First Lieutenant is the senior person in charge of all deck hands.


First Mate


The Second in command of a ship.




The classification for the largest sailing warships of the 17th-19th centuries. First-rate ships had three masts, 850+ crew and 100+ guns.




To repair a mast or spar with a fillet of wood.

To secure an anchor on the side of the ship for sea (otherwise known as “catting”.)


Fixed Costs


These are costs that vary with the level of activity. Some fixed costs continue even if no cargo is carried. Terminal leases, rent and property taxes are examples of fixed costs.


Fixed Propeller


A propeller mounted on a rigid shaft protruding from the hull of a vessel, usually driven by an inboard motor; steering achieved using a rudder. For more information see outboard motor and sterndrive.




An indication of the country in which a means of transport is registered through a reference to the ensign of this country.


Flag hoist


A group of signal flags strung together to convey a message, e.g. England expects….


Flag of Convenience


A ship is said to be flying a flag of convenience if it is registered in a foreign country “for purposes of reducing operating costs or avoiding government regulations”. The term has been used since the 1950s and refers to the flag a ship flies to indicate its country of registration. The country of registration determines the laws under which the ship is required to operate and that are to be applied in relevant admiralty cases.

Antigua and Barbuda International Shipping Register

Bahamas Maritime Authority

Barbados Maritime Ship Registry

International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize

Bermuda Department of Maritime Administration

Bolivia International Ship

Registry of Cambodia

Cayman Islands Shipping Registry

Maritime Administration of the Union of Comoros

Republic of Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping

Equatorial Guinea

French International Ship Register

German International Ship Register


Gibraltar Registry of Shipping


Jamaica Ship Registry


Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry

Malta Maritime Authority

International Registries

Flag of Convenience Register


A national register offering registration to a merchant ship not owned in the flag state. The major flags of convenience (FOC) attract ships to their register by virtue of low fees, low or nonexistent taxation of profits, and liberal manning requirements.

True FOC registers are characterised by having relatively few of the ships registered actually owned in the flag state. Thus, while virtually any flag can be used for ships under a given set of circumstances, an FOC register is one where the majority of the merchant fleet is owned abroad.

It is also referred to as an open register.


Flag State


The nation in which a ship is registered and which holds legal jurisdiction over operation of the ship, whether at home or abroad. Flag state maritime legislation determines how a ship is manned and taxed and whether a foreign-owned ship may be placed on the register.


Flammable Liquids


Hazardous cargo. Flammable liquids are those that give off vapours which become spontaneously combustible at certain temperatures (flash point); these are often referred to as “inflammable” but “flammable” is preferred.




The maximum speed of a ship – faster than “full speed”.




A curvature of the topsides outward towards the gunwale.

A pyrotechnic signalling device; usually used to indicate distress.


Flash Point


The minimum temperature at which a substance gives off flammable vapours which will ignite when they come in contact with spark or flame.


Flat Car


A rail car without a roof and walls.


Flat Rack


A container without sides and frame members at the front and rear. The container can be loaded from the sides and top.




A Great Lakes slang term for a vessel without self-unloading equipment.




A trailer with a level bed and no sides or top.




A group of vehicles travelling together, engaged in the same activity or under the same ownership.


Floating Crane


A crane mounted on a barge or pontoon, which can be towed or is self-propelled.


Floating Dock


A floating structure which can be partially submerged to enable vessels to enter or leave and which can be raised for use as a dry dock.




Debris or cargo that remains afloat after a shipwreck. See also jetsam.




The wedge-shaped part of an anchor’s arms that digs into the sea-bed.


Fly by night


A large sail used only for sailing downwind, requiring little attention.


Folding propeller


A propeller with folding blades, furling to reduce drag on a sailing vessel when not in use.


Following sea


Wave or tidal movement going in the same direction as a ship




The lower edge of any sail.

The bottom of a mast.

A measurement of 12 inches.




If the foot of a sail is not secured properly, it is footloose; blowing around in the wind.




A slang term for the amount of tyre tread on the ground.




Each yard on a square rigged sailing ship is equipped with a footrope for sailors to stand on while setting or stowing the sails.


For more information see Malpractice.Reciprocity


A practice by which governments extend similar concessions to one another.




For more information see Beaufort scale.


Force Majeure


The title of a common clause in contracts, exempting parties for unfulfilment of obligations as the result of conditions beyond their control such as earthquakes, floods or war.


Fore and Aft


The direction on a vessel parallel to the center line.

For more information see Port Side for a diagram of all the ship’s directions.




The lower part of the stem of a ship.


Foreign Trade Zone


Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) (or free zones, free ports, or bonded warehouses) are special commercial and industrial areas in or near ports of entry where foreign and domestic merchandise, including raw materials, components and finished goods, may be brought in without being subject to payment of customs duties.

Merchandise brought into these zones may be stored, sold, exhibited, repacked, assembled, sorted, graded, cleaned or otherwise manipulated prior to re-export or entry into the national customs territory.


Foreign Trade Zone Entry


A form declaring goods which are brought duty free into a Foreign Trade Zone for further processing or storage and subsequent exportation.


Foremast Jack


An enlisted sailor; one who is housed before the foremast.




Long lines or cables, reaching from the front of the vessel to the mast heads, used to support the mast.


Fork Pockets


Openings or recesses in the side of a freight container designed to facilitate the entry of the forks of a fork lift truck.


Forklift (also fork lift / fork lift truck)


Freight/materials-handling vehicles used for loading / mooring / unloading packaged freight.


Forty Foot Equivalent Unit


Term commonly used to describe a standard 40′ freight container.


Forty-Foot Equivalent Units


Refers to a container size standard of 40 feet. Two 20-foot containers or TEUs equal one FEU.

Established by analogy with a TEU, but very rarely used; some commercial contracts include pricing rates on FEUs and if the client chooses to use a 20′, then the FEU rate is divided by two.




For more information see Freight Forwarder.


Forwarding Charge


The charges paid or to be paid for preliminary surface or air transport to the airport of departure by a forwarder, but not by a carrier under an Air Waybill (air cargo).


Forwarding Instruction


The document issued to a freight forwarder, giving instructions to the forwarder for the forwarding of goods described therein.




The opposite of clear. For instance, a rope is foul when it does not run straight or smoothly, and an anchor is foul when it is caught on an obstruction.

A breach of racing rules.


Foul Bill of Lading


A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that the goods were damaged when received.




To fill with water and sink.


Four-Way Pallet


A pallet designed so that the forks of a fork lift truck can be inserted from all four sides.




A transverse structural member that provides a ship’s hull with strength and shape. Wooden frames may be sawn, bent or laminated into shape. Planking is then fastened to the frames. A bent frame is called a timber.


Franc Poincaré


The unit of value in which the limitation of the carrier’s liability is sometimes expressed.

One Franc Poincaré consists of 65.5 milligram of gold with a fineness / purity of nine hundred parts out of a thousand.

Raymond Poincaré (20 August 1860 – 15 October 1934) was a French conservative statesman who served as Prime Minister of France on five separate occasions and as President of France from 1913 to 1920.


Free Alongside


An incoterm from the ICC: the seller must deliver the goods to a pier and place them within reach of the ship’s loading equipment. The buyer arranges ship space and informs the seller when and where the goods are to be placed.


Free alongside ship


The seller must deliver the goods to a pier and place them within reach of the ship’s loading equipment. The buyer arranges ship space and informs the seller when and where the goods are to be placed.


Free Astray


A lost shipment that is subsequently found and sent to its proper destination without additional charge.


Free discharge


Free discharge


Free in and out


The cost of loading and unloading a vessel (THC) is borne by the cargo.


Free In and Out (1)


A transport condition denoting that the freight rate excludes the costs of loading and discharging and, if appropriate, stowage and lashing.


Free In Liner Out


A transport condition denoting that the freight rate is inclusive of the sea carriage and the cost of discharging, the latter as per the custom of the port. It excludes the cost of loading and, if appropriate, stowage and lashing.


Free into barge


Free into barge


Free of capture and seizure


Free of capture and seizure


Free of Capture and Seizure (1)


An insurance clause providing that loss is not insured if due to capture, seizure, confiscation and like actions, whether legal or not, or from such acts as piracy, civil war, rebellion and civil strife.


Free of capture, seizure, riots and civil commotions


Free of capture, seizure, riots and civil commotions


Free of damage


Free of damage


Free of partial average


Free of partial average


Free of Particular Average


A marine insurance term meaning that the insurer will not allow payment for partial loss or damage to cargo shipments except in certain circumstances; such as stranding, sinking, collision or fire.


Free On Board (1)


An International Term of Sale than means the seller fulfils an obligation to deliver when the goods have passed over the ship’s rail at the named port of shipment. This means that the buyer has to bear all costs and risks to loss of, or damage to, the goods from that point. The FOB term requires the seller to clear the goods for export.


Free on board


Needs to be accompanied by a specified location (see examples below). The seller is responsible for inland freight and all other costs until the cargo has been loaded on the vessel/truck/railcar/barge. The buyer is responsible for ocean freight and marine insurance.


Free Out (1)


The cost of unloading a vessel that is borne by the charterer.


Free out


At a Free Out port, the cost of unloading a vessel is borne by the charterer.


Free Port


An international port or an area within an international port at which, crew, passengers, baggage, cargo, mail and stores may be disembarked or unloaded, may remain and may be transhipped, without being subjected to any customs charges or duties. Examination remains possible, however, for instance to meet security or narcotics control requirements. For more information see Foreign Trade Zone.


Free Pratique


Pratique is the license given to a ship to enter port on assurance from the captain to convince the authorities that he/she is free from contagious disease.

The clearance granted is commonly referred to as Free Pratique. A ship can signal a request for “Pratique” by flying a solid yellow square-shaped flag. This yellow flag is the Q flag in the set of International maritime signal flags.


Free Time


At pick-up or delivery, the time allowed for shippers or receivers to load or unload containers before waiting time charges accrue (usually two hours).

The amount of time that a carrier’s equipment may be used without incurring additional charges (e.g. for imports, the Free Time is the time – usually three working days – allowed idle at the terminal before incurring demurrage).


Free Trade Zone


A part of the territory of a state (a seaport or an inland place) where any goods introduced are generally regarded, in so far as import duties and taxes are concerned, as being exempted (Kyoto Convention). Duties are imposed on the merchandise (or items manufactured from the merchandise) only if and when the goods pass from the zone into an area of the country subject to the Customs Authority.




The height of a ship’s hull (excluding superstructure) above the waterline. The vertical distance from the current waterline to the lowest point on the highest continuous watertight deck. This usually varies from one part to another. For more information see Beam for a Ship Measurements graphic

The distance measured vertically from the freeboard deck accepted and indicated by the class bureau to the waterline under specified conditions.




Refers to either the cargo carried or the charges assessed for carriage of the cargo.


Freight Bill


A document issued by the carrier based on the bill of lading and other information, used to account for a shipment operationally, statistically and financially.


Freight Claim


Demand upon a carrier for the payment of overcharge or loss or damage sustained by a shipper or consignee.


Freight Container


For more information see Container.


Freight Costs


The costs incurred by the merchant in moving goods, by whatever means, from one place to another under the terms of the contract of carriage. In addition to transport costs this may include such elements as packing, documentation, loading, unloading and transport insurance.


Freight Forwarder (also Forwarder)


The party arranging the carriage of goods including connected services and/or associated formalities on behalf of a shipper or consignee

Freight forwarders typically arrange the carriage of cargo to an international destination – including connected services and/or any associated trade formalities. They are also referred to as international freight forwarders; they have the expertise that allows them to prepare and process the documentation and perform related activities pertaining to international shipments.


Freight Invoice


An itemised list of goods shipped and services rendered stating fees and charges.


Freight loaded into a ship. Cargo Manifest


A manifest that lists only cargo, not charges.


Full and By


Sailing into the wind (by), but not as close-hauled as might be possible, to make sure the sails are kept full. This provides a margin for error to avoid being taken aback (a serious risk for square-rigged vessels) in a tricky sea. Figuratively speaking it implies getting on with the job but in a steady, relaxed way, without undue urgency or strain.


Full Container Load


A container stuffed or stripped under risk and for account of the shipper and/or the consignee.

A general reference for identifying container loads of cargo loaded and/or discharged at merchants’ premises.


Full ocntainer load


The shipper is responsible for the loading and stripping of the cargo inside the container. The carrier transports a sealed container.


Full Truck Load


An indication for a truck transporting cargo directly from supplier to receiver.


Fully Cellular Containership


A vessel specially designed to carry containers, with cell-guides under deck and necessary fittings and equipment on deck.




To roll or gather a sail against its mast or spar.




Pieces of timber that make up a large transverse frame.



The spar that holds the upper edge of a four-sided fore-and-aft mounted sail.

A hook on a long pole to haul fish in.


Gaff rigged


A boat rigged with a four-sided fore-and-aft sail with its upper edge supported by a spar or gaff which extends aft from the mast.




The kitchen of the ship.




A meeting of two (or more) whaling ships at sea. The ships each send out a boat to the other, and the two captains meet on one ship, while the two chief mates meet on the other.


Gammon Iron


The bow fitting which clamps the bowsprit to the stem.




A group of stevedores usually four to five members acting together with a supervisor assigned to a hold or portion of the vessel being loaded or unloaded.




A movable bridge used in boarding or leaving a ship at a pier; also known as a “brow”.




An opening in the bulwark of the ship allowing passengers to board or leave the ship.




The (illegal) practice of mixing cargo with garbage.




The strake closest to the keel (from the Dutch term ‘gaarboard’).


Garboard planks


The planks immediately either side of the keel.




A point at which freight moving from one territory to another is interchanged between transportation lines.


General agreement on tariffs and trade


A multilateral treaty to help reduce trade barriers between the signatory countries and to promote trade through tariff concessions. The World Trade Organization (WTO) superseded GATT in 1994.


General Average


Marine Insurance term; Average in maritime commerce to signify damages or expenses resulting from the accidents of navigation. Average is either general or particular.

The term average originally meant what is now distinguished as general average; and the expression particular average

General Cargo


Cargo, consisting of goods, unpacked or packed, for example in cartons, crates, bags or bales, often palletised. General cargo can be shipped either in breakbulk or containerised.

Any consignment other than a consignment containing valuable cargo and charged for transport at general cargo rates (air cargo).


General Cargo Rate


The rate for the carriage of cargo other than a class rate or specific commodity rate.


General destination License


Term from U.S.A: General Destination License, used on export declarations for unrestricted commodities (the majority of all items exported).


General Export License


Any of the various export licenses covering export commodities for which validated export licenses are not required. No formal application or written authorisation is needed to ship exports under a general export license.


General License Baggage


Term from U.S.A: General License Baggage, used on export declarations for personal effects. No prior written authorisation is required and no individual license is issued.


General Order


The process by which U.S. Customs assumes custody and takes possession of freight not having customs-cleared by the consignee after expiration of Free Time.


General Purpose Container


A container used for the carriage of general cargo without any special requirements for the transport and or the conditioning of the goods (a Standard container).


General Rate Increase


It is used to describe an across-the-board tariff rate increase implemented by conference members and applied to base rates (this definition is still valid in areas where conferences are still legal).

It is also commonly used to describe the ocean freight rate increase settled independently by each carrier.


Generator Set
(Gen set)


While a reefer will have an integral refrigeration unit, they rely on external power, from electrical power points at a land-based site, a container ship or on quay. Whilst being transported by road on a trailer they can be powered by portable diesel-powered generators (‘gen sets’) which attach to the container whilst on road journeys.


Geneva Conventions 1958


The Geneva Conventions on the High Seas, on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, on the Continental Shelf and on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas, adopted at Geneva on April 29, 1958.


Genoa or genny


A large jib (sail), strongly overlapping the mainmast.


Germanischer Lloyd


The Germanischer Lloyd AG is a classification society based in the city of Hamburg, Germany created on 16th March 1867. A group of 600 shipowners, shipbuilders and insurers met in the big hall of the Hamburg Stock Exchange. As a technical supervisory organization Germanischer Lloyd regularly conducts safety surveys on more than 7,000 ships with over 79,000,000 gross tonnes (GT). Its technical and engineering services also include the mitigation of risks and assurance of legal compliance for oil, gas and industrial installations as well as wind energy plants. The society also certifies the operating performance of companies and performs damage investigations as well as destructive and non-destructive tests of materials.




To sail slowly when there is apparently no wind.


Global Maritime Distress Safety System


An internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, types of equipment, and communication protocols used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed ships, boats and aircraft (replaced the Morse Code). GMDSS consists of several systems, some of which are new, but many of which have been in operation for many years. The system is intended to perform the following functions: alerting (including position determination of the unit in distress), search and rescue coordination, locating (homing), maritime safety information broadcasts, general communications, and bridge-to-bridge communications. Specific radio carriage requirements depend upon the ship’s area of operation, rather than its tonnage. The system also provides redundant means of distress alerting, and emergency sources of power.


Global Positioning System


A satellite-based radio navigation system providing continuous worldwide coverage. It supplies navigation, position, and timing information to air, marine,and land users.




In the Far East, a warehouse where goods are stored and delivered.


Going about or tacking


Changing from one tack to another by going through the wind (see also gybe). When the ship is ready to go about the helmsman or skipper calls “Ready about”



A common term indicating movable property, merchandise or wares.

All materials which can be used to satisfy demands.

The whole or part of the cargo received from the shipper, including any equipment supplied by the shipper.




U.S.A. : A fitting that attaches the boom to the mast, allowing it to move freely.

The front rails of the chassis raise above its plane and engage in the tunnel of a container.




A 19th century term regarding a fore-and-aft rigged vessel which has the foresail and mainsail set on opposite sides of the vessel. For instance, with the mainsail to port and the jib to starboard, maximising the amount of canvas exposed to the wind. For more information see running.




Small balls of lead fired from a cannon, similar to shotgun shot on a larger scale. Used to hurt people, rather than cause structural damage.




To clean a ship’s bottom.


Grid Number


An indication of the position of a container in a bay plan by means of a combination of page number, column and line. The page number often represents the bay number.




Watered-down pusser’s rum consisting of half a gill with equal part of water, issued to all seamen over twenty. (CPOs and POs were issued with neat rum).

From the British Admiral Vernon who



Feeling drunk from having consumed a lot of ‘grog’.


Gross behicle weight


The combined total weight of a vehicle and its container, inclusive of prime mover.


Gross Registered Tons


A common measurement of the internal volume of a ship with certain spaces excluded. One ton equals 100 cubic feet; the total of all the enclosed spaces within a ship expressed in tons each of which is equivalent to 100 cubic feet.


Gross Ton


A common measurement equivalent to 2,240 pounds.


Gross Tonnage


Gross Tonnage, along with Net Tonnage, was defined by The International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969, adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 1969, and came into force on July 18, 1982.

These two measurements replaced Gross Register Tonnage (GRT) and Net Register Tonnage (NRT).

Gross Tonnage is calculated based on “the moulded volume of all enclosed spaces of the ship” and is used to determine things such as a ship’s manning regulations

Gross Weight (1)


The entire weight of goods, packaging and freight car or container, ready for shipment.


Gross weight
(Gr. Wt. / G.W)


Gross weight




The bed of the sea.




Charge for the permission to anchor.




