Lexicon of maritime terms


ABANDONMENT TO INSURERS: Abandonment of the ship or the goods by the insured to the insurance company, in exchange for the payment of the insured value. This takes place in very precise circumstances (for example if the ship is non-recoverable).
AGENCY FEES: Fees levied by the shipping agent.
ALONGSIDE DELIVERY, UNDERTACKLE: When being shipped, the goods are taken in line with the hooks of the block and tackle used for loading alongside the ship, at the expense of the shipper, as the expenses up to the hold are the shipowner's responsibility and are included in the freight.
During unloading, the receiver takes the goods under the block and tackle hooks.
APPROVAL: Checking of the quality of goods by a surveyor or a monitoring company.
ASSISTANCE: Help provided to a ship that is in difficulty by another ship or a tug. Assistance can be distinguished from salvage which refers to a situation of imminent danger.
AVERAGE/DAMAGE: there are several types of damage:
1 - specific damage which occurs by accident to the ship or its cargo.
2 - the general average which refer to the losses or expenses incurred voluntarily by the Master to save the ship and its cargo


BALLAST: Dead weight (water, iron weights, sand, etc.) ensuring the stability of the ship.
BALLAST TANK: Double bottom of the ship used to store fuel and to ballast the ship or change the trimBARGE: Parallelepiped shaped river or maritime vessel without any means of propulsion.
BARE BOAT (or demise charter): Charter of a boat without the crew
BARGE: Parallelepiped shaped river or maritime vessel without any means of propulsion
BARGE CARRIER: Ship transporting barges of a given type, which are loaded with goods to be routed through inland ports. There are two main types of barge carrier ships: Lash and Sea-bee.
BEAM FILLING: Loading the hold until the goods touch the beams, that is, the upper structure which supports the deck.
BEAM: Width of a ship
BILL OF LADING (B/L): Official document representing the goods, serves as a receipt, certifies the goods, serves as evidence for the transport clauses and conditions, can be negotiable. It must be signed by the Master or on his behalf.
The bill of lading may contain the following details: to the order of, straight, shipped, on board, direct, if for a single ship, through, if there are several land or maritime transporters. If the bill of lading is without reservations, it is said to be clean. With reservations it is said to be foul or dirty.
BLOCK AND TACKLE: Lifting equipment made up of several pulleys. Is used, in particular, for handling goods.
BOOKING NOTE: Agreement, signed by the parties, in which a shipper undertakes to hand over goods to a shipowner or to his agent and this person undertakes to load it on to the ship. The booking note provides the details of the goods to load (freight rate, laydays, ports of loading and of unloading, loading date) possibly with remarks.
BREAKBULK CARGO: Loading of a ship by several shippers without charter party. This is the loading method employed on regular lines.
BULK CARRIER (B/C): Ship specialised in transporting bulk cargoes
BUNKERS: Fuel (coal, oil, gas oil) shipped to propel the ship.


CANCELLING: Clause in charter parties stipulating the date limit at which the ship must be made available to the shipper otherwise the charter is cancelled.
CARGO BOOM (or derrick): Equipment allowing the ship to handle cargo by its own means. They are often replaced by deck cranes.
CARGO: Goods (the term "cargo" is sometimes used to mean "goods ship": cargo ship).
CARGO INSURANCE: In maritime insurance this is the name of the goods as opposed to the body, i.e. the ship itself.
CHEMICAL TANKER: Ship transporting liquid chemical products.
CEILING: Covering of the hold, generally in wood, to insulate the goods from the ship's frame and ensure their protection.
CHARTERING: Hire of a ship, for a set time (time charter), for a voyage (voyage charter), with a bare boat or demise charter contract, or with a lumpsum contract known as a charter party.
CHARTER PARTY: Charter contract
CAF or CIF (cost, insurance, freight): Form of sale in which the sales price includes the cost of the goods transported to the port of destination and the insurance, the buyer being responsible for any unloading costs.
CLEAN BILL OF LADING: Bill of lading without reservations.
CLEARANCE: Customs clearance
CONSIGNEE: Addressee.
CONTAINER: "Box" generally in metal, with standardised dimensions, used to transport various goods, liquids or pulverulents. There are small containers (less than 20m3) and transcontainers or TCs which are 20', 30', 35', 40' (forty footers) in length.
CONTAINER SHIP: Ship specialising in the transport of containers.
COST & FREIGHT (C & F): Type of sale in which all the expenses up to loading of the ship including the freight are the vendor's responsibility, the buyer bears the cost of maritime insurance and the unloading costs if applicable.


