Various Bulk carrier sizes and employment guide
Bulk carriers come in all sizes, from the smallest ships of only
a few hundred tons deadweight to the largest of over 360,000 tons,
340 metres or more in length, 63 metres in beam and with draughts
of 23 metres. Many of the problems relating to hold preparation are
common to all bulk carriers. However, the size of holds in capesize,
panamax and handysize bulk carriers do present problems when
changing cargoes.The size of bulk carriers may often be referred by one of the following
Mini Bulk Carrier (100 - 130m length , less than 10m draft & 3000 ~ 23,999 DWT) Employed in coastal trade, serving as
feeder vessels to large ships. Their
main trade consists of short sea
voyages, carrying limited quantities
of bulk cargoes generally to smaller
ports without restriction on size of
Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
'Handysize' are the medium bulk carriers of between 24000 ~ 35000 DWT ( 130 - 150 m length & 10m draft ). They can carry cargoes to
a large number of ports, may carry
considerable variety and quantity of
Fig : Handymax bulk carrier at sea
'Handymax' bulk carriers of between 35,000 and 50,000 tonnes deadweight.( 150 - 200 m length & 11 ~ 12 m draft ).These bulkers are well suited for small ports with length and draught restrictions, or ports lacking transshipment infrastructure.Primarily used for carrying dry cargo such as iron ore, coal, cement, finished steel, fertilizer, and grains etc.
Fig : Supramax bulk carrier at sea passage
One very important size is the "Supramax " - a type which became more and more popular since 2001. These vessels are ranging between 50,000dwat and 61,000dwat (designers working on even larger vessels up to 63,000dwat ), have usually five cargo holds and deck cranes with a lifting capacity between 25mt and 40mt with most vessels being fitted with own grabs. A fairly big number are constructed as double hull vessels.
Most of the bulk carriers being delivered recently are of a double hull constructions and many of the sizes up to Supramax are so called "open hatch" or "semi open hatch" types which means they have a wide hatch opening with very narrow deck between hatch coaming and ship's side.
Supramax vessels are very popular among dry cargo shippers due to their larger cargo carrying capacities and on-board cargo handling flexibility. Their favorable size allows them to trade in a much wider range of world ports and terminals.
The term 'Panamax' ( length 200-230 m , draft 13 ~ 15 m ) refers to design size limitations imposed by the Panama Canal locks and adopted by the international shipping community:
beam must not exceed 106 feet (32.2 m), fully loaded vessels must not exceed 80,000 tons deadweight. Generally carry grain, coal and iron
ore from US ports.
Fig : Cape Hawk at sea passage
'Capesize' bulk carriers ( length 230 ~ 270 m , draft 17 m ) of 80,000 to 199,000 tonnes deadweight which are
too large for the Panama Canal and trade from the Atlantic around the
Cape of Good Hope. Only a few ports in the
world can accommodate them in fully
Suezmax means the largest vessel that can pass
through the Suez canal. The
maximum allowed draught of the
Suez canal is currently 18.90 m
(62 feet). However, the authorities
intend to increase this draught to
21.95 m by the end of 2017.
Very Large Bulk Carrier (VLBC) ( 270m and more 20m draft or more & 180,000 DWT and more ) : Very specialised, mainly purpose-built for specific trades.
Seawaymax ( 226 m max. 7.92 m draft 28,502 DWT max. ) : Largest vessel that can pass through
the canal locks of the St Lawrence Seaway.
Malaccamax ( 330 m approx. 20 m draft 300,000 DWT ) : Largest vessel that can pass through
the Straits of Malacca.
Setouchmax ( 299.9 m. (max) 16.1m draft 205,000 DWT ) : Maximum size allowed for ports in the
Setouch Sea in Japan only.
Dunkirkmax ( 289 m. max. 175,000 DWT (approx) : Maximum allowable beam = 45 m
for eastern harbour lock in Dunkirk,
Kamsarmax ( 229 m. (max) 82,000 DWT (approx) ) Maximum size allowed for port
Kamsar in Equatorial Guinea.
Newcastlemax ( Usually Capesize ) 185,000 DWT (approx) Maximum allowable beam = 47 m for
port of Newcastle in Australia.
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please
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"A ship which is intended primarily to carry dry cargo
in bulk, including such types as ore carriers and
- Care of cargo during loading- Trimming pours
- Classification of various dry bulk commodities
- Bulk carrier types - Ore carriers, OBO ships, forest product carrier , self unloader and more