1. When a ship (while afloat) touches the bed of the sea



A consolidation service, putting small shipments into containers for transport.


Gunner’s daughter


For more information see ‘kissing the gunner’s daughter’.




The upper edge of the hull.


Gybe or jibe


To change from one tack to the other away from the wind

Hague Protocol


An amendment of the Warsaw convention at The Hague, September 28, 1955 (regarding air cargo).


Hague Rules, The


A multilateral maritime treaty drafted in 1924 at The Hague

Hague-Visby Rules


The Hague-Visby Rules are a set of international rules for the carriage of goods by sea.

The official title is “International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading” and was drafted in Brussels in 1924. After being amended by the Visby Amendments (officially the “Protocol to Amend the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of Lading”) in 1968

Half-Height Container


An open top container

Halyard or halliard


Originally, ropes used for hoisting a spar with a sail attached; today, a line is used to raise the head of any sail.


Hamburg Rules


The Hamburg Rules are a set of rules governing the international shipment of goods, resulting from the United Nations International Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea – adopted in Hamburg in 1978 and in force as of November 1, 1992 in those countries which have ratified it.




Canvas sheets

Hand bomber


A ship using coal-fired boilers shoveled in by hand.


Hand over fist


To climb steadily upwards



With a slow even motion

Handy billy


This is a loose block and tackle with a hook or tail on each end, which can be used wherever it is needed as an emergency portable pump. It is usually made up of one single and one double block.




A fastener attached to the luff of the headsail that attaches the headsail to the forestay. Typical designs include a bronze or plastic hook with a spring-operated gate, or a strip of cloth webbing with a snap fastener.


Harbor Master / Harbour Master


An officer who attends to the berthing, etc. of ships in a harbour and related duties.




A harbour, or haven, is a place where ships may shelter from the weather or are stored. Harbours can be man-made or natural. A harbour can include many ports.




A section of an otherwise muddy shoreline, suitable for mooring or hauling out.


Harden Up


Turn towards the wind; sail closer to the wind.




A hard and long-lasting dry biscuit, used as food on long journeys. This was also called ship’s biscuit or sea biscuit.


Hard-Top Container


A closed container fitted with a roof that can be opened or lifted off.


Harmonized System of Codes


This is an international goods classification system for describing cargo in international trade under a single commodity coding scheme.

Developed under the auspices of the Customs Cooperations Council (CCC), an international Customs organisation in Brussels, this code is a hierarchically structured product nomenclature containing approximately 5,000 headings and subheadings. It is organised into 99 chapters and arranged into 22 sections.

Sections encompass an industry; chapters encompass the various materials and products of the industry.

The basic code contains 44 headings and 6 digit subheadings.

Many countries add digits for Customs tariff and statistical purposes.




The cover of – or opening- in the deck of a vessel, through which cargo is loaded.


Hatch Cover


A watertight means of closing the hatchway of a vessel.


Hatchway, hatch


A covered opening in a ship’s deck through which cargo can be moved or access made to a lower deck; the cover to the opening is called a hatch.


Haul wind


To point the ship towards the direction of the wind; generally not the fastest point of travel on a sailing vessel.




The inland carriage of cargo or containers between named locations/points.

1. Merchant inspired Carrier Haulage or customer nominated Carrier Haulage or shipper preferred Carrier Haulage service is performed by a sub-contractor of the merchant.

2. Carrier inspired Merchant Haulage means the Haulage service is performed by a sub- contractor of the Carrier.




A hole in a ship’s bow for a cable or chain, such as for an anchor, to pass through.




An informal maritime industry term used to refer to a merchant ship’s officer who began his or her career as an unlicensed merchant seaman and did not attend a traditional maritime college/academy to earn their officer license.


Hazardous Material


U.S.A.: Material designated as hazardous under the American 49CFR (Code of Federal Regulations).

The International Maritime Organization prefers to use “Dangerous Goods”.




The toilet or latrine of a vessel which, for sailing ships, is projected from the bows.


Head of navigation


A term used to describe the farthest point above the mouth of a river that can be navigated by ships.




Any sail flown in front of the most forward mast.


Heated Container


A thermal container served by a heat producing appliance.




A vessel’s transient, vertical, up-and-down motion.


Heave down


The action of turning a ship on its side (for cleaning).


Heaving to


Stopping a sailing vessel by lashing the helm in opposition to the sails. The vessel will gradually drift to leeward, the speed of the drift will depend on the vessel’s design.


Heavy fuel oil


Heavy Fuel Oil is a fraction obtained from petroleum distillation, either as a distillate or a residue. The term fuel oil is used to refer only to the heaviest commercial fuel that can be obtained from crude oil; heavier than gasoline and naphtha. Marine diesel oil contains some heavy fuel oil, unlike regular diesels. Also, marine fuel oils sometimes contain waste products such as used motor oil.


Heavy Lift


An additional amount charged by ocean shippers to offset the extra cost of the heavy duty equipment required to handle the cargo.


Heavy Lift Vessel


An item specifically designed to be self-sustaining with heavy lift cranes, to handle unusually heavy and/or out-sized cargoes.


Heavy-Lift Charge


A charge made for lifting articles that are too heavy for a ship’s tackle.




Heeling is the lean caused by the wind’s force on the sails of a sailing vessel.




A person who steers a ship.


High Cube


Any container which exceeds 8 feet 6 inches (102 inches) in height.

Commonly, high cubes are 9 feet 6 inches high, or 12 inches more than a standard container.


Highfield Lever


A particular type of tensioning lever, usually for running backstays. Their use allows the leeward backstay to be completely slackened so that the boom can be let fully out.




A knot used to tie a rope or line to a fixed object.




The marrying of two or more portions of one shipment that originate at different locations, moving under one Bill of Lading, from one shipper to one consignee. Authority for this service must be granted by tariff publication.




1. A fore-and-aft structural member of the hull fitted over the keel to provide a fixing for the garboard planks.

2. A rough flat scrubbing brush for cleaning a ship’s bottom under water.




When the peak of a wave is amidships, causing the hull to bend so the ends of the keel are lower than the middle. This is the opposite of sagging.




In its earlier use, below the orlop deck, the lower part of the interior of a ship’s hull, especially when considered as storage space, as for cargo. In later merchant vessels it extended up through the decks to the underside of the weather deck.




A gap in the coverage of newly applied paint, slush, tar or other preservative.




A chunk of sandstone that was used to scrub the decks. The name comes from both the kneeling position sailors adopt to scrub the deck (reminiscent of genuflection for prayer), and the stone itself (which resembled a Bible in shape and size).


Home Port


The port of registration of a vessel.


House B/L


A Bill of Lading issued by a freight consolidator to his client. The (real) Master B/L is the one issued by the carrier to the forwarder.


House To House Transport


The transport of cargo from the premises of the consignor to the premises of the consignee.

Note: In the United States the term ‘Point to Point Transport’ is used instead of the term ‘Door to Door Transport’, because the term ‘house’ may mean ‘customs house’ or ‘brokers house’, which are usually located in the port.




A central location to which traffic from many cities is directed and from which traffic is fed to other areas.


Hundred weight


(US:100 lb.; UK: 112 lbs.)




A short ton hundredweight = 100 pounds. Long ton hundredweight = 112 pounds.




A term used by steamship lines, agents, or port captains who are appointed to handle all matters in assisting the master of the vessel – while in port – to obtain such services as bunkering, fresh water, food and supplies, payroll for the crew, doctors’ appointments and ship repair.


Hyundai heavy industries Co Ltd.


They are the world’s largest shipbuilding company, headquartered in Ulsan, South Korea. The company is a subsidiary of Hyundai Heavy Industries Group.


Hyundai Merchant Marine


A South Korean logistics company providing worldwide container shipping services. It was established in 1976 as Asia Merchant Marine. It became Hyundai Merchant Marine, as part of the Hyundai Group, in 1982.



A serious hazard where cold temperatures (below about -10°C), combined with high wind speed (typically force eight or above on the Beaufort scale), result in spray blown off the sea freezing immediately on contact with the ship.


Idle Time


The amount of ineffective time whereby the available resources are not used e.g. a container in a yard.




This describes members of a ship’s company who are not required to serve watches. These were, in general, specialist tradesmen such as the carpenter and the sailmaker.


Immediate exit


The U.S.A. Customs IE Customs form is used when goods are brought into the USA and are to be immediately re-exported without being transported within the USA.


Immediate transport
(IT entry)


Allows foreign merchandise arriving at one port to be transported in bond to another port, where a superseding entry is filed. (US customs)




To receive goods from a foreign country.




The buyer of the goods being transported.


In Bond


A term applied to the status of merchandise admitted provisionally to a country without payment of duties, either for storage in a bonded warehouse or for transhipment to another point, where duties eventually will be paid.


In Gate


The transaction or interchange that occurs at the time a container is received by a rail terminal or water port from another carrier.


In Irons


When the bow of a sailboat is headed into the wind and the boat has stalled and is unable to manoeuvre.


In the offing


In the water, visible from on board a ship, now used to mean something imminent.


In Transit


The status of goods or persons between the outwards Customs clearance and inwards Customs clearance.




Towards the middle axis of the ship.


Inboard motor


An engine mounted within the hull of a vessel, usually driving a fixed propeller by a shaft protruding through the stern. This is generally used on larger vessels.


Inboard-Outboard drive system


For more information see stern drive.




Import (Outbound = Export).


Incentive Rate


A lower-than usual tariff rate assessed because a shipper offers a greater volume than specified in the tariff. The incentive rate is assessed for that portion exceeding normal volume.


Including particular average


Including particular average




Incoterms or international commercial terms are a series of international sales terms, published by International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and are widely used in international commercial transactions. They are used to divide transaction costs and responsibilities between buyer and seller and reflect state-of-the-art transportation practices. The first version was introduced in 1936 and the present dates from 2010. For more information see Terms of Sale. For more information see Terms of Sale.


Indemnity Bond


An agreement to hold a carrier harmless with regard to a liability.


Independent Action


The right of a conference member to publish a rate of tariff rule that departs from the Agreement’s common rate or rule.


Independent Tariff


Any body of rate tariffs that are not part of an agreement or conference system.




Placing a port on a vessel’s itinerary because the volume of cargo offered by that port justifies the cost of routing the vessel.


Inglefield Clip


A type of clip used to attach a flag to a flag halyard.


Inland Carrier


A transportation line that hauls export or import traffic between ports and inland points.


Inland Point Intermodal


Refers to inland points (non-ports) that can be served by carriers on a through bill of lading.


Inland Port


An inland port (sometimes Dry Port) is an inland intermodal terminal directly connected by road or rail to a seaport and operating as a centre for the transshipment of sea cargo to inland destinations.

In addition to their role in cargo transshipment, dry ports may also include facilities for storage and consolidation of goods, maintenance for road or rail cargo carriers and customs clearance services.

The location of these facilities at a dry port relieves competition for storage and customs space at the seaport itself.


Inspection Certificate


A certificate issued by an independent agent or firm attesting to the quality and/or quantity of the merchandise being shipped. Such a certificate is usually required in a letter of credit for commodity shipments.


Installment Shipments


Successive shipments that are permitted under letters of credit. Usually they must take place within a given period of time.


Institute cargo clauses


Maritime insurance


Institute of Freight Forwarders


Institute of Freight Forwarders


Insulated Container


A container insulated on the walls, roof, floor and doors, to reduce the effect of external temperatures on the cargo.


Insulated Tank


The frame of a container constructed to hold one or more thermally insulated tanks for liquids.


Insurance Certificate


Assures the consignee that insurance is provided to guard against loss or damage to the cargo while in transit.


Insurance with Average-clause


This type of clause covers merchandise if the damage amounts to three per cent or more of the insured value of the package or cargo. If the vessel burns, sinks, or collides, all losses are fully-covered. In Marine Insurance, the word average means partial damage or partial loss.


Insurance, All-risk


This type of insurance offers the shipper the broadest coverage available, covering against all losses that may occur in transit.


Insurance, General-Average


In water transportation, the deliberate sacrifice of cargo to make the vessel safe for the remaining cargo. Those sharing in the spared cargo proportionally cover the loss.


Insurance, Particular Average


A marine insurance term which refers to partial loss on an individual shipment from one of the perils insured against, regardless of the balance of the cargo. Particular average insurance can usually be obtained, but the loss must be in excess of a certain percentage of the insured value of the shipment, usually three to five per cent, before a claim will be allowed by the company.


Interchange Agreement


A formal agreement whereby participants agree to exchange equipment in intermodal movements.


Interchange Points


A terminal at which freight in the course of transportation is delivered by one transportation line to another.




An interline agreement is a mutual agreement between lines to transport each other’s cargoes at agreed rates.


Interline Freight


Freight moving from origin to destination over the lines of two or more transportation carriers.


Intermediate Points


A point located en route between two other points.




The term used to denote movements of cargo containers interchangeably between transport modes (motor, water and air carriers) where the equipment is compatible within the multiple systems.

This is one of the remarkable advantages brought about by containerisation. All the arrangements can be made in advance by one party; transfer from one mode to another is very quick, nobody needing to handle the merchandise, with the result of A-to-Z transit times being greatly reduced.


Intermodal container transfer facility


An on-dock facility for moving containers from ship to rail or truck.


Internal Register


A register of ships maintained as a subset of a national register. Ships on the internal register fly the national flag and have that nationality but are subject to a separate set of maritime rules from those on the main national register. These differences usually include lower taxation of profits, manning of foreign nationals, and, typically, ownership outside the flag state (when it functions as an FOC register).

The Norwegian International Ship Register and Danish International Ship Register are the most notable examples of an internal register. Both have been instrumental in stemming flight from the national flag to flags of convenience and in attracting foreign owned ships to the Norwegian and Danish flags.


Internation Maritime Organisation


Formerly known as IMCO established in Geneva in 1948, and brought into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959. The IMCO name was changed to IMO in 1982.

Now headquartered in London, U.K., the IMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations with 168 Member States and three Associate Members. The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.


International Air Transport Association


The trade and service organisation representing international airlines from more than 100 countries.


International Air Transport Association (1)


The trade and service organisation representing international airlines from more than 100 countries.


International Association of Classification Societies


An organisation in which the major classification societies, among others American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register of Shipping and Germanischer Lloyd, are joined, whose principal aim is the improvement of standards concerning safety at sea.

The members of IACS are:

ABS American Bureau of Shipping

BV Bureau Veritas

CCS China Classification Society

DNV Det Norske Veritas

GL Germanischer Lloyd

KR Korean Register of Shipping

LR Lloyd’s Register

NK Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK)

RINA Registro Italiano Navale

RS Russian Maritime Register of Shipping


International Chamber of Commerce


The largest, most representative business organisation in the world. Its hundreds of thousands of member companies in over 130 countries have interests spanning every sector of private enterprise. A world network of national committees keeps the ICC International Secretariat in Paris informed about national and regional business priorities. More than 2,000 experts drawn from ICC’s member companies feed their knowledge and experience into crafting the ICC stance on specific business issues. The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and many other intergovernmental bodies, both international and regional, are kept in touch with the views of international business through ICC.


International data interchange standards


The United Nations-backed electronic data interchange standards body, used to create electronic versions of common business documents that will work on a global scale.


International dhip and port facility security code


An amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention (1974/1988) on minimum security arrangements for ships, ports and government agencies.

Having come into force in 2004

International Maritime Consultative Organisation


A United Nations-affiliated organisation established in 1948 and representing all maritime countries in matters affecting maritime transportation; including the movement of dangerous goods, bulk commodities and maritime regulations.


International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)
(IMDG Code)


A code, representing the classification of dangerous goods as defined by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in compliance with international legal requirements.


International Maritime Satelite Organisation


A company originally founded in 1979 as the International Maritime Satellite Organisation (Inmarsat), a not-for-profit international organisation, set up at the behest of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

When the organisation was converted into a private company in 1999, the business was split into two parts: the bulk of the organisation was converted into the commercial company, Inmarsat plc, and a small group became the regulatory body, IMSO. It provides telephony and data services to users worldwide, via special terminals which communicate to ground stations through twelve geosynchronous telecommunications satellites.


International Organisation for Standardisation


An international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organisations. Founded on 23rd February 1947, the organisation promulgates worldwide proprietary industrial and commercial standards. It has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


Interstate Commerce Commission


U.S.A. abbreviation for Interstate Commerce Commission, The U.S.A. federal body charged with enforcing acts of the USA Congress that affect common carriers in interstate control.




An itemised list of goods shipped to a buyer, stating quantities, prices, shipping charges, etc.


Inward Foreign Manifest


A complete listing of all cargo entering the country of discharge. This is required at all world ports and is the primary source of cargo control, against which duty is assessed by the receiving country.


Inward freight manifest


a complete listing of all cargo entering the country of discharge – required at all world ports. Failure to provide, errors in preparation, or late submittal causes the vessel operator to be fined. IFM is the primary source of cargo control, against which duty is assessed by the receiving country. Since it is a revenue-producing document, it must be accurate.


In-water survey


A method of surveying the underwater parts of a ship while it is still afloat instead of having to drydock it for examination of these areas, as was conventionally done.


Irrevocable Letter of Credit


A letter of credit in which the specified payment is guaranteed by the bank if all terms and conditions are met by the drawee and which cannot be revoked without joint agreement of both the buyer and the seller.


ISO 9000


ISO 9000 is a series of standards, developed and published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), intended to define, establish, and maintain an effective quality assurance system for manufacturing and service industries.


Issuing Bank


A bank that opens a straight or negotiable letter of credit and assumes the obligation to pay the bank or beneficiary if the documents presented are in accordance with the terms of the letter of credit.


Issuing Carrier


The carrier issuing transportation documents or publishing a tariff.



1. A sailor. Also jack tar or just tar.

2. A flag. Typically the flag was talked about as if it were a member of the crew. Strictly speaking



A wood or fibre cover placed around such containers as cans and bottles.


Jacklines or jack stays


Lines, often steel wire with a plastic jacket, from the bow to the stern on both port and starboard. The Jacklines are used to clip on the safety harness to secure the crew to the vessel, while giving them the freedom to walk on the deck.


Jacob’s Ladder


A rope ladder suspended from the side of a vessel and used for boarding.




A large jib, strongly overlapping the mainmast. Also called genoa.




Debris ejected from a ship that sinks or washes ashore..




The act of throwing cargo or equipment (jetsam) overboard when a ship is in danger.


Jettison and washing overboard


Jettison and washing overboard




A mole or breakwater, running out into the sea to protect harbours or coasts. It is sometimes used as a landing-pier.




A triangular staysail at the front of a ship.




A spar used to extend the bowsprit.




For more information see gybe.




The fourth mast – although ships with four or more masts were uncommon – or the aft most mast where it is smallest on vessels of less than four masts.




A slender triangular recess cut into the faying surface of a frame or steamed timber to fit over the land of clinker planking, or cut into the faying edge of a plank or rebate to avoid feather ends on a streak of planking. The feather end is cut off to produce a nib. The joggle and nib in this case is made wide enough to allow a caulking iron to enter the seam.


Joint Rate


A rate applicable from a point on one transportation line to a point on another line, made by agreement and published in a single tariff by all transportation lines over which the rate applies.


Joint Venture


A form of business partnership involving joint management and the sharing of risks and profits between enterprises sometimes based in different countries.




