Main Types of Vessels

Modern cargo vessels range from small coasters to very large bulk carriers and ultra large tankers, but generally fall into a number of types. The use of the terms below evolves quickly and they are not precisely defined.

Where terms are defined, this is intended to reflect current market practice rather than to impose a definition on the market. For the purpose of its information production, the Baltic does operate specific definitions in order to provide clarity. However, this does not imply that these broader definitions are erroneous, but that they are indicative only.

Bulk Carriers (dry cargo)

Handysize: about 20/35,000 dwt, four holds/hatches or five holds/hatches. Geared with 25-35 ton cranes

Handymax about 36/49,000 dwt, five holds/hatches. Geared with 25-35 ton cranes

Supramax/Ultramax about 50/66,000 dwt, geared with 25-40 ton cranes which are usually fitted with own grabs

Panamax/Kamsarmax about 65/82,500 dwt, seven holds/hatches. Usually gearless (although some 65/68,000 dwt vessels have gear – some of these fall into the Ultramax category above)

Post Panamax/Mini Cape about 87/120,000 dwt, seven holds/hatches. Gearless

Capesize about 120/200,000 dwt, nine holds/hatches.

Gearless Very large Ore Carrier, also Valemax, Chinamax about 220/400,000 dwt, seven holds/hatches. Gearless 


Tankers (oil and oil products carriers and chemical vessels)

Handysize about 10/37,000 dwt

MR (Medium Range) MR1 35,000-44,999 dwt

MR2 45,000-54,999 dwt

Panamax about 60/80,000 dwt (also called an LR1 if coated tanks for refined products)

Aframax about 90/120,000 dwt (also called an LR2 if coated tanks for refined products)

Suezmax about 120/160,000 dwt

VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) about 240/320,000 dwt

Gas Carriers

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

Small Gas Carrier (pressurised) <4,999 cbm

Small Gas Carriers (semi-refrigerated, pressurised) 5,000-14,999 cbm

Handysize Gas Carrier (can be semi or fully-refrigerated) 15,000-24,999 cbm

Medium Gas Carrier (fully-refrigerated) 25,000-39,999 cbm

Large Gas Carrier (LGC – fully-refrigerated) 40,000-59,999 cbm

Very Large Gas Carrier (VLGC – fully-refrigerated) >60,000 cbm


Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

Small Scale LNG <36,000 cbm

Med Max LNG 36,000-89,999 cbm

Lower Conventional LNG 90,000-144,999 cbm

Upper Conventional LNG 145,000-208,999 cbm

Q-Flex LNG 209,000-219,000 cbm

Q-Max LNG >220,000 cbm


Specialist Vessels

OO - A vessel which is adapted to carry both oil and ore

OBO - A general purpose vessel which is adapted to carry oil, general bulk products and ore

Tweendecker/Multi-purpose (MPP) - A vessel able to trade with one or more decks for the carriage of general cargo including bagged and/or mixed general cargoes and containers.

Reefer - A refrigerated ship for meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, etc.

RO/RO (Roll on/Roll off)

PCC (Pure Car Carrier)

PCTC (Pure Car/Truck Carrier) 

Container vessels

Ultra Large Container Ship (ULCS) - carrying capacity of 18,000-23,000 TEU

Very Large Container Ship (VLCS) - carrying capacity of 14,500-17,999 TEU

Neopanamax - carrying capacity of 10,000-14,499 TEU

Post-Panamax - carrying capacity of 5,200-9,999 TEU

Panamax - carrying capacity of 3,000-5,199 TEU