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Common Terms in Sea Transport

Shipping Container

A standard predefined set of containerized shipping units that are used throughout all sea shipments.  Shipping containers come in many variations to meet the needs of different shipments. Containers also have unique container numbers that can be tracked, and when in movement containers will be sealed using industry standard container seals. The vast majority of containers come in 20 foot and 40 foot dimensions.

Full container load (FLC)

A volume of cargo capable of filling an entire shipping container.

Less than container load (LCL)

A volume of cargo not capable of filling an entire shipping container.

Twenty Equivalent Unit (TEU) /

Short hand for identifying a container size and identifying slot space on a dock or a ship.  One 20 foot container is equal 1 TEU.

Forty Equivalent Unit (FEU)

Short hand for identifying a container size and identifying slot space on a dock or a ship.  One 40 foot container is equal 1 FEU or 2 TEUs.

Port of Loading (POL)

The port at which a vessel is loaded and disembarks.

Port of Discharge (POD)

The port at which a vessel arrives and unloads cargo.

Direct Service

A container that leaves and arrives on the same ship.

Transhipment Service

A shipment where a container changes multiple ships throughout the transport.

Live Load / Unload

When a forwarder or transport company sends or drops a container at a shipper’s facility and waits for the container to be loaded / unloaded without leaving.

Drop and Pick

When a forwarder or transport company leaves a container at a shipper’s facility for one or more days without being present for the loading / unloading.

Stripping

Removing contents from a container, either at the port or consignee’s location. May or may not involve breaking the container seal; a container may be opened prior to delivery for a variety of reasons including inspection and breaking down of a consolidated consignment.

Stuffing

Loading a container for shipping, at port, consignees’ location or consolidation warehouse somewhere in the middle. Sealing the container may or may not occur at point of stuffing.

Shipside / Quayside

Storage and handling of cargo occurring at a port alongside or near a sea transport vessel.

Berth

A designated location in a port where a vessel can park and moor, usually along the long edge of a ship to provide safe and easy offloading. Maritime vessels vary dramatically in size, both in length and depth under the water they may draft, so berthing space must be designated by a port captain or port official, and must match the needs of the vessel.

On Deck Stowage

The placement of items and containers stored on the surface deck of a ship for the duration of the transport. On deck refers to anything above below deck storage with free access to the air above the boat, however on deck storage might still start below the upper rim of the vessel.

Below Deck Stowage


The placement of items below the main deck of a shipping vessel. 


Bulk Carrier

A vessel containing loose bulk cargo in a large central cargo hold. Bulk carriers are ideal for transport of grain or loose materials that may be removed with special equipment on the receiving end. Frequently, bulk carriers will require re-bagging on the receiving end of the shipment.

Break Bulk

Cargo transported in large, unitized quantities not contained in a standard shipping container. Break bulk cargo may be items like large machine parts, construction materials or even vehicles, and can be stored in specialized below deck compartments.

RoRo

Any vessel that has capacity for vehicles to “Roll on / Roll off.” Might include regular vehicle ferry service, but also many long haul ships may have this capability.

Stevedore

A dock worker engaged with loading, offloading and management of maritime shipping activities.

Sea Transport Arrangements

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