A traditional Royal Navy nickname for the Royal Marines.


Jones Act


A 1920 Act of the U.S. Congress prohibiting foreign flag carriers from participating in the U.S. intercoastal trade by water.

It currently is applicable in such trade lanes as the US continental states to and from Hawaii and Alaska.




A voyage from one place, port or country to another one, in case of a round trip, to the same one.




Old cordage past its useful service life as lines aboard ship. The strands of old junk were teased apart in the process called picking oakum.




Juridical decisions used for explanation and meaning of law.




With this method of inventory control



The central structural basis of the hull.




A maritime punishment involving the dragging of an individual under the keel of a ship.




The timber immediately above the keel of a wooden ship.




A small anchor. A fouled killick is the substantive badge of non-commissioned officers in the Royal Navy. Seamen promoted to the first step in the promotion ladder are called ‘Killick’. The badge signifies that here is an Able Seaman skilled to cope with the awkward job of dealing with a fouled anchor.




Abbreviation for ‘Kilo’ or metric ton. 1,000 kilos or 2,204.6 pounds.




1,000 grams or 2.2046 pounds.


King Pin


A coupling pin centered on the front underside of a chassis; couples to the tractor.


King Plank


The centreline plank of a laid deck. Its sides are often recessed, or nibbed, to take the ends of their parallel curved deck planks.


Kissing the gunner’s daughter


The act of bending over the barrel of a gun for punitive beating with a cane or cat.


Kitchen Rudder


Hinged cowling around a fixed propeller, allowing the drive to be directed to the side or forwards to manoeuvre the vessel.




Connects two parts roughly at right angles, e.g. deck beams to frames.


Knocked Down


An article taken apart, folded or telescoped in such a manner as to reduce its bulk compared to its assembled bulk.


Knocked down less than carload lots


Knocked down less than carload lots


Knot (nautical)


The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, which is equal to exactly 1.852 kmh and approximately 1.151 mph.

Until the mid-19th century vessel speed at sea was measured using a chip log. This consisted of a wooden panel, weighted on one edge to float upright, and thus present substantial resistance to moving with respect to the water around it, attached by line to a reel.

This way of measuring the knot was invented by Commodore Mark Wilhde. The chip log was ‘cast’ over the stern of the moving vessel and the line allowed to pay out. Knots placed at a distance of 47 feet 3 inches (14.4018 m) passed through a sailor’s fingers, while another sailor used a 30 second sandglass (28 second sandglass is the current accepted timing) to time the operation. The knot count would be reported and used in the sailing master’s dead reckoning and navigation. And this was recorded, of course, in the Ship’s Log.

This method gives a value for the knot of 20.25 in/s, or 1.85166 km/h. The difference from the modern definition is less than 0.02%.


Know the ropes


A sailor who ‘knows the ropes’ is familiar with the miles of cordage and ropes involved in running a ship.


Korean Register of shipping


The Korean Register of Shipping (KR) is the only classification society founded in Korea offering verification and certification services for ships and marine structures in terms of design, construction and maintenance. KR promotes the safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the environment.

Plus, KR also provides certification services for various business sectors including education & training, navy & coast guard vessels, renewable energy and etc. KR is Asia’s second biggest classification society and aims to be on world’s top five by 2020.

The company has 560 employees in 45 offices worldwide. Its headquarters is located in DaeJeon, South Korea.


Kyoto Convention


The convention for the International Customs Co-operation Council held in Kyoto in 1974 for the simplification and harmonisation of national customs procedures. On 25th of June 1999 the updated and restructured International Convention on the simplification and harmonisation of Customs Procedures (Kyoto Convention) was unanimously adopted by 114 customs administrations. This convention was restructured to deal with computerised controls and to ensure better cooperation between Customs authorities mutually and with trade in general.



The tag marking the cargo. Hazardous cargoes have their own specific labels that must follow the shipment.




On board a ship, all ‘stairs’ are called ladders, except for literal staircases aboard passenger ships. Most ‘stairs’ on a ship are narrow and nearly vertical, hence the name.




From the verb to lade; loaded aboard a vessel.


Laden Vessel


For more information see Loaded Vessel.




Refers to the freight shipped. The contents of a shipment.




Cargo or equipment to which an identifying marker or buoy is fastened, thrown over-board in times of danger to lighten a ship’s load. Under maritime law, if the goods are later found they must be returned to the owner whose marker is attached; the owner must make a salvage payment.




North American Great Lakes slang for a vessel which spends all its time on the five Great Lakes.


Land lubber


A term to describe a person unfamiliar with being on the sea.




The movement of cargo by water from one country through the port of another country, then using rail or truck, to an inland point in that country or to a third country. For example: a through movement of Asian cargo to Europe across North America.


Landed Cost


The total cost of a good to a buyer, including the cost of transportation.


Landing Gear


A support fitted on the front part of a chassis (which is retractable). It is used to support the front end of a chassis when the tractor has been removed.




Primarily used to indicate the cargo capacity of a roll-on/roll-off car carrier. It is one meter of deck with a width of 2.5 to 3.0 metres.




A rope that ties something off.




An obsolete term for the left side of a ship. It is derived from ‘lay-board’ providing access between a ship and a quay, when ships normally docked with the left side to the wharf. Replaced by port side or port, to avoid confusion with starboard.




For more information see by and large.


Lash (to)


To hold goods in position by the use of wires, ropes, chains and straps.


Lateral system


A system of aids to navigation in which characteristics of buoys and beacons indicate the sides of the channel or route relative to a conventional direction of buoyage (usually upstream).




To come and go; used in giving orders to the crew, such as ‘lay forward’ or ‘lay aloft’. To direct the course of vessel. Also, to twist the strands of a rope together.


Lay Days


The dates between which a chartered vessel is to be available in a port for loading of cargo.




Laydays/Cancelling (date); range of dates within which the hire contract must start.


Laying Down


Beginning construction in a shipyard.




A small stowage locker at the aft end of a boat.




A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. Until 1908, lazarets were also used for disinfecting postal items, usually by fumigation. A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the Beggar.




A unit of length, normally equal to three nautical miles.


Leakage and breakage
(Lkg. & Bkg.)


Leakage and breakage




A contract by which one party gives to another party the use of property or equipment, e.g. containers, for a specified time against fixed payments.


Lee Shore


A shore downwind of a ship. A ship which cannot sail well to windward risks being blown onto a lee shore and grounded.


Lee Side


The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (which is known as the weather side).




The aft or trailing edge of a fore-and-aft sail; the leeward edge of a spinnaker; a vertical edge of a square sail. The leech is susceptible to twist, which is controlled by the boom vang and mainsheet.




In the direction that the wind is blowing towards.




The amount that a ship is blown leeward by the wind. For more information see ‘weatherly’.


Legal Weight


The weight of the goods plus any immediate wrappings which are sold along with the goods e.g., the weight of a tin can as well as its contents.

For more information see ‘Gross Weight’.


Length Overall


The full length of a ship.


Less than containerload


The quantity of freight which is less than that required for the application of a container load rate. Loose freight.


Less than container-load


This refers to shipments that do not completely fill a container and are, therefore, combined with other shipments at a warehouse to fill a container; sometimes referred to as LTL (less-than Trailer Load).


Less than truckload


The quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload rate.


Let go and haul


An order indicating that the ship is in line with the wind.


Letter of Credit


A conditional bank guarantee.

Ls/Cs are financial documents issued by banks, at the request of a consignee, guaranteeing payment to the shipper of the cargo provided that certain terms and conditions are fulfilled. Normally a L/C contains a brief description of the goods, the documents required, a shipping date, and an expiration date after which payment will no longer be made.

An Irrevocable Letter of Credit is one which obligates the issuing bank to pay the exporter when all terms and conditions of the L/C have been met. None of the terms and conditions may be changed without the consent of all the parties to the L/C.

A Revocable Letter of Credit is subject to possible recall or amendment at the option of the applicant, without the approval of the beneficiary.

A Confirmed Letter of Credit is issued by a foreign bank with its validity confirmed by a US bank. An exporter who requires a confirmed L/C from the buyer is assured payment from the US bank in case the foreign buyer or bank defaults.

A Documentary Letter of Credit is one for which the issuing bank stipulates that certain documents must accompany a draft. The documents assure the applicant (importer) that the merchandise has been shipped and that title to the goods has been transferred to the importer.


Letter of Indemnity


The guarantee from the shipper or consignee to indemnify a carrier for costs and/or loss, if any, in order to obtain favourable action by the carrier, e.g. sometimes, it is used to allow the consignee to take delivery of goods without surrendering the B/L which has been delayed or become lost.

On export shipments, some carriers may permit shippers to issue Letters of Indemnity to the carriers in order to secure from them clean bills of lading in place of foul, however the risk is then high that the Letter of Indemnity is found unenforceable by a court.


Letter of Marque and Reprisal


A warrant granted to a privateer condoning specific acts of piracy against a target as a redress for grievances.




Legal responsibility for the consequences of certain acts or omissions.




A legal claim upon goods for the satisfaction of some debt or duty.


Lifebelt, lifejacket, life preserver or ‘Mae West’


A device such as a buoyant ring or inflatable jacket which keeps a person afloat in the water.




Shipboard lifeboat, kept on board a vessel and used to take crew and passengers to safety in the event of the ship being abandoned.

Rescue lifeboat, usually launched from shore, used to rescue people from the water or from vessels in difficulty.




An inflatable, covered raft, used in the event of a vessel being abandoned.




This is breakbulk cargo that can be lifted on and off the vessel by cranes and derricks.




The process by which a vessel discharges part of its cargo at anchor into a lighter to reduce the vessel’s draft so it can then get alongside a pier.




An open or covered barge towed by a tugboat and used mainly in harbours and inland waterways to carry cargo to/from alongside a vessel.


Lighter Aboard Ship (1)


A specially constructed vessel, equipped with an overhead crane, for lifting custom-designed barges and stowing them into cellular slots in an athwartship position.


Lighter aboard ship


The acronym for ‘Lighter Aboard Ship’. This system refers to the practice of loading barges (lighters) aboard a larger vessel for transport.

It was developed in response to a need to transport lighters, a type of unpowered barge, between inland waterways separated by open seas. Lighters are typically towed or pushed around harbors, canals or rivers and cannot be relocated under their own power.

The carrier ships are known variously as LASH carriers, barge carriers, kangaroo ships or lighter transport ships.


Lighterage (1)






This refers to the carriage of goods by lighter and the charge assessed thereafter.




The weight of an empty vessel, including equipment and outfit, spare parts required by the regulatory bodies, machinery in working condition and liquids in the systems, but excluding liquids in the storage tanks, stores and crew.




The correct nautical term for the majority of the cordage or ‘ropes’ used on a vessel. A line will always have a more specific name, such as mizzen topsail halyard, which describes its use.




Ship of the line: a major warship capable of taking its place in the main (battle) line of fighting ships. Hence the modern term for prestigious passenger vessels: ocean liner.

A cargo vessel sailing between specified ports on a regular basis.


Liner Conference


A group of two or more vessel-operating carriers, which provides international liner services for the carriage of cargo on a particular trade route and which has an agreement or arrangement to operate under uniform or common freight rates and any other agreed conditions.


Liner In Free Out


A transport condition denoting that the freight rate is inclusive of the sea carriage and the cost of loading; the latter as per the custom of the port. It excludes the cost of discharging.


Liquefied natural Gas


Natural gas will liquefy at a temperature of approximately -259 F or -160 C at atmospheric pressure. One cubic foot of liquefied gas will expand to approximately 600 cubic feet of gas at atmospheric pressure.




The finalisation of a customs entry.




The vessel’s angle of lean or tilt to one side, in degrees, in the direction called roll.




Common farm animals


Lloyd’s of London


Lloyd’s, also known as Lloyd’s of London, is a British insurance market. The Society of Lloyd’s was incorporated by Lloyd’s Act 1871.

Unlike most of its competitors in the reinsurance market, it is not a company.

It serves as a meeting place where multiple financial backers, underwriters, or ‘members’, whether individuals (traditionally known as ‘Names’) or corporations, come together to pool and spread risk.


Lloyds’ Registry


The Lloyd’s Register Group is a maritime classification society and independent risk management organisation providing risk assessment and mitigation services and management systems certification. Historically, as Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, it was a specifically maritime organisation. In the late 20th century it diversified into other sectors, including oil & gas, process industries, nuclear and rail.

Like the famous international insurance market, Lloyd’s of London, Lloyd’s Register owes its name and foundation to the 17th century coffee house in London frequented by merchants, marine underwriters, and others, all connected with shipping. The owner, Edward Lloyd, helped them to exchange information by circulating a printed sheet of all the news he heard. In 1760, the Register Society was formed by the customers of the coffee house.

Other than this historical connection, Lloyd’s Register is unrelated to Lloyd’s of London.


LNGC (LNG Carrier)
(LNG Carrier)


An ocean-going ship specially constructed to carry LNG in tanks at 160 C. The current average carrying capacity of LNGs is 143,000 cubic metres. However the largest LNGCs developed by Qatargas – known as Q-Flex and Q-Max – can carry between 210,000 and 266,000 cubic metres of liquefied natural gas.




The freight in a vehicle or container.


Load Line


The waterline corresponding to the maximum draft to which a vessel is permitted to load, either by freeboard regulations, the conditions of classification, or the conditions of service. For more information see ‘Plimsoll Mark’.


Load Ratio


The ratio of loaded miles to empty miles per tractor.


Loaded to the gunwales


A term which literally means having cargo loaded as high as the ship’s rail. It is also a colloquial meaning for feeling extremely drunk.


Loaded Vessel


A vessel where cargo has been put on board.


Loading Time


The maximum permissible time for loading or unloading cargo.




Any named geographical place, recognised by a competent national body, with permanent facilities used for goods movements associated with international trade, and used frequently for these purposes.

Geographical place such as a port, an airport, an inland freight terminal, a container freight station, a container yard, a container depot, a terminal or any other place where customs clearance and/or regular receipt or delivery of goods can take place.

Geographical place such as a port, an airport, an inland freight terminal, a container freight station, a container yard, a container depot, a terminal or any other place where customs clearance and/or regular receipt or delivery of goods can take place.




For marine purposes this is a space, enclosed at the sides by walls and at each end by gates, by which a vessel can be floated up or down to a different level. The Panama and Suez canals have many locks, for instance.




An iron ball attached to a long handle, used for driving caulking into seams and (occasionally) in a fight. Hence the saying: ‘at loggerheads’.


Long Ton


The U.S. imperial weight value of 2,240 pounds.


Long ton (1)
(l. t. or l. tn.)


Long ton




Stevedore, dock worker; an individual employed locally in a port to load and unload ships.




Without packing.


Loose cannon


An irresponsible and reckless individual whose behaviour (either intended or unintended) endangers the group he or she belongs to. A loose cannon, weighing thousands of pounds, would crush anything and anyone in its path, and possibly even break a hole in the hull, thus endangering the seaworthiness of the whole ship.


Loose footed


A mainsail that is not connected to a boom along its foot.


Los Angeles Export Terminal


Los Angeles Export Terminal


Loss and damage


Loss and damage




A trailer or semi-trailer with no sides and with the floor of the unit close to the ground to allow for the transport of overheight pieces.


Lubber’s line


A vertical line inside a compass case indicating the direction of the ship’s head.




The forward edge of a sail.


Luff up


To steer a sailing vessel more towards the direction of the wind until the pressure is eased on the [sheet].




When a sailing vessel is steered far enough to windward that the sail is no longer completely filled with wind (the luff of a fore-and-aft sail begins to flap first).

Loosening a sheet so far past optimal trim that the sail is no longer completely filled with wind.

The flapping of the sail(s) which results from having no wind in the sail at all.


Lump Sum


An agreed sum of money, which is paid in full settlement at one time.


Lump Sum Charter


A voyage charter whereby the ship-owner agrees to place the whole or a part of the vessel’s capacity at the charterer’s disposal for which a lump-sum freight is being paid.


Lying ahull


The act of waiting out a storm by dousing all sails and simply letting the boat drift.

Mae West


A Second World War personal flotation device used to keep people afloat in the water; named after the 1930s actress Mae West, well-known for her pneumatic torso.


Mafi Trailer


A German brand name of a roll trailer used for RoRo purposes.


Magnetic Bearing


An absolute bearing using magnetic north.


Magnetic North


The direction towards the Magnetic North Pole. Varies slowly over time.


Maiden Trip


The first voyage of a vessel after delivery from new-building to her owner(s).




One of the braces attached to the mainmast.


Mainmast (or Main)


The tallest mast on a ship.




The sail control line that allows the most obvious effect on mainsail trim. It is primarily used to control the angle of the boom, and thereby the mainsail. This control can also increase or decrease downward tension on the boom while sailing upwind, significantly affecting sail shape. For more control over downward tension on the boom, a boom vang is recommended.


Making way


The scenario of a vessel moving under its own power.




Malaccamax is a naval architecture term for the largest size of ship capable of fitting through the 25 metres (82 ft)-deep Strait of Malacca. This waterway connects the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) and the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean). It runs between the Indonesian island of Sumatra to the west and peninsular (West) Malaysia and extreme southern Thailand to the east.

Bulk carriers and supertankers have been built to this size, and the term is chosen for very large crude carriers (VLCC). A Malaccamax container ship would be 470 m long and 60 m wide, with 20 m of draft and 300,000 metric tons deadweight (DWT) for a capacity of 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). The ports’ growth requirements could be leading to the creation of new terminals dedicated to those ships.




USA; FMC Regulations. A carrier giving a customer illegal preference to attract cargo.

This can take the form of a money refund (rebate); using lower figures than actual for the assessment of freight charges (undercubing); misdeclaration of the commodity shipped to allow the assessment of a lower tariff rate; waiving published tariff charges for demurrage, CFS handling or equalisation; providing specialised equipment to a shipper to the detriment of other shippers, etc.


Man of war or man o’ war


A warship from the Age of Sail.


Man overboard!


A cry let out when a seaman has gone overboard.




A writ issued by a court; determines that specific actions be carried out.




A list or invoice of the passengers or goods being carried by a commercial vehicle or ship. It is a document that lists in detail all the bills of lading issued by a vessel or its agent or master, for example, a detailed summary of the total cargo of a vessel. Used principally for Customs purposes.


Marconi rig


Another term for Bermudan sailing rig. The mainsail is triangular, rigged fore-and-aft with the lead edge fixed to the mast. It refers to the similarity of the tall mast to a radio aerial.




A docking facility suitable for small ships and yachts.


Marine Cargo Insurance


In broad terms, it is insurance covering the loss or damage of goods at sea. Marine insurance typically compensates the owner of merchandise for losses sustained from fire, shipwreck, etc. but excludes losses that can be recovered from the carrier.


Marines Soldiers afloat


Royal Marines formed as the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot in 1664 with many and varied duties including providing guard to the ship’s officers should there be mutiny aboard. They were sometimes thought by seamen to be rather gullible, hence the phrase ‘tell it to the marines’.




Business pertaining to commerce or navigation transacted upon the sea or in seaports in such matters as the court of admiralty has jurisdiction.