DAMAGE/AVERAGE: there are several types of damage:
1 - specific damage which occurs by accident to the ship or its cargo.
2 - the general average which refer to the losses or expenses incurred voluntarily by the Master to save the ship and its cargo.
DEADWEIGHT: Difference expressed in metric tonnes or in "long tons" between the displacement of the light ship and its displacement with a full load. The useful cargo deadweight or carrying capacity is the maximum weight of goods that the ship can transport.On écrit souvent tpl (tonnes de port en lourd).
DECK LOAD: Goods loaded on the deck and therefore exposed to the weather. It is therefore necessary to take out a special insurance.
DELIVERY ORDER: Document issued by the shipping agent to allow fragmented delivery of goods covered by a general bill of lading but bound for different receivers.
DELIVERY AND REDELIVERY: Taking over of a ship by a charterer and return, at the end of the charter, to its owner.
DEMURRAGE: In the charter contract, the ship has a certain period called laydays for cargo handling operations. If this period is exceeded, it is said to be in demurrage and the shippers must pay the shipowner or the charterer penalties (also called demurrage) calculated at X...per day and on a prorata basis per hour. The time wasted is noted on the time sheet
DERRICK-SCOW: High power floating crane (more than 30T).
DIRTY B/L: Bill of lading with reservations (see these words).
DISBURSEMENT ACCOUNT: Invoice sent by the agent to the shipowner listing all the expenses incurred on his behalf during a ship's stopover as well as the agent's remuneration
DISBURSEMENT: These are payments made to suppliers or to third parties by a shipping agent or forwarder on behalf of the shipowner or the shipper. These disbursements are recovered by means of the disbursements account or by invoice
DISPATCH MONEY: Bonus paid by the shipowner to the shipper for all time saved in the loading or unloading operations of a chartered ship. It is the opposite of demurrage. It is determined by means of the time sheet (see these words).
DISPLACEMENT: Weight of water displaced by the ship in metric tonnes or long tons. The light displacement is the weight of the ship unloaded, and the load displacement is the weight of the ship with the maximum load. The difference between the two is the total deadweight (see this word).
DOOR TO DOOR: Describes a container filled at the goods production site (factory) which will be emptied on the user's site.
DOOR TO PIER: Describes a container filled at the goods production site (factory) which will be emptied on the terminal pier.
DOOR (or Cargo door): Openings made in the ship's hull for the loading or unloading of goods into the tweendeck.
DRAFT: Height between the waterline and the keel of a ship. It is the minimum depth required for the ship to float. There is a distinction between the light draft and the loaded draft. It is measured in feet or in metres.


EASY-TRIMMER: General cargo ship, which nevertheless enables easy bulk stowage.
ETA (Estimated time of arrival): Date and time estimated for the arrival of the ship in the port of call (if GMT is not specified, then it refers to local time).
ETC (Empty Transcontainer): Empty container.
ETS (Estimated time of sailing): Estimated date and time of departure (see ETA).


FAS (Free alongside ship): English commercial formula according to which the ownership of the goods is transferred to the buyer (who must therefore pay the customs duty) as soon as they are brought alongside the ship by the vendor.
FASTENING: Stowing and blocking heavy or bulky packages on board ship, using plank cradles and wooden blocks to avoid shifting during the crossing.
FEEDER: Ducts generally made of wood installed with the shifting boards in the hold of a bulk carrier to facilitate the distribution of bulk goods within the hold.
FIO Free in and out: Method of receiving the freight according to which the goods are loaded on board at the shipper's expense and recovered where it was stowed at the expense of the receiver.