Maritime Group


(Rules for Sea and Inland Waterways transport – none of which should be used for carriage in intermodal containers)

FAS – Free Alongside Ship (named port of shipment)

FOB – Free On Board (named port of shipment)

CFR – Cost and Freight (named port of destination)

CIF – Cost, Insurance and Freight (named port of destination)


Maritime Law


Maritime law is a complete system of law, both public and private, substantive and procedural, national and international, with its own courts and jurisdiction, which goes back to Rhodian law of 800 B.C. and pre-dates both the civil and common laws.

Its more modern origins were civilian in nature, as first seen in the R�les of Oléron of circa 1190 A.D. Maritime law was subsequently greatly influenced and formed by the English Admiralty Court and then later by the common law itself.

That maritime law is a complete legal system can be seen from its component parts. For centuries maritime law has had its own law of contract:

of sale (of ships);

of service (towage);

of lease (chartering);

of carriage (of goods by sea);

of insurance (marine insurance being the precursor of insurance ashore);

of agency (ship chandlers);

of pledge (bottomry and respondentia);

of hire (of masters and seamen);

of compensation for sickness and personal injury (maintenance and cure) and

risk distribution (general average).

It is and has been a national and an international law (probably the first private international law). It has also had its own public law and public international law. Maritime law is composed of two main parts – national maritime statutes and international maritime conventions, on the one hand, and the general maritime law (lex maritima), on the other.

Today’s general maritime law consists of the common forms, terms, rules, standards and practices of the maritime shipping industry – standard form bills of lading, charter parties, marine insurance policies and sales contracts are good examples of common forms and the accepted meaning of the terms, as well as the York/Antwerp Rules on general average and the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits.




Letters, numbers and other symbols placed on cargo packages to facilitate identification. These are also known as marks.


MARPOL 73/78


Marpol 73/78 is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978. (‘Marpol’ is short for marine pollution and 73/78 short for the years 1973 and 1978.)

Marpol 73/78 is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions. It was designed to minimise pollution of the seas, including dumping, oil and exhaust pollution. Its stated object is: to preserve the marine environment through the complete elimination of pollution by oil and other harmful substances and the minimisation of accidental discharge of such substances.




A vertical pole on a ship designed to support sails or rigging.




Either the commander of a commercial vessel, or a senior officer of a naval sailing ship in charge of routine seamanship and navigation but not in command during combat.


Master Bill


In case of consolidation, the Master Bill is the B/L of the carrier’s contract of carriage, split among House Bills, the consolidator’s contract of carriage with their clients.




A non-commissioned officer responsible for discipline on a naval ship. Standing between the officers and the crew, commonly known in the Royal Navy as ‘the Buffer’.




A small platform partway up the mast, just above the height of the mast’s main yard. A lookout is stationed here, and men who are working on the main yard will embark from here. For more information see Crow’s Nest.




The French term for sailor. A traditional Royal Navy term for an ordinary sailor.


Mate’s Receipt (1)


An archaic practice. It was an ‘acknowledgement of cargo’ receipt signed by a mate of the vessel. The possessor of the mate’s receipt is entitled to the bill of lading, in exchange for that receipt.


Measurement Cargo


Freight on which transportation charges are calculated on the basis of volume measurement.


Measurement Ton


USA Imperial measure; 40 cubic feet.


Mechanically Ventilated Container


A container fitted with a means of forced air ventilation (fan).


Memo Bill


For more information see Service Bill of Lading.


Memorandum Bill of Lading


A duplicate copy of an in-house bill of lading.


Mercantile marine


Mercantile marine




For cargo carried under the terms and conditions of the Carrier’s Bill of Lading and of a tariff, a merchant describes any trader or persons (e.g. Shipper, Consignee) and including anyone acting on their behalf, owning or entitled to possession of the goods.


Merchant Haulage


Container’s trucking managed by the sender or a forwarder (as opposed to Carrier Haulage). It includes empty container-moves to and from hand-over points in respect of containers released by the Carrier to Merchants.


Merchant Marine


All ships engaged in the carriage of goods i.e. all commercial vessels (as opposed to all non-military ships), which excludes tugs, fishing vessels, offshore oil rigs, etc. This includes a grouping of merchant ships by nationality or register.


Merchant Ship


A vessel that carries goods against payment of freight; commonly used to denote any non-military ship but accurately restricted to commercial vessels only.




An eating place aboard ship. A group of crew who live and eat together.


Mess deck catering


A system of catering in which a standard ration is issued to a mess supplemented by a money allowance which may be used by the mess to buy additional provisions from the purser’s stores or elsewhere.

Each mess was autonomous and self-regulating. Seaman cooks, often members of the mess, prepared the meals and took them, in a tin canteen, to the galley to be cooked by the ship’s cooks.


Metric Ton (1)


2,204.6 pounds or 1,000 kilograms.


Metric ton


2204 lbs


Metric ton (2)


Metric ton




A cargo movement in which the water carrier provides a through service between an inland point and the port of load/discharge. The carrier is responsible for cargo and costs from the origin to destination. This movement is also known as IPI or Thru Service.




A non-commissioned officer below the rank of Lieutenant. They are usually regarded as being ‘in training’ to some degree. These officers have also been known as ‘Snotty’.

The Midshipman is ‘the lowest form of animal life in the Royal Navy’ where he has authority over and responsibility for more junior ranks, yet, at the same time, relying on their experience and learning his trade from them.




A unit equal to 5,280 feet on land. A nautical mile is 6,076.115 feet.For more information see nautical mile.


Mini Landbridge (1)


An intermodal system for transporting containers by ocean, and then by rail or motor, to a port previously served as an all-water. For example, the route of Hong Kong to New York over Seattle. For more information see Landbridge.


Mini Landbridge


Mini Landbridge


Minimum Bill of Lading


A clause that specifies the minimum charge that the carrier will make for issuing a lading. The charge may be a definite sum or the current charge per ton for any specified quantity.


Minimum Charge


The lowest amount which applies to the transport of a consignment, irrespective of weight or volume.




A container which is stowed in an improper position on a vessel or a container on a vessel that does not belong on that particular ship.


Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.


A Japanese transport company whose main area of operations is international shipping. Its alligator logo can be seen on containers in ports around the world.

Founded as a key part of the Mitsui zaibatsu (family-owned conglomerate) during the early industrialisation of Japan, the company is now independent of the zaibatsu, but remains part of the Mitsui keiretsu (group of aligned companies).


Mixed Consignment


A consignment of varying commodities, articles or goods, packed or tied together or contained in separate packages.


Mixed Containerload


A containerload of different articles in a single consignment.


Mizzen staysail


The sail on a ketch or yawl, usually lightweight, set from, and forward of, the mizzen mast while reaching in light to moderate air.


Mizzenmast (or Mizzen)


The third mast on a ship.


Modified Atmosphere


A blend of gases tailored to a specific load of cargo that replaces the normal atmosphere within a container.


Monkey’s Fist


A ball woven out of line used to provide heft to heave the line to another location. The monkey’s fist and other heaving-line knots were sometimes weighted with lead (easily available in the form of foil used to seal e.g. tea chests from dampness) although Clifford W. Ashley notes that there was a ‘definite sporting limit’ to the weight thus added.




To attach a boat to a mooring buoy or post. This also applies to the docking of a ship.


Morse Code


Morse code is a type of character encoding that transmits telegraphic information using rhythm. Morse code uses a standardised sequence of short and long elements to represent the letters, numerals, punctuation and special characters of a given message.

Originally created for Samuel F. B. Morse’s electric telegraph in the early 1840s, Morse code was also extensively used for early radio communication beginning in the 1890s.

Military ships, including those of the US Navy, have long used signal lamps to exchange messages in Morse code. Modern use continues, in part, as a way to communicate while maintaining radio silence. An important application is signalling for help through SOS, ‘. . . – – – . . . ‘. This can be sent many ways: keying a radio on and off, flashing a mirror, toggling a flashlight and other similar methods.

Regulations in 1987 replaced Morse code with the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) and came into force from 1st February 1992.


Most favoured nation


In international economic relations and international politics, ‘most favoured nation’ is a status or level of treatment accorded by one state to another in international trade.

The term means the country which is the recipient of this treatment must, nominally, receive equal trade advantages as the ‘most favoured nation’ by the country granting such treatment. (Trade advantages include low Customs Duty tariffs or high import quotas.)


(M/V or M.V.)






A template of the shape of a ship’s hull in transverse section. Several moulds are used to form a temporary framework around which a hull is built.




Various modes of transportation, synonymous for all practical purposes with the term ‘intermodal.’


Multimodal Group


(Rules for any mode or modes of transport)

* EXW – Ex Works (named place of delivery)

* FCA – Free Carrier (named place of delivery)

(replacing the old FAS and FOB)

* CPT – Carriage Paid To (named place of destination)

(replacing the old C&F)

* CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid to (named place of destination)

(replacing the old CIF)

* DAT – Delivered At Terminal (named terminal at port or place of destination)

* DAP – Delivered At Place (named place of destination)

* DDP – Delivered Duty Paid (named place of destination)


Multi-Purpose Carrier or Vessel


A vessel designed for the carriage of different types of cargo: general, bulk, heavy and/or containerised cargo.


Multi-Tank Container


A container frame fitted to accommodate two or more separate tanks for liquids.

National Carrier


A flag carrier owned or controlled by the state.


National committee on internation trade documentation


National committee on internation trade documentation


Nautical Mile


The nautical mile (symbol M, NM, Nm or nmi) is a unit of length corresponding approximately to one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian.

The international nautical mile was defined by the First International Extraordinary Hydrographic Conference, Monaco (1929) as exactly 1852 metres. This is the only definition in widespread current use, and is the only one accepted by the International Hydrographic Organization and by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM).

Before 1929, different countries had different definitions, and the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States did not immediately accept the international value.




The act of determining position, location and course to the destination of a vessel.


Navigation rules


Rules of the road that provide guidance on how to avoid collision and also used to assign blame when a collision does occur.




Imprudent action or omission which may cause injury, damage or loss.




In terms of documents, ‘negotiable’ means that, for example, a Bill of Lading is handed over/transferred in the right manner (viz. proper endorsement) to another person either endorsed in blank or endorsed to a person and that person acquires, by this transfer, certain rights vis-�-vis the goods – for example they are entitled to take possession of the goods.


Negotiable Instruments


A document of title (such as a draft, promissory note, check, or bill of lading) transferable from one person to another in good faith for a consideration. Non-negotiable bills of lading are known as ‘straight consignment.’ Negotiable bills are known as ‘Order Bs/L.’


Neptune Orient Lines


‘Neptune Orient Lines’ Limited SGX, a Singapore-based global transport company with core businesses in container shipping and supply chain management.

A subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, it wholly owns shipping company American President Lines, now known as APL and its sister logistics arm APL Logistics.




Articles packed so that one rests partially or entirely within another, thereby reducing a vessel’s cubic-foot displacement.


Net Capacity


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


Net register tons


This is the theoretical cargo capacity of a ship. It is sometimes used to charge fees or taxes on a vessel. For more information see ‘Net Tonnage.’


Net Short Ton


USA: 2,000 pounds.


Net Tare Weight


The weight of an empty cargo-carrying piece of equipment plus any fixtures permanently attached.


Net Terms


Free of charters’ commission.


Net Tonnage


Net tonnage (often abbreviated as NT, N.T. or nt) is a calculated representation of a the internal volume of a ship’s cargo holds.

It is expressed in ‘tons’

Net tons


Net tons


Net Weight


Weight of the goods alone without any immediate wrappings, e.g., the weight of the contents of a tin can without the weight of the can.


Neutral Body


A group which operates within the framework of a rate conference. Established by the member carriers to act as a self-policing force to seek out malpractices and other tariff violations.

The neutral body has authority to scrutinise all documents kept by the carriers and the carriers’ personnel. Has right of entry to all areas of the carriers’ facilities, including desks, briefcases, etc. Violations found are reported to the membership, and significant penalties are assessed. Repeated offences are subject to escalating penalties. Revenue from penalties is used to support the cost of the neutral body’s activity.




Short rope used to bind a cable to the ‘messenger’ (a moving line propelled by the capstan) so that the cable is dragged along too (used where the cable is too large to be wrapped round the capstan itself). During the raising of an anchor the nippers were attached and detached from the (endless) messenger by the ship’s boys. Hence the term for small boys: ‘nippers’.


Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NK)


(? ?????????, Zaidan-h?jin Nippon Kaiji Ky?kai); a ship classification society. It is also known by the brand name ClassNK or often in the industry as just CNK. It is a not for profit society dedicated to ensuring the safety of life and property at sea, and the prevention of pollution of the marine environment.

By the end of December 2007, the Society had 6,793 ships totalling 152.22 million gross tons under class. This figure represents approximately 20 percent of the world merchant fleet currently under class.

Although based in Japan, ClassNK has worldwide representation through a network of exclusive surveyor offices.


No room to swing a cat


The entire ship’s company was expected to witness floggings, assembled on deck. If it was very crowded, the bosun might not have room to swing the ‘cat o’ nine tails’ (the whip).


Nomenclature of the Customs Cooperation Council


The Customs tariff used by most countries worldwide. It was formerly known as the Brussels Tariff Nomenclature and is the basis of the commodity coding system known as the Harmonised System.


Non-Tariff Barriers


Economic, political, administrative or legal impediments to trade other than duties, taxes and import quotas.


Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier


A firm that offers the same services as an ocean carrier, but which does not own or operate a vessel.

NVOCCs usually act as consolidators, accepting small shipments (LCL) and consolidating them into full container-loads. They then act as a shipper, tendering the containers to ocean common carriers. They are required to file tariffs with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, and are subject to the same laws and statutes that apply to primary common carriers.


Norske Veritas


Norwegian classification society.For more information see Det Norske.


North American free trade agreement


A free trade agreement comprising the USA, Canada, and Mexico.




The front of a container or trailer – opposite to the tail where the doors are.




Cargo which has been booked but does not arrive in time to be loaded before the vessel sails. For more information see Windy Booking.


Not elsewhere classified


Not elsewhere classified


Not elsewhere mentioned


Not elsewhere mentioned


Not elsewhere specified


If no rate for the specific commodity shipped appears in the tariff, then a general class rate (for example, ‘printed matter NES’) will apply. Such rates usually are higher than rates for specific commodities.


Not morespecifically described


Not morespecifically described


Not otherwise enumerated


Not otherwise enumerated


Not otherwise herein provided


Not otherwise herein provided


Not otherwise indexed


Not otherwise indexed


Not otherwise indicated by number/name


Not otherwise indicated by number/name


Not otherwise specified


‘Cargo N.O.S.’ signifies a rate for cargo that is not mentioned elsewhere under its own name.


Notify Party


The party to be notified of arrival of goods.



The material used for caulking hulls, often containing hemp picked from old untwisted ropes.


Ocean and rail
(O. & R.)


Ocean and rail


Ocean Bill of Lading
(Ocean BL)


A document indicating that the exporter will consign a shipment to an international carrier for transportation to a specified foreign market and indicates the terms of the contract of carriage. The ocean B/L serves as a collection document. If it is a straight B/L, the foreign buyer can obtain the shipment from the carrier by simply showing proof of identity. If it is a negotiable B/L, the buyer must first pay for the goods, post a bond, surrender the original B/L or meet other conditions agreeable to the seller.

An ‘OBL’ is not an Ocean B/L, but an Original B/L.




An ocean (from Greek ???????, Okeanos (Oceanus)) is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface, an area of some 361 million square kilometers (139.5 million square miles), is covered by ocean; a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.

Pacific Ocean

Atlantic Ocean

Indian Ocean

Southern Ocean, sometimes subsumed as the southern portions of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans

Arctic Ocean, sometimes considered a sea of the Atlantic


Office of first entry


This is the customs office at the first point of entry into the customs territory of the Community where ENS must be submitted.


Office of subsequent entry.


When the Office of First Entry (OoFe) decides to transfer the risk to another Member State’s customs.


Oilskins or oilies


Foul-weather clothing worn by sailors.


On Board


Cargo that has been loaded on board a combined transport mode of conveyance. Used to satisfy the requirements of a letter of credit, in the absence of an express requirement to the country.




Inland freight movement on the importer’s side.


One Stop Shop


An organisation, which provides all needed requirements in one location.


Open Account


A trade arrangement in which goods are shipped to a foreign buyer without guarantee of payment.


Open Insurance Policy


A marine insurance policy that applies to all shipments made by an exporter over a period of time rather than to one shipment only.


Open Policy


A cargo insurance policy that is an open contract; i.e., it provides protection for all an exporter’s shipments afloat or in transit within a specified geographical trade area for an unlimited period of time, until the policy is cancelled by the insured or by the insurance company. It is ‘open’ because the goods that are shipped are also detailed at that time. This is usually shown in a document called a marine insurance certificate.


Open Registry


A term used in place of ‘flag of convenience’ or ‘flag of necessity’ to denote registry in a country which offers favourable tax, regulatory, and other incentives to ship owners from other nations.


Open Sea


The water area of the open coast seaward of the ordinary low-water mark, or seaward of inland waters.


Open Sided Container


A container with frames with wire-mesh at the sides covered by means of a tarpaulin, which can be dropped down to give unrestricted access to the sides of the container for loading or discharging.


Open Top


A container fitted with a solid removable roof or with a tarpaulin roof that can be loaded or unloaded from the top.


Optimum Cube


The highest level of cube utilisation that can be achieved when loading cargo into a container.


Optional Cargo


Cargo of which the final destination is not known at the moment of booking, but will be indicated during its transport.


Optional Port


A port of which it is not known whether or not a vessel during will make a call during a voyage.


Order notify or own name


Order notify or own name


Order of


Order of




A bill of lading term to provide surrender of the original bill of lading before freight is released; usually associated with a shipment covered under a letter of credit.




North American Great Lakes term for a vessel primarily used in the transport of iron ore.


Organisation of economic cooperation and development


Headquartered in Paris with membership consisting of the World’s Developed Nations.


Orient Overseas Container Line


A Hong Kong-based container shipping and logistics service company.

It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orient Overseas (International) Limited (OOIL). OOCL was founded by C. Y. Tung In 1947 as the Orient Overseas Line. It changed its name to Orient Overseas Container Line in 1969, when it began the process of containerisation.

In the past, all important or large ships of the OOCL had names that began with the word ‘Seawise’, which was a pun on C. Y. Tung’s initials.




A location where shipment begins its movement at cargo’s expense.


Orlop deck


The lowest deck of a ship of the line. The deck covering in the hold.


Out Gate


A transaction or interchange that occurs at the time a container leaves a rail or water terminal.




Towards either the port side or starboard side of a ship.


Outboard motor


A motor mounted externally on the transom of a small boat. The boat may be steered by twisting the whole motor.




The lower part of a sterndrive (qv).




A line used to control the shape of a sail.




Cargo that exceeds the dimensions of standard containers. Overheight cargo can be loaded in open top containers (without the tarpaulin cover). Over-width and over-length cargo must be loaded on flatrack or platform containers. Totally over-dimension cargo can only be loaded as breakbulk.


Out-of-Gauge Cargo


Cargo which exceeds the normal dimensions of a 20′ or 40′ container, e.g. overlength, overwidth, overheight, or combinations thereof.


Outside diameter


Outside diameter


Outward bound


To leave the safety of a port, heading for the open ocean.


Over, short or damaged
(O.S. & D.)


This is usually discovered at the cargo unloading stage.




To sail downwind directly at another ship, stealing the wind from its sails.




Dangerously steep and breaking seas due to opposing currents and wind in a shallow area, or strong currents over a shallow rocky bottom.




Hauling the buntline ropes over the sails to prevent them from chaffing.




The ‘ceiling,’ or, essentially, the bottom of the deck above you.


Overheight Cargo


Cargo stowed in an open-top container; projects above the uppermost level of the roof struts.


Overlength Cargo


Cargo exceeding the standard length of an ISO container.




The term for a ship which tacks; meaning to hold its course for too long.




A situation where there are too many ships generally or in a particular trade for the level of available cargoes.




A vessel which has capsized or foundered.


Overwidth Cargo


Cargo exceeding the standard width of an ISO container.




Traditional Royal Navy term for the Captain; a survival from the days when privately-owned ships were often hired for naval service.


Owner Code


Standard Carrier Abbreviation Code identifying an individual common carrier. For more information see SCAC Code.


Owner’s risk


Owner’s risk


Owner’s risk of becoming wet


Owner’s risk of becoming wet


Owner’s risk of breakage


Owner’s risk of breakage


Owner’s risk of deteriration
(O.R. Det.)


Owner’s risk of deteriration


Owner’s risk of fire or freezing


Owner’s risk of fire or freezing


Owner’s risk of leakage


Owner’s risk of leakage

P & I Club


A mutual association of shipowners who provide protection against liabilities by means of contributions. The members of the Club share each other’s liabilities; the insurer also being the assured.

At present, there are less than 20 P&I Clubs in operation. The major Clubs have joined the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs, forming a pool for reinsurance purposes, as well as giving attention to problems of general concern to members.

The major Clubs are in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Japan and the United States of America.




PSA International Pte Ltd is the second largest port operator in the world. The company’s flagship operations are PSA Singapore Terminals, PSA HNN and PSA Marine. In total, PSA operates 28 port projects in 16 countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas, with a global capacity of 111 million TEUs over 66km of quay length.

The Port of Singapore Authority was formed on April 1st, 1964 to take over the functions, assets and liabilities of the Singapore Harbour Board. On August 25th, 1997, a parliamentary bill was passed to corporatise the Port of Singapore Authority, and PSA Corporation Ltd (simplified Chinese: ???????????) was corporatised on October 1st, 1997. PSA restructured in December 2003, with PSA International Pte Ltd (simplified Chinese: PSA??????????) becoming the main holding company for the PSA Group of companies.




Any physical piece of cargo in relation to transport consisting of the contents and its packing for the purpose of ease of handling by manual or mechanical means.

The final product of the packing operation consisting of the packing and its contents to facilitate manual or mechanical handling.


Packed weight


Packed weight


Packing List


An itemised list of commodities with marks/numbers but no cost values indicated.


Paired Ports


A US Customs program wherein at least two designated Customs ports will enter cargo that arrives at either port without the necessity of an inbound document.




A platform (usually two-deck), with or without sides, on which a number of packages or pieces may be loaded to facilitate handling by a lift truck.


Pallet Extender


A metal or cardboard device, designed to increase pallet capacity.


Panamax Size


‘Panamax ships’ are the largest ships that can pass through the Panama Canal. The size is limited by the dimensions of the lock chambers and the depth of the water in the canal.

Panamax is determined principally by the dimensions of the canal’s lock chambers, each of which is 110 ft (33.53 m) wide by 1,050 ft (320.04 m) long, and 85 ft (25.91 m) deep.

Panamax is determined principally by the dimensions of the canal’s lock chambers, each of which is 110 ft (33.53 m) wide by 1,050 ft (320.04 m) long, and 85 ft (25.91 m) deep.

Length: 965 ft (294.13 m)

Beam (width): 106 ft (32.31 m)

Draft: 39.5 ft (12.04 m) in tropical fresh water (the salinity and temperature of water affect its density, and hence how deep a ship will float in the water)

Air draft: 190 ft (57.91 m) measured from the waterline to the vessel’s highest point

A Panamax cargo ship would typically have a DWT of 65,000-80,000 tonnes and a maximum cargo intake of 52,500 tonnes.

Work is currently underway, however, to increase size of vessels able to navigate the Panama Canal, with the installation of a third set of locks 427 metres long and 55 metres wide. Upon completion , the canal’s capacity will have doubled, and estimates suggest boxships of approximately 12,000 TEU-size will be able to traverse its length (typically that number stands at around 5,000 TEU).




The pulsation in and out of the bow and stern plating as the ship alternately rises and plunges deep into the water.


Paper Rate


A published rate that is never assessed because no freight moves under it.


Paperless Release


Under ABI, certain commodities from low-risk countries not designated for examination may be released through an ABI-certified broker without the actual submission of documentation.




A method of lifting a roughly cylindrical object such as a spar. One end of a rope is made fast above the object, a loop of rope is lowered and passed around the object, which can be raised by hauling on the free end of rope.


Parcel Receipt


An arrangement whereby a steamship company, under rules and regulations established in the freight tariff of a given trade, accepts small packages at rates below the minimum bill of lading, and issues a parcel receipt instead of a bill of lading.




A movable loop or collar, used to fasten a yard or gaff to its respective mast. Parrels still allow the spar to be raised or lowered and swivel around the mast. They can be made of wire or rope and fitted with beads to reduce friction.


Part brass rags


A colloquial term used to describe the act of falling out with a friend. From the days when cleaning materials were shared between sailors.


Participating Carrier


A carrier participating in a tariff and who therefore applies the rates, charges, routing and regulations of the tariff.


Particular Average (1)


Marine Insurance term; ‘Average’ in maritime commerce signifies the damages or expenses resulting from the accidents of navigation.

Average is either general or particular. General average arises when sacrifices have been made, or expenditures incurred, for the preservation of the ship, cargo and freight, from some peril of the sea or from its effects. It implies a subsequent contribution, from all the parties concerned, rateably to the values of their respective interests, to make good the loss thus occasioned.

Particular average is the opposite to this: it arises where damage is sustained by a ship, cargo, or freight but is borne only by the owner of the damaged property and not recompensed by contribution from all interests in the venture.


Particular average


Particular average




A party responsible for the payment as evidenced by the given instrument. Under letters of credit, the payer is the party on whom the draft is drawn; usually the drawee bank.




Filling a seam (with caulking or pitch), lubricating the running rigging; paying with slush (q.v.), protecting from the weather by covering with slush.




The revenue-producing load carried by a means of transport.




The officer responsible for all money matters in Royal Navy ships including the paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools and spare parts. For more information see Purser.


Per Diem


USA; Latin meaning ‘per day.’ A charge made by one transportation line against another for the use of its equipment, namely the container and its chassis.

The charge is based on a fixed rate per day (which is already the case for the related Demurrage, Detention and Storage).


Perils of the Sea


The causes of loss for which the carrier is not legally liable (i.e. acts of God). These are regarded as elemental risks of ocean transport.


Perishable Cargo


Cargo that is subject to decay or deterioration.


Petroleum, oil and lubricants


Petroleum, oil and lubricants


Phytosanitary Inspection Certificate


A certificate issued by the US Department of Agriculture to satisfy import regulations of foreign countries; indicates that a US shipment has been inspected and found free from harmful pests and plant diseases.




The act of calling for freight by truck at the consignor’s shipping platform.




The structure to which a vessel is secured for the purpose of loading and unloading cargo.


Pier-head jump


The scenario of a sailor being drafted to a warship at the last minute, just before she sails.




A shipment loaded into a container at the pier or terminal, then to the consignee’s facility.




Containers loaded at port of loading and discharged at port of destination.


Piggy Packer


A mobile container handling crane used to load/unload containers to/from railcars.




A transportation agreement in which truck trailers with their loads are moved by train to a destination. This arrangement is also known as Rail Pegs.




As used in marine insurance policies, the term denotes petty thievery, the taking of small parts of a shipment, as opposed to the theft of a whole shipment or large unit. Many ordinary marine insurance policies do not cover against pilferage, and when this coverage is desired, it must be added to the policy.




The vessel’s navigator. An especially knowledgeable person qualified to navigate a vessel through difficult waters, e.g. harbour pilot etc.


Pipe (Bos’n’s), or a bos’n’s call


A whistle used by Boatswains (bosuns or bos’ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube which directs the breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high pitched notes.

The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.


Pipe down


A signal on the bosun’s pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.


Piping the side


A salute on the bos’n’s pipe(s) performed in the company of the deck watch on the starboard side of the quarterdeck or at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship’s Captain, senior officers and honoured visitors.




A vessel’s motion, rotating about the beam/transverse axis, causing the fore and aft ends to rise and fall repetitively.




To capsize a boat end over end, rather than by rolling over.




A particular street address or other designation of a factory, store, warehouse, place of business, private residence, construction camp or the like, at a point.


Place of Acceptance


See Place of Receipt.


Place of Delivery


A place where cargo leaves the care and custody of the carrier.


Place of Despatch


A name and address specifying where goods are collected or taken over by the carrier (i.e. if other than consignor).


Place of Receipt


A location where cargo enters the care and custody of carrier.


Place of Rest


The term ‘Place of Rest’, as used in the Containerized Cargo Rules, means the location on the floor, dock, platform or doorway at the CFS to which cargo is first delivered by shipper or agent thereof.




The scenario when a fast-moving vessel skims over the water instead of pushing through it.




The preparation of the discharge/loading of a vessel at the port.


Platform (Container)


A truck or trailer without ends, sides or top but with only the (reinforced) floor of an ISO container.


Plimsoll Mark


A series of horizontal lines painted on the outside of a ship marking the level which must remain above the surface of the water for the vessel’s stability.

The purpose of a ‘load line’ is to ensure that a ship has sufficient freeboard and thus sufficient reserve buoyancy. The freeboard of commercial vessels is measured between the lowest point of the uppermost continuous deck at side and the waterline and this must not be less than the freeboard marked on the Load Line Certificate issued to that ship. All commercial ships, other than in exceptional circumstances, have a load line symbol painted amidships on each side of the ship. This symbol must also be permanently marked, so that if the paint wears off it remains visible. The load line makes it easy for anyone to determine if a ship has been overloaded. The exact location of the Load Line is calculated and/or verified by a Classification Society and that society issues the relevant certificates.

This symbol, also called an international load line or Plimsoll line, indicates the maximum safe draft, and therefore the minimum freeboard for the vessel in various operating conditions.

In the 1860s, after increased loss of ships due to overloading, a British MP, Samuel Plimsoll, took up the load line cause. A Royal commission on unseaworthy ships was established in 1872, and in 1876 the United Kingdom Merchant Shipping Act made the load line mark compulsory, although the positioning of the mark was not fixed by law until 1894. In 1906, laws were passed requiring foreign ships visiting British ports to be marked with a load line. It was not until 1930 (The 1930 Load Line Convention) that there was international agreement for universal application of load line regulations.

In 1966 a Load Lines Convention was held in London which re-examined and amended the 1930 rules. The 1966 Convention has since seen amendments in 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1995 and 2003.

The letters on the Load line marks have the following meanings:

TF – Tropical Fresh Water

F – Fresh Water

T – Tropical Seawater

S – Summer Temperate Seawater

W – Winter Temperate Seawater

WNA – Winter North Atlantic


Poincaré gold franc


One p.g.f. is 65.6 milligrams of gold of millesimal fineness 900 (900 parts pure gold out of 1,000). It was first defined by the French Law of June 25th, 1928 and named after Raymond Poincaré, the French Prime Minister who stabilised the currency of France. The p.g.f. is worth approximately 13 cents Cdn. or 10 cents U.S. approximately.




A particular city, town, village or other community which is treated as a unit for the application of rates.


Point of Origin


The station at which a shipment is received by a carrier from the shipper.


Point to Point Transport


See House to House Transport.


Pomerene Act


Also known as (USA) Federal Bill of Lading Act of 1916. U.S.A. federal law enacting conditions by which a B/L may be issued. Penalties for issuing Bs/L containing false data include monetary fines and/or imprisonment.




A flat-bottomed vessel used as a ferry, barge, car float or a float moored alongside a jetty or a ship to facilitate boarding.




A common supply of containers or of chassis available to the shippers. Units belong to several carriers who share them amongst themselves to alleviate the ‘peak and valley’ effect on the demand for equipment.


Pool (container)


A permanent positioning of one or more containers at a location to facilitate continuous volume loading.


Pool Agreement


An alliance of companies to share profit from joint (pooled) operations under a certain ratio formula. The shared use of, for example, equipment by a number of companies, which make together the investments in the equipment mentioned.




The aft part of a vessel where the steering engine is located.


Poop deck


A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.




Swamped by a high, following sea.





(Port side) Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly Larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.

A harbour with piers or docks.

Opening in a ship’s side for handling freight.


Port arrival immediate release and enforcement determination


A US Customs program that allows entry documentation for an import shipment to be filed at one location, usually an inland city, while the merchandise is cleared by Customs at the port of entry, normally a seaport.

Cities where there is a natural flow of cargo are actually ‘paired’ in the program; e.g., Atlanta, an inland city, is linked with Savannah, a seaport. The program was tested in ’87-’88, and became generally available from mid- ’88.


Port Authority


A government body (city, county or state) which in international shipping maintains various airports and/or ocean cargo pier facilities, transit sheds, loading equipment warehouses for air cargo, etc. Has the power to levy dockage and wharfage charges, landing fees, etc.


Port of Call


Port where a ship discharges or receives traffic.


Port of Discharge


The port where the cargo is actually discharged (unloaded) from the sea- (ocean-) going vessel.


Port of discharge/destination


Port of discharge/destination


Port of Entry


Port where cargo is unloaded and enters a country.


Port of Exit


Place where cargo loaded and leaves a country.


Port of Loading (1)


Port where cargo is transferred from one vessel to another.


Port of loading


Port of loading


Port Tack


When sailing with the wind coming from the port side of the vessel, ships must give way to boats on starboard tack.


Porthole or port


An opening in a ship’s side, especially a round one for admitting light and air, fitted with thick glass and, often, a hinged metal cover, a window.




The transport of empty equipment from a depot to a shipper’s premises, or from a consignee’s premises back to a depot as the empty leg of a carrier haulage transport.


Power of Attorney


A document that authorises a customs broker to sign all customs documents on behalf of an importer.


Pratique Certificate


A document that lifts the temporary quarantine of a vessel, granted by a Health Officer.




Preliminary advice that a letter of credit has been established in the form of a brief authenticated wire message. It is not an operative instrument and is usually followed by the actual letter of credit.




Inland freight movement on the exporter’s side.




The carrier by which the goods are moved prior to its main transport.




A process employed in the shipment of citrus fruits and other perishable commodities. The fruit is packed and placed in a cold room from which the heat is gradually extracted. The boxes of fruit are packed in containers that have been thoroughly cooled and transported through to destination without opening the doors.




Freight paid by the shipper to the carrier when merchandise is tendered for shipment. It is a non-refundable deposit even if the merchandise does not arrive at its intended destination.


Press Gang


A formed body of personnel from a ship of the Royal Navy (either a ship seeking personnel for its own crew or from a ‘press tender’ seeking men for a number of ships) that would identify and force (press) men, usually merchant sailors into service on naval ships usually against their will.


Preventer (gybe preventer, jibe preventer)


A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat’s deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent or moderate the effects of an accidental jibe.


Prima Facie


The Latin meaning for ‘at first sight’. This was a term frequently encountered in foreign trade. When a steamship company issues a clean bill of lading, it acknowledges that the goods were received ‘in apparent good order and condition’ and this is said by the courts to constitute prima facie evidence of the conditions of the containers; that is, if nothing to the contrary appears, it must be inferred that the cargo was in good condition when received by the carrier.




The person for whom another acts as agent.


Principal Warfare Officer


One of a number of Warfare branch specialist officers.




A privately-owned ship authorised by a national power (by means of a letter of marque) to conduct hostilities against an enemy. Also called a private man of war.


Pro Forma Invoice


A Latin term meaning ‘For the sake of form’. An invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value and specifications (weight, size, etc.). Pre-requisite for the establishment of a Letter of Credit.


Pro Rata


A Latin term meaning ‘In proportion.’


Project Cargo


Quantity of goods connected to the same project and often carried on different moments and from various places. The term has also become synonymous with breakbulk cargo – i.e. cargo that is too large to be loaded onto a single flat-rack or platform.


Project Rate


Single tariff item, established to move multiple commodities needed for a specified project, usually construction.


Proof of Delivery (1)


The receipt signed by the consignee upon delivery.


Proof of delivery


A document required from the carrier or driver for proper payment.


Propeller walk or prop walk


The tendency for a propeller to push the stern sideways. In theory, a right hand propeller in reverse will walk the stern to port.


Proper Shipping Name


A name to be used to describe particular goods on all documents and notifications and, if appropriate, on the goods. i.e. no brand names. For more information see Harmonized Code.


Protection & indemnity


A marine insurance term.


Protection and indemnity insurance
(P & I Insurance)


Protection and Indemnity Insurance is mutual insurance which covers shipowners’ liability to third parties for damage to their ship or cargo, as well as statutory liabilities such as pollution and wreck removal, it but does not cover direct losses to the shipowner’s own ship or cargo.

Four classes of coverage are included in P&I:

1. Protection, which covers a shipowner for claims paid in regard to liability for loss of life, personal injury, damage to fixed or floating objects, wreck removal and one-fault collision in liability;

2. Indemnity, which reimburses the shipowner for indemnity given to owners of damaged or lost cargo;

3.War risks;

4. Freight War Risks.




A poetical alternative term for bows, the front of a ship.


Pulp Temperature


The procedure where a carrier tests the temperature of the internal flesh of refrigerated commodities to ensure that the temperature at the time of shipment conforms to prescribed temperature ranges.




Trucking; a short semi-trailer used jointly with a dolly and another semi-trailer to create a twin trailer.




A mechanical method of increasing force, such as a tackle or lever.




Purser; the person who buys, stores and sells all stores on board ships, including victuals, rum and tobacco. Originally a private merchant, latterly a warrant officer. Also, in modern use, a term for the Navy in general (pursers) or a sailor in particular (a purser).

Quality (ISO 8402)


The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.

Note: The ISO 9000 standards on quality management and quality assurance consists of four standards:

9000 guidelines for selection and use.

9001 model for quality assurance in design/development.

9002 model for quality assurance in production and installation.

9003 model for quality assurance in final inspection and test, and

9004 guidelines for quality management and quality system elements, part two are guidelines for services.


Quantity Discount


A proportional reduction of a rate based on quantity.




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




The aftermost deck of a warship. In the age of sail, the quarterdeck was the preserve of the ship’s officers.




A structure attached to land to which a vessel is moored. For more information see also Pier and Dock.




The dock or platform used to fasten vessels whilst in situ.


Queen’s (King’s) Regulations


The standing orders governing the British Royal Navy issued in the name of the current monarch.




A wedge-shaped piece of timber used to secure barrels against movement.




A system of controlling imports, exports or production by specifying a certain limitation. The quantity of goods that may be imported without restriction or additional duties or taxes.




Amount stated as the price according to tariff for certain services to be provided or issued to a customer with specification on conditions for carriage.