FLAT: Containers that are made up of just the floor and the uprights. These containers can be stacked when they are empty.
FLOATING POLICY: Goods insurance policy taken out by a shipowner (or a forwarder) to cover the goods that the transporter has entrusted to him.
FOB Free on board: Type of sale whereby the vendor is responsible for loading, customs bonding and stowage and the buyer is responsible for the freight, the insurance, etc.
FORWARDING: Shipping of a document, goods, etc.
FORWARDING AGENT: Forwarder or forwarding agent (Shipper) who is responsible for the transport of the goods from end to end.
FOR CONSUMPTION: Customs clearance of goods and payment of duty before delivery to the internal market.
FOUL B/L or DIRTY B/L: Bill of lading with reservations (see Bill of Lading).
FREE PRATIQUE: Authorisation granted by the Authorities to a ship to communicate directly with the shore after production of a bill of health without reservations.
FREIGHT: Cost of transport of goods particularly by sea. It is payable either in advance (freight prepaid), or at the destination (at destination or freight collect). Deadfreight is the compensation of the shipowner by a shipper who has booked space but has not provided the goods. There may be overfreight (see this word). By extension, the word freight often refers to the goods themselves.
FREIGHT TON: Basis for weight calculation. Depending on the case, this unit may be based on the weight or the volume (see Freight or Weight or measurement).
FTC (Full transcontainer): Full container


GANTRY CRANE: Giant overhead crane for handling containers in terminals. Sometimes called Paceco or Portainers.
GENERAL CARGO: General miscellaneous goods.
GOODS INSURANCE, CARGO INSURANCE: In maritime insurance this is the name of the goods as opposed to the body, i.e. the ship itself.
GYN: High capacity cargo boom.
G.P.L. see L P G.
G.R.T. see Tonnage.


HANDLING CHARGES: Costs arising from the different handling operations undergone by containers in the depots or terminals.
HATCH: Opening in the deck of a ship generally used to load and unload goods.

HATCH COVER: Watertight closure of hatches.
HEAVY GOODS: Goods, in bulk, heavy for their volume (coal, ore, etc.).
HOLD: Spaces in the ship under the lower deck used for stowing goods. They are numbered 1, 2, ... from the forward to the aft of the ship.
HOUSE TO HOUSE (H/H): Expression meaning the same as Door to door.
HOUSE TO PIER (H/P): Same meaning as Door to pier.
HULL INSURANCE POLICY: Insurance of the ship itself.


INDEPENDENT ADJUSTER: Expert charged with assessing the value of the goods when damage has occurred (see Surveyor).

INSULATED: Thermally insulated container.
ISO (International Standardization Organization): International organisation that standardised the characteristics of containers, ships which transport them and the machines which handle them.


KNOT: Marine unit of speed corresponding to a nautical mile per hour.


LANDING CHARGES: Unloading costs added to the freight.
LASHING: Strong tying of the cargo under the Master's responsibility, in preparation for the crossing.
LAYDAYS: see Demurrage
LCL (less than container load): Aggregated container. Describes a shipment that does not justify the use of a complete container.
LIFTING BEAM: Type of beam used for balancing efforts when handling packages. see Spreader.
LIGHT SHIP: Empty ship.
LOAD LINE: Mark painted on the hull and approved by the classification society showing the waterline that the loaded ship must not go beyond. Also known as the freeboard mark.
LLOYDS: Associations of insurance companies in London.
LLOYDS REGISTER: British classification society.
LNG Liquefied natural gas: Ship transporting liquid natural gas (gas carrier).
LOADING CHARGES: Loading costs added to the freight.
LO - LO (Lift off - lift on): Modern ships with vertical handling capability for pre-slung packages, with wide hatches and with no onboard handling.
LOOSE CEILING: Mobile floor (lining) protecting the bottom of the hold (ballast ceiling).
LOSS: For ships the loss is total (total loss) or actual (actual total loss) if the ship is really or virtually lost (constructive total loss) when it seems inevitable or the cost of preventing it is too high.
For goods we refer to shortage (see this word).
LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas): Ships transporting liquefied petroleum gas (propane, butane, etc.).
LUMPSUM: Charter based on a lumpsum payment rather than in relation to the Tonnage.


MAFI: Brand of low two-wheeled trailers that can be stacked on top of each other that are often used in ports to transport individualised loads (containers).
MANIFEST: Summary statement of the bill of lading covering the goods loaded on a ship.
MULTIPURPOSE VESSEL: Ship that can transport containers as well as bulk


NAUTICAL MILE: Measurement of maritime distance, approximately 1,852m. 1/10 of a nautical mile is a cable length: 185mr.
NO CURE, NO PAY : Type of assistance or salvage contract in which the salvager is only reimbursed for his expenses and only receives compensation if the goods are saved.
NOTICE OF READINESS: Official statement given by the Master to the shippers to notify them that the ship is ready to load: laydays start from the handing over of this document or after an agreed period. See Demurrage.
NOTIFY ADDRESS: Note on the bill of lading specifying the persons to notify when arriving at the unloading port.
NRT (Net register tonnage): see Tonnage.