Quotation Expiration Date


The date as from which a quotation price is no longer valid.

Rabbet or rebate


A groove cut in wood to form part of a joint.




Acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. An electronic system designed to transmit radio signals and receive reflected images of those signals from a ‘target’ in order to determine the bearing and distance to the ‘target’.


Radar reflector


A special fixture fitted to a vessel or incorporated into the design of certain aids to navigation to enhance their ability to reflect radar energy. In general, these fixtures will materially improve the visibility for use by vessels with radar.


Rag Top


A slang term for an open-top trailer or container with a tarpaulin cover.


Rail Car


A wheeled wagon used for the carriage of cargo by rail.


Rail Division


The amount of money an ocean carrier pays to the railroad for overland charges.


Railand canal
(R & C)


Railand canal




A railroad terminal where containers are received or delivered and trains are loaded or discharged. Originally, trailers moved onto the rearmost flatcar via a ramp and driven into position in a technique known as ‘circus loading.’ Most modern rail facilities use lifting equipment to position containers onto the flatcars.




A movement where the load initiates at an origin rail ramp and terminates at a consignee’s door.




A movement of equipment from an origin rail ramp to a destination rail ramp only.


Range lights


Two lights associated to form a range (a line formed by the extension of a line connecting two charted points) which often, but not necessarily, indicates the channel centreline. The front range light is the lower of the two, and nearer to the mariner using the range. The rear light is higher and further from the mariner.




The price of a transport service.

Quantity, amount or degree measured or applied.


Rate Basis


A formula of the specific factors or elements (weight, measure, equipment type, package, box, etc.) that control the making of a rate.




Rope ladders permanently rigged from bulwarks and tops to the mast to enable access to top masts and yards.




Sailing across the wind: from about 60° to about 160° off the wind. Reaching consists of ‘close reaching’ (about 60° to 80°), ‘beam reaching’ (about 90°) and ‘broad reaching’ (about 120° to 160°). For more information see also beating and running.


Ready about


A call to indicate imminent tacking. For more information see going about.




Under ICC and common law, reasonableness is the requirement that a rate not be higher than is necessary to reimburse the carrier for the actual cost of transporting the traffic, allowing a fair profit.




A deduction taken from a set payment or charge. As a rebate is given after payment of the full amount has been made, it differs from a discount which is deducted in advance of the payment. In foreign trade, a full or partial rebate may be given on import duties paid on goods which are later re-exported.

USA: An illegal form of discounting or refunding that has the net effect of lowering the tariff price.








Changing the consignee or destination on a bill of lading while the shipment is still in transit. Diversion has substantially the same meaning.


Reconsolidation point


A location where loose or other non-containerised cargo is regrouped for further carriage.


Red Clause Letter of Credit


A letter of credit that allows the exporter to receive a percentage of the face value of the letter of credit in advance of shipment. This enables the exporter to purchase inventory and pay other costs associated with producing and preparing the export order.


Red Duster


The traditional nickname for the Red Ensign, the civil ensign (flag) carried by civilian vessels from the United Kingdom.


Red Label


The label required on shipments of flammable articles.




Reef: To temporarily reduce the area of a sail exposed to the wind, usually to guard against adverse effects of strong wind or to slow the vessel.

Reef: Rock or coral, possibly only revealed at low tide, shallow enough that the vessel will at least touch, if not go aground.


Reef points


Small lengths of cord attached to a sail, used to secure the excess fabric after reefing.




Long pieces of rough canvas sewed across the sails to give them additional strength.




An insulated container with provisions for temperature control, either self-contained or attached (Gen set, meaning GENerator SET). They come in several ISO lengths or high cube, same as standard boxes.

‘Reefer Services’ include power supply and temperature monitoring.




Ropes employed in the operation of reefing.








The repayment to the purchaser of the total charge or a portion of that charge for unused carriage.




The record of a ship’s ownership and nationality as listed with the maritime authorities of a country; also, the compendium of such individual ship’s registrations.

The registration of a ship provides it with a nationality and makes it subject to the laws of the country in which it is registered (the flag state); regardless of the nationality of the ship’s ultimate owner.

For more information see also Captive Register, Flag of Convenience Register, Internal Register.


Register Ton


The unit of measurement for the internal capacity of a vessel whereby one register ton equals 100 cubic feet (2.83 cubic meter).

The gross (bruto) tonnage comprises of all spaces below the main (tonnage) deck and the enclosed spaces above the main (tonnage) deck less exempted spaces.

The net tonnage consists of the gross tonnage less exemptions like ballast tanks, engine room, living quarters etc.

The register tonnage is mentioned on the tonnage certificate.


Registered tonnage


Registered tonnage


Registro Italiano Navale


Founded in Genoa in 1861 under the name REGISTRO ITALIANO, by the ‘Associazione della Mutua Assicurazione Marittima’ (Mutual Marine Insurance Association). This organisation was established in Genoa in 1857 by ship managers and shipowners (or ‘ship shareholders’), to cover risks related to loss and/or damage of the hull and rigging of sailing ships, to meet the needs of Italian maritime operators, as had already occurred in Great Britain and France.

Since its foundation, Registro Italiano Navale has been an instrument of support for economic development in the areas where it operates. Over 140 years later, the role of RINA has not changed, but it has expanded to meet the needs of a constantly evolving international economy.


Related Points


A group of points to which rates are made the same as, or in relation to, rates to other points in group.


Relative bearing


A bearing relative to the direction of the ship: the clockwise angle between the ship’s direction and an object. For more information see also Absolute bearing and Bearing.




The transfer of containers from one ship to another.


Released Value Not Exceeding (1)


Used to limit the value of goods transported. The limitation refers to carrier liability when paying a claim for lost or damaged goods.


Released value not exceeding


Usually used to limit the value of goods transported. The limitation refers to carrier liability when paying a claim for lost or damaged goods.


Request for proposal


Request for proposal


Request for quotation


Request for quotation




Allotment in advance of space or weight capacity. Also referred to as ‘Booking’.




For many reasons (ship’s balance, change of destination from the shipper, operational convenience), a container already loaded on board a vessel might be re-stowed, which means that, at some port along the route, it will be moved from a previous stowage location on board the vessel to another stowage location on board the same vessel. This can sometimes be done on the vessel (ship to ship shifting), but more frequently done via shore/the pier (ship to pier shifting).

Obviously there is a cost involved for the stevedores’ work and, if due to a change of destination by the shipper, that cost might be charged to the cargo.


Restricted articles


Articles handled only under special conditions.




Action taken by a country to restrain its imports from another country that has increased a tariff or imposed other measures that adversely affects the first country’s exports.


Return pool


A place where equipment is returned.


Reverse IPI


An inland point provided by an all-water carrier’s through bill of lading in the US by first discharging the container in an East Coast port.


Revocable Letter of Credit


For more information see Letter of Credit.




The system of masts and lines on ships and other sailing vessels.


Righting couple


The force which tends to restore a ship to equilibrium once a heel has altered the relationship between her centre of buoyancy and her centre of gravity.




The rim or ‘eyebrow’ above a port-hole or scuttle.


Riots and civil commotions


Riots and civil commotions


Riots, civil commtions and strikes
(RCC & S)


Riots, civil commtions and strikes


Ro /Ro


An abbreviated term for roll on-roll off. A method of ocean cargo service, using a vessel with ramps, which allows wheeled vehicles to be loaded and discharged without cranes. This term is also used to refer to this type of cargo as well.




The anchor line, rope or cable connecting the anchor chain to the vessel. For more information see Anchor Rode.




A vessel’s motion rotating from side to side, about the fore-aft/longitudinal axis. List (qv) is a lasting tilt in the roll direction.

To re-book the cargo to a later vessel.




The side-to-side (athwartship) motion of a vessel.




A number of pulleys, engaged to confine the yard to the weather side of the mast; this tackle is much used in a rough sea.


Ropes (The)


The lines in the rigging.


Rope’s end


A summary punishment device.

Shipping Act of 1984


USA; effective June 18th, 1984, describes the law covering water transportation in the US foreign trade. The passage of the Shipping Act of 1984 brought about a major deregulatory change in the regulatory regime facing shipping companies operating in the US foreign commerce. The subsequent passage of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, with its further deregulatory amendments and modifications to the Shipping Act of 1984 (which took effect on May 1st, 1999), represented another pro-market shift in shipping regulation.


Shipping Act of 1998


USA; amends the Act of 1984 to provide for confidential service contracts and other items.


Shipping Company


A group of persons jointly owning a ship and using it to gain profit from commercial marine shipments for joint account.


Shipping Order


A shipper’s instructions to carrier for forwarding goods; usually the triplicate copy of the bill of lading.




Barge Carriers: Ships designed to carry barges. Some are fitted to act as full container ships and can carry a varying number of barges and containers at the same time. At present, this class includes two types of vessels, LASH and Sea-Bee.

Bulk Carriers: All vessels designed to carry dry bulk cargo, as well as carriers with bulk cargoes such as grain, ore and oil.

Combination Passenger and Cargo Ships: Ships with a capacity for 13 or more passengers.

Freighters: Breakbulk vessels both refrigerated and unrefrigerated, containerships, partial containerships, roll-on/roll-off vessels, and barge carriers.

Full Containerships: Ships equipped with permanent container cells, with little or no space for other types of cargo.

General Cargo Carriers: Breakbulk freighters, car carriers, cattle carriers, pallet carriers and timber carriers.

Partial Containerships: Multipurpose containerships where one or more but not all compartments are fitted with permanent container cells. Remaining compartments are used for other types of cargo.

Roll-on/Roll-off vessels: Ships custom built to carry wheeled containers or trailers using interior ramps.

Tankers: Ships fitted with tanks to carry liquid cargo such as crude petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, liquified gasses (LNG & LPG), wine, molasses and similar product tanks.




Shallow water that is a hazard to a vessel’s navigation.


Shoal Draught


Shallow draught, making the vessel capable of sailing in unusually shallow water.




The land on or near a waterline such as a sea shore or lake shore.

The land; the seamen were serving on shore instead of in ships.

A prop or strut supporting the weight or flooring above it; the shores stayed upright during the earthquake.


Short Ton


US imperial measure : 2,000 lbs.




The negative difference between actual available or delivered quantity and the required quantity.




Cargo manifested but not loaded.


Shrink Wrap


Polyethylene or similar substance heat-treated and shrunk into an envelope around several units, thereby securing them as a single pack for presentation or to secure units on a pallet.




Standing rigging running from a mast to the sides of a ship.


Shuttle Service


The carriage back and forth over an often short route between two points.


Sick Bay


The compartment reserved for medical purposes.


Side Loader


A lift truck fitted with lifting attachments operating to one side for handling containers.


Side-Door Container


A container fitted with a rear door and a minimum of one side door.




A short railroad track connected with a main track by a switch to serve a warehouse or an industrial area.


Sight Draft


USA; a draft payable upon presentation to the drawee.


Single Administrative Document


A set of documents, replacing the various (national) forms for customs declaration within European Community, implemented on January 1st, 1988. The introduction of the SAD constitutes an intermediate stage in the abolition of all administrative documentation in intra-European Community trade in goods between member states.




A sound signal which uses electricity or compressed air to actuate either a disc or a cup shaped rotor.


Sister Ships


Ships built on the same design.




A particular platform or location for loading or unloading at a place.




A downward or sternward projection from the keel in front of the rudder. Protects the rudder from damage, and in bilge keelers may provide one ‘leg’ of a tripod on which the boat stands when the tide is out.




Similar to a pallet.




Battens, or a series of parallel runners, fitted beneath boxes or packages to raise them clear of the floor to permit easy access of forklift blades or other handling equipment.




The captain of a ship.




A sail set very high, above the royals. Such sails are only carried by a few ships.




A small, triangular sail, set above the skysail. Used in light winds on a few ships.




A wire or rope contrivance placed around cargo and used to load or discharge it to/from a vessel.


Slop chest


A ship’s store of merchandise, such as clothing, tobacco, etc., maintained aboard merchant ships for sale to the crew.




A segment of a container ship’s cell into which a container is loaded.


Slot Charter


A voyage charter whereby the shipowner agrees to place a certain number of container slots (TEU and/or FEU) at the charterer’s disposal.


Slow Steaming


Slow Steaming involves the operation of a container vessel at speeds significantly below its maximum speed. The benefits of Slow Steaming include decreasing both:

Fuel consumption of the vessel (resulting in bunker costs reduction); and

CO2 emissions (contributing towards environmental efficiency).

Full Speed for a container ship might typically be about 24 knots (generally 85-90% of engine capacity). Reducing vessel speed to about 18 knots represents Slow Steaming and further reduction to between 12 – 15 knots represents Super/Ultra Slow Steaming.

Apart from the above two benefits, Slow Steaming also enables carriers to absorb excess fleet capacity during periods of slack demand and also increased schedule reliability as more buffer is available to maintain the schedules in case of port congestions and bad weather.




A greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew’s meal.

In the Royal Navy it was a prerequisite of the cook who could sell it or exchange it (usually for alcohol) with other members of the crew. It could also be used for greasing parts of the running rigging of the ship and was therefore valuable to the master and bosun.


Slush Fund


The money obtained by the cook selling slush ashore. Used for the benefit of the crew (or the cook).


Small Bower (anchor)


The smaller of two anchors carried in the bow.




A form of brig where the gaff spanker or driver is rigged on a ‘snow mast’ a lighter spar supported in chocks close behind the main-mast.


Son of a gun


The space between the guns was used as a semi-private place for trysts with prostitutes and wives, which sometimes led to the birth of children with disputed parentage. Another claim is that the term’s origin resulted from firing a ship’s guns to hasten a difficult birth.




Sonar (originally an acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging) is a technique that uses sound propagation (usually underwater) to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels.

There are two kinds of sonar: active and passive.

Sonar may be used as a means of acoustic location and of measurement of the echo characteristics of ‘targets’ in the water.

For more information see echo sounding and ASDIC.




A term for measuring the depth of the water. This was traditionally done by swinging the lead, now more commonly by echo sounding.




A storm from the south west.

A type of waterproof hat with a wide brim over the neck, worn in storms.


Space Charter


A voyage charter whereby the shipowner agrees to place part of the vessel’s capacity at the charterer’s disposal.




On a square rigged ship, the spanker is regarded as a gaff rigged fore-and-aft sail set from and aft of the aftmost mast. Virtually all square rigs with multiple masts have at least one spanker, which is derived from the driver sail.




The aft-most mast of a fore-and-aft or gaff-rigged vessel such as schooners, barquentines, and barques. A full-rigged ship has a spanker sail but not a spanker-mast. For more information see Jigger-mast.




A wooden pole, in later years also an iron or steel pole, used to support various pieces of rigging and sails. The big five-masted full-rigged tall ship Preussen (German spelling: Preu�en) had crossed 30 steel yards, but only one wooden spar – the little gaff of its spanker sail.


Special Rate


A rate other than the normal rate.


Specific Commodity Rate


A rate commonly applied to narrowly specified commodities. It is usually granted in the case of relatively large shipments.




Finely-divided water swept from the crest of waves by strong winds.




A large sail flown in front of the vessel while heading downwind.


Spinnaker pole


A spar used to help control a spinnaker or other headsail.




The act of joining lines (ropes, cables etc.) by unravelling their ends and intertwining them to form a continuous line. You can form an eye or a knot by splicing.


Split Shipment


In case of indirect delivery through consolidation and if split shipment conditions occur then each split part of the shipment will be delivered in a different consignment but all consignments are identified by the same unique original shipment ID.




A charter with acquired capacity split for use among several clients.


Spontaneous Ignition Temperature


The lowest temperature at which a substance will start burning spontaneously without an external source of ignition.




Placing a container where it is required to be loaded or unloaded.




A piece of equipment designed to lift containers by their corner castings.


Square meal


A sufficient quantity of food. Meals on board ship were served to the crew on a square wooden plate in the harbour or at sea in good weather.

Food in the Royal Navy was invariably better or at least in greater quantity than that available to the average landsman. However, while square wooden plates were indeed used on board ship, there is no established link between them and this particular term. The OED gives the earliest reference from the US in the mid-19th century.


Squared away


Yards held rigidly perpendicular to their masts and parallel to the deck. This was rarely the best trim of the yards for efficiency but made a pretty sight for inspections and in the harbour. The term is applied to situations and to people figuratively to mean that all difficulties have been resolved or that the person is performing well and is mentally and physically prepared.


Squat Effect


It is the phenomenon by which a vessel moving quickly through shallow water creates an area of lowered pressure under its keel that reduces the ship’s buoyancy, particularly at the bow. The reduced buoyancy causes the ship to ‘squat’ lower in the water than would ordinarily be expected, and thus its effective draught is increased.




The force that holds a vessel upright or returns it to upright if keeled over. Weight in the lower hold is used to increase stability. A vessel is stiff if it has high stability or tender if it has low stability.

In a ship, stability is indicated by several characteristics. Initial stability is measured by the metacentric height; also known as ‘GM.’ If GM is low, the vessel makes long slow rolls, and is considered tender. When GM is too high, the vessel is considered stiff, and may return violently to the upright position when rolling, with possible damage to cargo and injury to passengers and crew.

Other stability considerations include the vessel’s range of stability, maximum righting arm, and the angle of heel at which the maximum righting arm occurs.




An identifiable amount of containers stowed in an orderly way in one specified place on an (ocean) terminal, container freight station, container yard or depot.


Stack Car


An articulated five-platform rail car that allows containers to be doubled stacked. A typical stack car holds ten, 40-foot equivalent units (FEUs).




To pile boxes, bags, containers etc. on top of each other.




A vertical post near a deck’s edge that supports life-lines. A timber fitted in between the frame heads on a wooden hull or a bracket on a steel vessel, approximately one metre high, to support the bulwark plank or plating and the rail.


Standard Industrial Classification


A standard numerical code used by the US government to classify products and services.


Standard International Trade Classification


A standard numeric code developed by the United Nations to classify commodities used in international trade, based on a hierarchy.


Standing Rigging


Rigging which is used to support masts and spars, and is not normally manipulated during normal operations; also known as ‘running rigging’.




Towards the right-hand side of a vessel facing forward. Starboard is denoted with a green light at night. The term is derived from the old steering oar or steerboard which preceded the invention of the rudder.


Starboard tack


When sailing with the wind coming from the starboard side of the vessel. It has the right of way over boats on port tack.




A rope used as a punitive device. For more information see Teazer and Togey.


Statute of Limitation


A law limiting the time in which claims or suits may be instituted.




Rigging running fore (forestay) and aft (backstay) from a mast to the hull.




A sail whose luff is attached to a forestay.


Steamship Agent


A duly appointed and authorised representative in a specified territory acting on behalf of a steamship line or lines and attending to all matters relating to the vessels owned by his principals.


Steering oar or steering board


A long, flat board or oar that went from the stern to well underwater, and was used to steer vessels before the invention of the rudder. Traditionally this would sit on the starboard side of a ship (the ‘steering board’ side).




The extension of a keel at the forward end of a ship.




The rear part of a ship, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter to the taffrail.


Stern chaserStern Tube


The tube under the hull designed to bear the tailshaft for propulsion (usually at stern).




A propeller drive system, similar to the lower part of an outboard motor extending below the hull of a larger power boat or yacht, but driven by an engine mounted within the hull. Unlike a fixed propeller (but like an outboard), the boat may be steered by twisting the drive. For more information see inboard motor and outboard motor.




The words stevedore, docker, dock labourer and longshoreman can have various waterfront-related meanings concerning loading and unloading ships, according to place and country.

The word ‘stevedore’ originated in Spain or Portugal, and entered the English language through its use by sailors. It started as a phonetic spelling of Spanish estibador or Portuguese estivador = ‘a man who stuffs’, here in the sense of ‘a man who loads ships’, which was the original meaning of ‘stevedore’; compare Latin st?p?re = ‘to stuff’.

In the United Kingdom, men who load and unload ships are usually called dockers while in the United States and Canada the term longshoreman, derived from ‘man-along-the-shore,’ is used. Before extensive use of container ships and shore-based handling machinery in the US, longshoremen referred exclusively to the dockworkers, while stevedores, in a separate trade union, worked on the ships, operating ship’s cranes and moving cargo.




A form of corporal punishment including a number of strikers or hits with a single rattan-made cane.


Stopper Knot


A knot tied in the end of a rope, usually to stop it passing through a hole; most commonly a figure-eight knot.




The logistics charge for the costs related to quay rent, charged on both the carrier’s equipment or the shipper’s equipment for containers staying on the ground idle. For more information see Demurrage, Detention, Per Diem.


Store-Door Delivery


The delivery of goods to a consignee’s place of business or warehouse by motor vehicle. The term refers to a complete package of delivery services performed by a carrier from origin to final consumption point; whether that be a retail, wholesale or other final distribution facility.


Store-Door Pick-up


Picking up a container from a carrier, delivering it to a merchant and returning the empty container; the portion of store-door delivery performed by the carrier’s trucker.




A marine term referring to loading freight into ships’ holds.


Stowage Instructions


Imperative details about the way certain cargo is to be stowed, given by the shipper or his agent. For instance, a shipper can request ‘Under Deck Stowage’ for greater security for the cargo.


Stowage Plan


A plan indicating the locations on the vessel of all the consignments for the benefit of stevedores and vessel’s officers.




An unwanted person who hides on board of a vessel or an aircraft to get free passage, to evade port officials.


Straddle Carrier


Mobile truck equipment with the capacity to lift a container within its own framework.


Straight (Consignment) Bill of Lading


A non-negotiable bill of lading which states a specific identity (Consignee) to whom the goods should be delivered.

For more information see Bill of Lading.


Straight Bill of Lading


A non-negotiable bill of lading which states a specific identity to whom the goods should be delivered.

As opposed to a ‘Made to Order’ BL.

For more information see Bill of Lading.




One of the overlapping boards in a clinker built hull.


Strikes, Riots, and Civil Commotions


An insurance clause referring to loss or damage directly caused by strikers, locked-out workmen, persons participating in labour disturbances, and riots of various kinds. The ordinary marine insurance policy does not cover this risk; coverage against it can be added only by endorsement.




The unloading of a container.




Long and narrow sails, used only in fine weather, on the outside of the large square sails.




The loading of a container.




To put in place of another, for example, when an insurance company pays a claim, it is placed in the same position as the payee with regard to any rights against others.


Sue & Labor Clause


A provision in marine insurance obligating the assured to do things necessary after a loss to prevent further loss and to act in the best interests of the insurer.




Suezmax is a naval architecture term for the largest ships capable of transiting the Suez Canal fully loaded, and is almost exclusively used in reference to tankers.

Since the canal has no locks, the only serious limiting factors are draft (maximum depth below waterline), and height due to the Suez Canal Bridge. The current channel depth of the canal allows for a maximum of 16 m (52.5 ft) of draft, meaning many fully laden supertankers are too deep to fit through, and either have to unload part of their cargo to other ships (‘transhipment’) or to a pipeline terminal before passing through, or alternatively avoid the Suez Canal and travel around Cape Agulhas instead.

The Suez Canal was deepened from 18m (60 ft) to 20.1 m (66 ft) in 2009, a suezmax vessel of up to 200,000 DWT or even more can easily pass through it. Also of note is the maximum head room�’air draft’�limitation of 68 m (223.1 ft), which is the height above water of the Suez Canal Bridge. There is also a width limitation of 70.1 m (230 ft), but only a handful of tankers exceed this size, and they are excluded from Suez by their draft in any case. The canal authority produces tables of width and acceptable draft, which are subject to change.


Sufferance Wharf


A wharf licensed and attended by Customs authorities.




An experienced person (officer) assigned by the charterer of a vessel to advise the management of the vessel and protect the interests of the charterer.




The amount charged to settle additional costs in ocean shipping (ex: CSC, BAF).


Surety Bond


A bond insuring against loss or damage or for the completion of obligations.


Surety Company


An insurance company.



A large bracket attached firmly to the deck, to which the foot of the mast is fixed. It has two sides or cheeks and a bolt forming the pivot around which the mast is raised and lowered.




A leg of the route of a sailing vessel, particularly in relation to tacking (qv) and to starboard tack and port tack (also qv).

Hard tack: qv.




Zig-zagging so as to sail directly towards the wind (and for some rigs also away from it).

Going about (qv).




A rail at the stern of the boat that covers the head of the counter timbers.




The rear of a container or trailer, where the doors are, opposite the front or nose.




A kind of metallic shafting (a rod of metal) to hold the propeller and connected to the power engine. When the tailshaft is moved, the propeller may also be moved for propulsion.


Taken aback


An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails ‘backwards’, causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.


Taking the wind out of his sails


To sail in a way that steals the wind from another ship. This term is also known as to ‘overbear’.




The operation of hauling aft the sheets, or drawing them in the direction of the ship’s stern.


Tally Sheet


The list of cargo, incoming and outgoing, checked by the tally clerk on dock.


Tank Container


A specialised liquid bulk container used for the transportation of fluids. It is essentially a big cylinder inside an ISO-sized frame made to allow stacking.

Some tanks carry only chemicals, some others only carry food-grade liquids (e.g. milk). Tank containers are mostly shipper-owned, operated by companies who specialise in the transportation of specific types of bulk liquids.




A tanker is a bulk carrier designed to transport liquid cargo, most often petroleum products. Oil tankers vary in size from small coastal vessels of 1,500 tons deadweight, through medium-sized ship of 60,000 tons, to the giant VLCCs (very large crude carriers).


Tare Mass of Container


For more information see Tare Weight of Containers below.


Tare Weight


The weight of packing material that is protecting the actual goods.


Tare Weight of Container


The mass of an empty container, including all fittings and appliances, associated with that particular type of container on its normal operating condition.




A document issued by a carrier setting forth applicable rules, rates, and charges for the movement of goods. It sets up a contract of carriage between the shipper, consignee, and carrier.

In international trade applications, the term also refers to a tax on imports (Customs duty).




Waterproof material, e.g. canvas, used to spread over cargo to protect it from getting wet.




A rope used as a punitive device.


Temperature Controlled Cargo


Any cargo requiring carriage under controlled temperature.


Temperature Recorder


A device used to record temperature variations in a reefer container while cargo is en route.




A small boat used to carry persons from shore to ship and back.

A colloquial term used to describe the condition of a ship having marginal stability.

To present for acceptance an offer (to tender a bid).




Time and date for the payment of a draft.




An assigned area in which containers are prepared for loading into a vessel, train, truck or airplane or are stacked immediately after discharge from a vessel, train, truck or airplane.


Terminal Handling Charge (1)


An additional charge for container’s lifting from quay to ship / from ship to quay (THD, for THC at Destination). For more information see MSC Queries / DTX / Charge Codes


Terminal handling charge


An additional charge for container’s lifting from quay to ship / from ship to quay (THD, for THC at Destination).


Terms of Delivery


All the conditions agreed upon between trading partners regarding the delivery of goods and the related services.

Note: Under normal circumstances the INCOterms are used to prevent any misunderstandings.


Terms of Freight


All the conditions agreed upon between a carrier and a merchant about the type of freight and charges due to the carrier and whether these are prepaid or are to be collected.


Terms of Sale


The point at which sellers have fulfilled their obligations so the goods in a legal sense could be said to have been delivered to the buyer. They are shorthand expressions that set out the rights and obligations of each party when it comes to transporting the goods. For more information see INCOTERMS.


The International Organisation for standardisation


Widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organisations.

Founded on February 23rd, 1947, the organisation promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards. It has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


The Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits
(UCP 600)


A set of rules on the issuance and use of letters of credit.

The latest revision, called the UCP600, formally commenced on 1st July 2007 (it replaced the UCP500. prepared in 1993 and in effect since January 1st, 1994).


Thermal Container


A container built with insulating walls, doors, floor and roof by which heat exchange with the environment is minimised, thus limiting temperature variations of the cargo.


This is also known as piggyback.T1


A European in-transit Customs document. This document is needed to transport dutiable goods to an inland Customs zone, rather than paying Customs Duties at the port of entry. There used to be a T2 for Intra-European cargo, but that is obsolete now.




A vertical wooden peg or pin inserted through the gunwale to form a fulcrum for oars when rowing. It is used in place of a rowlock.


Three sheets to the wind


On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. Also, a sailor who has drunk strong spirits beyond his capacity.


Through Bill of Lading (1)


A single Bill of Lading covering receipt of the cargo at the point of origin for delivery to the ultimate consignee, using two or more modes of transportation (rail / motor / barge / vessel).


Through bill of lading


Blanket documentation when multiple carriers of various transport modes are involved.


Through Charge or Through Rate


The total freight rate from the point of origin to the final destination (usually an all-inclusive rate).


Through Rate


The total rate from the port of origin to the final destination.


Through Route


The total route from the point of departure to the point of destination.


Throughput Charge


The charge for moving a container through a container yard off or onto a ship.




A bench seat across the width of an open boat.


Tidal Port


A port navigable only during high tide.




A horizontal division of a vessel from bottom to top. The numbers run from bottom to deck and from deck upwards and are used as a part of the indication of a stowage place for containers.




A lever used for steering, attached to the top of the rudder post. These levers are used mainly on smaller vessels, such as dinghies and rowing boats.


Time Charter


A contract for leasing between ship owners and the lessee. It would state the duration of the lease in years or voyages.


Time Draft


A draft that matures either a certain number of days after acceptance or a certain number of days after the date of the draft.


Time Sheet


A statement drawn-up by the ship’s agent at the loading and discharging ports, which details the time worked in loading and discharging the cargo, together with the amount of laytime used.




From the French timonnier, is a name given, on particular occasions, to the steersman of a ship.




A thin temporary patch.


To be advised/announced


To be advised/announced


To Be Nominated


To Be Nominated (Named). It is used for instance in Vessel Schedules when the sailing date must be mentioned, but the actual vessel / voyage are not yet known at the time of publication.


Toe the line or Toe the mark


At parade, sailors and soldiers were required to stand in line, their toes in line with a seam of the deck.




A low strip running around the edge of the deck like a low bulwark. It may be shortened or have gaps in it to allow water to flow off the deck.




A rope used as a punitive device.




Unit of weight measurement: 1000 kilograms (metric ton) or 2,240 lbs (long ton).

Unit of cubic measurement, mainly used to express the cubic capacity of a vessel.

Unit of weight or measurement used as a basis for the calculation of freights (freight ton). Deadweight Ton: Indicates the carrying capacity of the ship in terms of the weight in tons of the cargo, fuel, provisions and passengers which a vessel can carry. Displacement Ton: The weight of the volume of water which the fully loaded ship displaces. Kilometre Ton: Measure of airline freight capacity. Registered Ton: Indicates the cubical contents or burden of a vessel in tons of 100 cubic feet. The space within a vessel in units of 100 cubic feet.


Ton Mile


Unit used in comparing freight earnings or expenses. It equates to the amount earned from the cost of hauling a ton of freight one mile.




A term which generally refers to freight handled.

1. Cubic capacity of a merchant vessel.

2. Total weight or amount of cargo expressed in tons.


Top-Air Delivery


A type of air circulation in a container. Air is drawn from the bottom of the container, filtered through the evaporator for cooling and then forced through the ducted passages along the top of the container. This type of airflow requires a special loading pattern.




The mast or sails above the tops.




The second section of the mast above the deck; formerly the upper mast, later surmounted by the topgallant mast; carrying the topsails.




The second sail (counting from the bottom) up a mast. These may be either square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often ‘fill in’ between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.




The part of the hull between the waterline and the deck. For more information see Above-water hull.


Touch and go


The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.




Towage is a contract whereby one ship moves another. Towage, as opposed to salvage, is a service contract, which does not involve a marine peril, and the consideration is an hourly or daily rate or a lump sum, rather than a salvage reward based on the peril, the work accomplished and the value of the object salved.

There are various standard-form towage contracts, including, for example, the ‘International Ocean Towage Agreement (Lump Sum)’ (Code Name: ‘TOWCON’) and the ‘International Ocean Towage Agreement (Daily Hire)’ (Code Name: ‘TOWHIRE’) of BIMCO.




The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.




The action of retrieving information concerning the whereabouts of cargo, cargo items, consignments or equipment.


Track & Trace


The pro-active tracking of the product along the supply chain, and the paper information flow relating to the order.




The function of maintaining status information, including current location, of cargo, cargo items, consignments or containers either full or empty.




A powered vehicle designed and used for towing other vehicles.

A unit of highway motive power used to pull one or more trailers/containers.




A trade is a liner service or a cargo flow between two individual markets (e.g. North Atlantic Trade).

a) The exchange of goods, funds, services or information with value to the parties involved. This value is either previously agreed or established during business.

b) A commercial connection between two or more individual markets.


Trade Acceptance


A time or date draft that has been accepted by the buyer (the drawee) for payment at maturity.




The person or property carried by transport lines.


Traffic Separation Scheme


Shipping corridors, marked by buoys, which separate incoming from outgoing vessels. These are also known as Sea Lanes.




The truck unit into which freight is loaded as in tractor-trailer combination.


Trailer/truck load


Trailer/truck load




A term used (in the maritime industry) to denote an ocean carrier that does not operate ships on a regular schedule from one port to another, but instead calls at any port where a cargo may be obtained.


Tramp Line


An ocean carrier company operating tramp steamers not on regular runs or schedules.


Tramp Vessel


A vessel not operating under a regular schedule.


Trans-Atlantic conference agreement


North America / North Europe trade ocean freight pricing agreement among carriers.


Transferable Letter of Credit


A letter of credit that allows all or a portion of the proceeds to be transferred from the original beneficiary to one or more additional beneficiaries.


Transmittal letter


A letter from the shipper to its agent listing the particulars of a shipment, the documents being transmitted and instructions for the disposition of those documents.




A more or less flat surface across the stern of a vessel. Dinghies tend to have almost vertical transoms, whereas yachts’ transoms may be raked forward or aft.


Transporation and exportation
(T&E entry)


A US Customs form used to control cargo movement from port of entry to port of exit, meaning that the cargo is moving from one country, through the United States, to another country.




To move traffic from one place to another.


Transport International par la Route


road transport operating agreement among European governments and the United States for the international movement of cargo by road. Display of the TIR carnet allows sealed containerloads to cross national frontiers without inspection.




The movement of traffic from one place to another.




A system under which cargo is transferred from one transportation line to another.




The shipment of merchandise to the point of destination in another country on more than one vessel or vehicle. The liability may pass from one carrier to the next, or it may be covered by ‘through bills of lading’ issued by the first carrier. This is sometimes referred to as relay.


Transshipment Port


The place where cargo is transferred to another carrier.




Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the inboard end of the mainsheet; a more esoteric form of traveller consists of ‘slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays’.


Trialer on flat car


The movement of a highway trailer on a railroad flatcar.




To haul and tie up by means of a rope.




A period of time spent at the wheel (‘my trick’s over’).




The relationship of a ship’s hull to the waterline.




Truckload rates apply where the tariff shows a truckload minimum weight. Charges will be at the truckload minimum weight unless weight is higher.


True Bearing


An absolute bearing (qv) using true north.


True North


The direction of the geographical North Pole.


Trust Receipt


The release of merchandise by a bank to a buyer for manufacturing or sales purposes in which the bank retains title to the merchandise.




A small vessel designed to tow or push large ships or barges. Tugs have powerful diesel engines and are essential to docks and ports to manoeuvre large ships into their berths.

Pusher tugs are also used to push enormous trains of barges on the rivers and inland waterways of the USA.

Oceangoing salvage tugs provide assistance to ships in distress and engage in such work as towing drilling rigs and oil production platforms.




A description of the hull shape when viewed in a transverse section, where the widest part of the hull is some way below deck level.




A knot passing behind or around an object.




In water transportation, the time it takes between the arrival of a vessel and its departure.


Turnkey Project


Capital construction projects in which the supplier (contractor) designs and builds the physical plant, trains the local personnel on how to manage and operate the facility and presents the buyer with a self-sustaining project (all the buyer has to do is ‘turn the Key’).




When a sailboat (in particular a dinghy) capsizes to a point where the mast is pointed straight down and the hull is on the surface resembling a turtle shell.




The cargo-carrying surface below the main deck dividing a hold horizontally in an upper and a lower compartment.


Twenty-foot equivelant unit


Used to measure a vessel’s capacity by counting how many containers of 20′ length can be loaded onboard. A vessel’s intake capacity is composed of ‘slots’ meant to receive either 2×20’or 1×40′ containers. Due to the curvature of some cargo holds some slots might be made exclusively for 20′ while it is always possible to fit 2×20′ in any 40′ slot.

The 20′ container is then the ‘lowest common denominator’; so we will count the total amount of 20′ that can be fitted in any slot to envision the total carrying capacity of vessels.


Twist Lock


A steel anchor which has to be inserted into the corner fittings of a container and is turned or twisted, thus locking the container for the purpose of securing or lifting.


Twist Locks


A set of four twistable bayonet-type shear keys used as part of a spreader to pick-up a container or as part of a chassis to secure the containers.


Two-Way Pallet


A pallet designed so that the forks of a fork lift truck can be inserted from two sides only.


Type of Cargo


An indication of the sort of cargo to be transported, Breakbulk, Containerised or Ro/Ro.


Type of Equipment


The type of material used, e.g. 40 foot container, four-way pallet or mafi trailer.


Type of Movement


A description of the service for the movement of containers.

Note: The following type of movement can be indicated on B/L and manifest all combinations of FCL and LCL and break bulk and Ro/Ro. Whilst only on the manifest combinations of House, Yard and CFS can be mentioned.


Type of Transport


The indication whether the carrier or the merchant effects and bears the responsibility for inland transport of cargo in containers i.e. a differentiation between the logistical and legal responsibility.

Note: Values are Carrier haulage and Merchant haulage, whilst in this context special cases are carrier-nominated merchant haulage, and merchant nominated carrier haulage.



Free space above a liquid contained in a tank, drum or tank-container, expressed as a percentage of the total capacity. Ullage is often used to leave room for possible expansion of the liquid.


Ultimate Consignee


The party who has been designated on the invoice or packing list as the final recipient of the stated merchandise.


Ultra Large Container Ship


A container carrier with a minimum capacity of 12,500 TEUs.


Ultra Large Crude Carrier


A tanker vessel with a minimum capacity of 320,000 dwt.


UN Dangerous Goods Number


The four-digit number assigned by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods to classify a substance or a particular groups of substances.

Note: The prefix ‘UN’ must always be used in conjunction with these numbers.


UN Number


The same as UNDG. An identification number referring to hazardous cargoes as classified by the I.M.O.


Unaccompanied Baggage


Luggage not accompanied by a passenger.

A term mostly used in aircraft. Ocean Shipping uses instead ‘Household Goods’ or ‘Personal Effects.’




Acronym for the ‘United Nations Commission on International Trade Law,’ established by a United Nations General Assembly Resolution in 1966.

The aim of UNCITRAL is to harmonise and unify international trade law. It was instrumental in the preparation of the Hamburg Rules, 1978, and prepared the United Nations Convention on the Liability of Operators of Transport Terminals in International Trade, 1991.

In addition, UNCITRAL has been active in the area of international commercial arbitration and has prepared the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, 1985, the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Conciliation, 2002, the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules, and the UNCITRAL Notes on Organising Arbitral Proceedings.


Unclean Bill of Lading


A bill containing reservations as to the good order and condition of the goods, or the packaging, or both – for example, ‘bags torn;’ ‘drums leaking;’ ‘one case damaged’ or ‘rolls chafed.’


Under the weather


Serving a watch on the weather side of the ship, exposed to wind and spray.


Under way


A vessel that is moving under control: that is, neither at anchor, made fast to the shore, aground nor adrift.


Underwater hull or underwater ship


The underwater section of a vessel beneath the waterline, normally not visible except when in drydock.


Uniform customs and practice for documentary credits


A set of rules on the issuance and use of letters of credit.

The UCP is utilised by bankers and commercial parties in more than 175 countries in trade finance. Some 11-15% of international trade utilises letters of credit, totalling over a trillion dollars (US) each year.

The latest revision was approved by the Banking Commission of the ICC at its meeting in Paris on 25th October 2006. This latest version, called the UCP600, formally commenced on 1st July 2007.


Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits (UCP)


Rules for letters of Credit drawn up by the Commission on Banking Technique and Practices of the International Chamber of Commerce, in consultation with the banking associations of many countries.


Uniform Freight Classification


Uniform Freight Classification


Unit Load


Packages loaded on a pallet, in a crate or any other way that enables them to be handled at one time as a unit.


Unit load device


A pallet.


Unit Train


A train of a specified number of railcars, perhaps 100, which remain as a unit for a designated destination or until a change in routing is made.


United Arab Shipping Company


Established in July 1976; jointly by the six shareholding states from the Persian Gulf (Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE). The head office is located in the State of Kuwait. UASC is the largest ocean carrier of dry cargo to the Middle East.


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


Established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body. It is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues.

The organisation’s goals are to ‘maximise the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis.’

The creation of the conference was based on concerns of developing countries over the international market, multi-national corporations, and great disparity between developed nations and developing nations. In the 1970s and 1980s, UNCTAD was closely associated with the idea of a New International Economic Order (NIEO).

Currently, UNCTAD has 194 member States and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.


United Nations Convention on the Law of the SeaU.N.C.L.O.S.


Also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place from 1973 through 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.


United Nations EDI for Administration, Commerce and Transport.


EDI Standards are developed and supported by the UN for electronic message (data) interchange on an international level.


United States Department of Agriculture.


United States Department of Agriculture.




The consolidation of a quantity of individual items into one large shipping unit for easier handling. This includes loading one or more large items of cargo onto a single piece of equipment, such as a pallet.




The removal of a shipment from a container to a platform or warehouse.




Slack off quickly and run slack to a belaying point. This order is given when a line or wire has been stopped off or falls have been four-in-hand and the hauling part is to be belayed.




Specially selected personnel destined for high office.


Utilisation Rate


The quotient of used capacity and available capacity.

Validated Export License


A document required for commodities deemed important to national security, foreign-policy objectives, or protecting domestic supplies of strategic materials. The license constitutes permission to export a specific product to a specific party. The exporter applies for the license, which must be returned to an Export Administration after completing the specified shipments.


Valuable Cargo


A consignment which contains one or more valuable articles.


Valuation Charge


Transport charges for certain goods, based on the value declared for the carriage of such goods (also: ‘Ad Valorem’).


Value Added Tax


A form of indirect sales tax paid on products and services at each stage of production or distribution, based on the value added at that stage and included in the cost to the ultimate customer.




A rope leading from the gaff to either side of the deck; used to prevent the gaff from sagging. For more information see boom vang.


Vanishing angle


The maximum degree of heel after which a vessel becomes unable to return to an upright position.




Stowing cargo in a container.


Variable Cost


Costs that vary directly with the level of activity within a short time. Examples include costs of moving cargo inland on trains or trucks, stevedoring in some ports, and short-term equipment leases. For business analysis, all costs are either defined as variable or fixed. For a business to break even, all fixed costs must be covered. For profit, all variable costs must be recovered.




The seller or the supplier of goods or services.


Ventilated Container


A container designed with openings in the side and/or end walls to admit the ingress of outside air when the doors are closed.


Verified Gross Mass


Today, the weight of containers provided by the shippers is not always accurate, leading to accidents and posing a huge risk for the personnel, on the roads, inside the terminal, to cargo and equipment. Indeed, there were often discrepancies observed between the declared gross mass and the actual gross mass of a packed container.

In May 2014, the International Maritime Organization adopted an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regarding a mandatory container weight verification requirement on shippers. This convention applies to all containers shipments to which SOLAS amendments apply.

From 1st July 2016, shippers will be required to provide the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of each shipment to their ocean carrier. The responsibility is with the shipper to confirm the VGM before the carrier’s load list cut-off date.

The new SOLAS amendments introduce two main new requirements:

  • The shipper is responsible for providing the verified weight by stating it in the shipping document and submitting it to the master or his representative and to the terminal representative sufficiently in advance to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan;
  • The verified gross mass is a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship.

If not confirmed, the container will not be loaded on board (potential increased charges).

Please consult our  FAQs to know more about VGM.
More information can be found as well at IMO (International Maritime Organization).







Vessel (1)


1. A floating structure designed for the transport of cargo and/or passengers.

2. Boiler, drum.


Vessel Manifest


The international carrier is obligated to make declarations of the ship’s crew and contents at both the port of departure and arrival. The vessel manifest lists various details about each shipment by bill of lading number. Obviously, the bill of lading serves as the core source from which the manifest is created.


Vessel operating common carrier


A carrier defined by maritime law, offering an international cargo transport service operating their own vessels under their own rate structure in accordance with tariffs filed with the Federal Maritime Commission.

MSC fits this description.


Vessel Supplies for Immediate Exportation


Allows equipment and supplies arriving at one port to be loaded on a vessel, aircraft, etc., for its exclusive use and to be exported from the same port.




The shape of a boat or ship which sees the shape of the hull comes to a straight line to the keel.


Visby Rules


The Protocol to amend the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of Lading, signed at Brussels on 25th August, 1924.

These amendments to the Hague Rules, adopted in Brussels on February 23rd, 1968, came into force on June 23rd, 1977, for ten nations and since then for many more.

The Visby Rules were the result of the CMI Conference of 1963 in Stockholm, Sweden, which formally adopted the Rules in the ancient town of Visby after the Conference.

The Hague/Visby Rules are the Hague Rules as amended by the Visby Rules. A further Protocol to Amend the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law Relating to Bills of Lading signed at Brussels on August 25th, 1924 as Amended by Protocol of February 23rd, 1968, was adopted on December 21st, 1979 and entered into force on February 14th, 1984.

Most nations which have adopted Visby have adopted this Protocol, which is called the ‘Visby S.D.R. Protocol’.




Used in tariffs to specify commodities.


Voltri Terminal Europa


A Genoa-based container operator.


Volume charge


A charge for the carriage of goods based on their volume (by units of one cubic metre or 40 cubic feet).




A journey by sea from one port or country to another one or, in case of a round trip, to the same port.


Voyage Charter


A contract under which the shipowner agrees to carry an agreed quantity of cargo from a specified port or ports to another port or ports for a remuneration called freight, which is calculated according to the quantity of cargo loaded, or sometimes at a lump sum freight.


Voyage Number


The reference number assigned by the carrier or his agent to the voyage of the vessel.



The central deck of a ship between the forecastle and the quarterdeck.


Waiting Time


A trucking tariff term referring to any period of time beyond the allocated Free Time that a driver has to wait while the customer loads or unloads a container. Until the Free Time period has expired a driver can wait without the customer incurring extra expenses. Waiting Time, however, is chargeable to the client.

In the event the necessary Waiting Time would be too costly, shippers may opt for a ‘drag-and-drop’ solution, whereas the trucker would drop the container and immediately leave. They will return to pick up the container once laden. This option is more costly than a straight load but may be a lot cheaper than paying for Waiting Time.


Waiver Clause


A clause in a marine insurance policy stating that no acts of the insurer or insured in recovering, saving or preserving the property insured, shall be considered a dismissal from or acceptance of abandonment.




The turbulence behind a vessel; not to be confused with wash.




A number of strong and thick planks running length-wise along the ship, covering the lower part of the ship’s side.


War Risk (1)


Marine insurance coverage for the loss of goods resulting from an act of war. Each time there is a ‘hot spot’ of unrest near a shipping port or shipping lane, tariffs will be raised because the cargo owners and vessel operators’ insurance premiums are increased due to a ‘War Risk Clause.’


War risk


War risk


War Risk Insurance


Insurance issued by marine underwriters against war-like operations specifically described in the policy. In former times, war risk insurance was taken out only in times of war, but currently many exporters cover most of their shipments with war risk insurance as a protection against losses from derelict torpedoes and floating mines placed during former wars, and also as a safeguard against unforeseen warlike developments.

In the US, war risk insurance is written in a separate policy from the ordinary marine insurance; it is desirable to take out both policies with the same underwriter in order to avoid the ill effects of a possible dispute between underwriters as to the cause (marine peril or war peril) of a given loss.




A building specially designed for reception, delivery, consolidation, distribution and storage of goods/cargo.


Warehouse Entry


The document that identifies goods imported when placed in a bonded warehouse. The duty is not imposed on the products when stored in the warehouse but will be collected when they are withdrawn for delivery or consumption.


Warehouse Receipt (1)


A receipt of commodities deposited in a warehouse, identifying the commodities deposited. It is non-negotiable if delivery is only permitted to a specified person or firm, but it is negotiable if made out to the order of a person or firm or to a bearer.

Endorsement (without endorsement if made out to bearer) and delivery of a negotiable warehouse receipt serves to transfer the property covered by the receipt and serves to transfer the property covered by the receipt. Warehouse receipts are common documents in international banking.


Warehouse receipt


A document that communicates proof of ownership of cargo stroed in the warehouse.


Warehouse Withdrawal for Immediate Exportation


An agreement allowing merchandise that has been withdrawn from a bonded warehouse at one US port to be exported from the same port without paying duty.


Warehouse Withdrawal for Transportation


An agreement allowing merchandise that has been withdrawn from a bonded warehouse at one port to be transported in bond to another port, where a superseding entry will be filed.


Warehouse Withdrawal for Transportation Exportation


An agreement allowing merchandise that has been withdrawn from a bonded warehouse at one port – to be transported in bond through the US – to be exported from another port, without paying duty.




A clause in marine insurance policy whereby the underwriter agrees to cover the goods while in transit between the initial point of shipment and the point of destination, with certain limitations, and also subject to the law of insurable interest. When it was first introduced, the warehouse-to-warehouse clause was extremely important, but now its importance is diminished by the marine extension clauses, which override its provisions.




The storing of goods/cargo.


Warsaw Convention


The Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air, signed at Warsaw, 12 October 1929, or that Convention as amended by the Hague Protocol, 1955, stipulating obligations or parties and limitations and/or exonerations of carriers.




The waves created by a vessel; not to be confused with wake.




A period of time during which a part of the crew is on duty. Changes of watch are marked by strokes on the ship’s bell.




Water transport vessels. Ships, boats, personal water craft etc.




A strake of timber laid against the frames or bulwark stanchions at the margin of a laid wooden deck, usually about twice the thickness of the deck plank.




A document prepared by a transportation line at the point of a shipment; shows the point of origin, destination, route, consignor, consignee, description of shipment and amount charged for the transportation service. A waybill is forwarded with the shipment or sent by mail to the agent at the transfer point or waybill destination. Unlike a bill of lading, a waybill is not a document of title.




A location defined by navigational coordinates, especially as part of a planned route.


Wear and Tear


The loss or deterioration of an item resulting from ordinary use.


Wearing ship


Tacking away from the wind in a square-rigged vessel. For more information see Gybe.


Weather deck


Whichever deck is that exposed to the weather – usually either the main deck or, in larger vessels, the upper deck.


Weather gage


A favourable position over another sailing vessel to with respect to the wind.


Weather side


The side of a ship exposed to the wind.


Weather working days


Some ports might not work with strong winds presenting dangerous conditions on the cranes, some others on the handling equipment, or again on the vertical stacks of containers.




A ship that is easily sailed and manoeuvred; makes little leeway when sailing to windward.


Weigh anchor


To heave up (an anchor) – a preparatory task before setting sail.




Gross – The weight of the goods including packing, wrappers, or containers, internal and external. The total weight as shipped.

Net – The weight of the goods themselves without the inclusion of any wrapper.

Tare – The weight of the packaging or container.

Weight / Measurement Ton – In many cases, a rate is shown per weight/measurement ton, carrier’s option. This means that the rate will be assessed on either a weight ton or measurement ton basis, whichever will yield the carrier the greater revenue. As example, the rate may be quoted on the basis of 2,240 pounds or 40 cubic feet or of one metric ton or one cubic metre.

Weight Ton – There are three types of weight ton; the short ton, weighing 2,000 pounds; the long ton, weighing 2,240 pounds; and the metric ton weight 2,204.68 pounds. The last is frequently quoted for cargo being exported from Europe.


Weight and inspection


Weight and inspection


Weight Cargo


A cargo on which the transportation charge is assessed on the basis of weight.


Weight Charge


A charge for the carriage of goods based on their weight.


Weight guarenteed


Weight guarenteed


Weight Load Factor


Payload achieved as against available, expressed as a percentage. Cargo is frequently limited by volume rather than weight; load factors of 100% are rarely achieved.


Weight or measurement


The basis for assessing freight charges used in breakbulk shipments. Also known as ‘worm.’


Weight Ton


A ton of 1

Weight, Legal


Net weight of goods, plus inside packing.




The term in a Bill of Lading signifying that the master and the carrier are unaware of the nature or quantity of the contents of e.g. a carton, crate, container or bundle and are relying on the abbreviation for ‘Weight and/or measurement.’ This is also a possible method to assess a freight rate to a shipment.




Places in the ship’s hold for the pumps.




A structure built on the shore of a harbour extending into deep water so that vessels may lie alongside. For more information see Dock and Pier.


Wharfage (Whfg.)


A charge assessed by a pier or dock owner against freight handling over the pier or dock against a steamship company using the pier or dock. It is often charged in measure with the ship’s length (the longer part of the wharf the ship occupies, the higher the wharfage).


Wheel or ship’s wheel


The usual steering device on larger vessels, a wheel connected by cables to the rudder.




The location on a ship where the steering wheel is located; often interchanged with pilothouse and bridge.


Whether in berth or not


Whether in berth or not




A vertical lever connected to the tiller, used for steering on larger ships before the development of the ship’s wheel.


White horses or whitecaps


Foam or spray on wave tops caused by stronger winds (usually above Force 4).


Wide berth


To leave room between two ships moored (berthed) allowing space for manoeuvre.




The wind resistance of a boat.




A condition wherein the ship is detained in one particular station by contrary winds.




A winch mechanism, usually with a horizontal axis. It is used where the mechanical advantage is greater than that obtainable by block and tackle (such as raising the anchor on small ships).




Sea conditions with a tidal current and a wind in opposite directions, leading to short, heavy seas.




In the direction that the wind is coming from.


Windy Booking


A freight booking made by a shipper or freight forwarder to reserve space but not actually having a specific cargo at the time the booking is made. Carriers often overbook a vessel by 10 to 20 percent in recognition that ‘windy booking’ cargo will not actually ship.


With Average (1)


A marine insurance term meaning that shipment is protected for partial damage whenever the damage exceeds a stated percentage.


With average


With average


With particular average


With particular average


With Particular Average (1)


An insurance term meaning that the partial loss or damage of goods is insured. The damage must generally be caused by sea water. Many have a minimum percentage of damage before payment. It can also be extended to cover loss by theft, pilferage, delivery, leakage, and breakage.


Without Recourse


A phrase preceding the signature of a drawer or endorser of a negotiable instrument; it signifies that the instrument is passed onto subsequent holders without any liability to the endorser in the event of non-payment or non-delivery.


Without Reserve


A term indicating a shipper’s agent or representative is empowered to make definitive decisions and adjustments abroad without the approval of the group or individual represented. For more information see advisory capacity.


World customs organisation


An intergovernmental organisation, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. With its worldwide membership, the WCO is recognised as the voice of the global Customs community. It is particularly noted for its work in areas covering the development of international conventions, instruments, and tools on topics such as commodity classification, valuation, rules of origin, collection of customs revenue, supply chain security, international trade facilitation, customs enforcement activities, combating counterfeiting in support of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), integrity promotion, and delivering sustainable capacity building to assist with customs reforms and modernisation. The WCO maintains the international Harmonised System (HS) goods nomenclature, and administers the technical aspects of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreements on Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin.


World trade organisation


An organisation that supervises international trade.


Worm, serve, and parcel


To protect a section of rope from chafing by: laying yarns (worming), wrapping marline or other small stuff (serving) around it, and stitching a covering of canvas (parceling) over all.



International standard of the CCITT for packet switching of electronic data transmission.




A CCITT recommendation designed to facilitate international message and information exchange between subscribers of computer based store-and-forward services and office information systems in association with public and private data networks.




A series of computer networking standards regarding electronic directory services.


Xiamen International Container Terminals


Xiamen International Container Terminals



1. The horizontal spar from which a square sail is suspended.

2. Fenced off, outdoor storage and repair area.




The very end of a yard; often mistaken for a “yard”



The acknowledgement of an order, or agreement.For more information see aye, aye.




A vessel’s rotational motion about the vertical axis, causing the fore and aft ends to swing from side to side repetitively. For more information see Pitch.




1. A vessel’s small boat moved by one oar.

2. A small sailboat rigged fore-and-aft, with a short mizzenmast astern of the cockpit – distinguished from ketch.




Revenue, not necessarily profitable, per unit of traffic.


Yield Bucket


The remaining slot capacity for a trade/voyage in a certain port of loading after deduction of the allowance for specific contracts.


Yield Management


The process of maximising the contribution of every slot, vessel, trade and network. Basically it should be seen as the process of allocating the right type of capacity to the right kind of customer at the right price as to maximise revenue or yield. The concept should be used in combination with load factor management.


York-Antwerp Rules


A code of rules adopted by an international convention in 1890



A rubber dinghy. An inflatable craft for the transport of people.


Zone Haulage Rate


The rate for which the carrier will undertake the haulage of goods or containers between either the place of delivery and the carrier’s appropriate terminal. Such haulage will be undertaken only subject to the terms and conditions of the tariff and of the carrier’s Combined Transport Bill of Lading.