OBO (Ore, Bulk, Oil): Bulk carrier that can transport ore, miscellaneous bulk such as grain, and oil.
O/O (Ore, Oil): Ship transporting mixed ore and oil.
OPENTOP: Container with an opening top.
OVERFREIGHT: Extra charge on the freight according to how congested the ports are, congestion charge, or increase in the price of fuel, bunker surcharge, etc.
OVERTIME: Working outside normal hours
OWN RISK: Part of the risk retained by the insured (shipowner) that he is responsible for.


PACECO: see Gantry crane
PANAMAX: Ship of less than 500 tonnes of gross tonnage which benefits, thanks to international agreements, from special exemption (lower workforce, etc.).
PARCEL TANKER: Tanker than can load several qualities of liquid, oil, chemical, food products, etc.
PERILS OF THE SEA: Accident of any type occurring at sea to the ship or to the goods transported.
PIER TO HOUSE: Container filled at the terminal and delivered to the addressee.
PIER TO PIER: Container filled and emptied at port terminals.
PLATFORM DECK: Intermediate deck (see Tween peck)
PORTAINER: see Gantry crane.
PRATIQUE: see Free pratique.
PROBO (Product, Oil, Bulk, Ore): Bulk carrier that can transport chemicals, oil, bulk (grain), and ore products successively.
PRODUCT TANKER: Ship transporting bulk chemical products.
PROTEST: Official document filed by the Master with the authorities in the first port of call when there has been an event on board causing effects on the ship, its crew or its cargo.
PROX (Proximo): Next.
PUSHTUG: Seagoing ship or river boat designed to "push" a barge or a convoy of barges.


REBATE: Bonus given by the shipowner to his shipper to ensure his loyalty. Among the bonus systems used, there are the deferred rebate or loyalty bonus and the contract system.
REEFER: Refrigerator ship or container.
REGISTER TON: 2.83m3 or 100cft. see Tonnage.
RESERVATIONS: Noting of shortage and damage, when taking over responsibility for goods, in order to determine responsibilities at a later stage.
RORO or ROLL-ON/ROLL-OFF or RO-RO: Ship with horizontal handling and loading (by means of doors at the stern or on the sides and by fixed or mobile internal ramps).


SALVAGE: see Assistance.
SEA-BEE: Type of barge carrier ship (see this word) (800T barges).
SEAWORTHINESS: State of a ship capable of setting to sea.
SEIZURE, ARREST: Arrest of a ship approved by the legal authority to someone who considers that he has debts to be redeemed from the Master or the Shipowner.
SELF TRIMMER: Ship with a single deck specialised in bulk transport.
SESSION: Half the normal working day for a docker. See Shift.
SET: Package of goods grouped together in a sling or net to be loaded or unloaded.
SHELTER DECKER (or shelter deck ship): Ship with two decks whose tonnage can be reduced (shelter open or open shelterdeck) or not (shelter closed or closed shelterdeck) thanks to devices (Tonnage well) authorised, in certain conditions, by customs.
SHIFT: Session or short-term contract for a team of dockers.
In France, a shift, or work in shifts, is port work without interruption, equivalent, in principle, to two sessions (see this word). Its duration is variable from port to port from 6 to 8 hours at a stretch. As it involves extra pay, shift work is more costly for the shipowner than sessional work, but it makes it possible to finish the ship more quickly.
SHIFTING BOARDS: System designed to prevent movement of bulk goods in the hold during the crossing.
SHIP BROKER: Government officer who has the privilege of carrying out official translations in French ports and the customs bonding of foreign ships. Distinct from the charterer's broker and the ship sale and purchase broker
SHIPPED: Note on bill of lading (see this word). See also "on board".
SHIPPER: Person or company that transports or receives goods.
SHIPPING AGENT: Representative of the ship's operator (shipowner or time charterer) in a port of call. He organises the freight, delivers the goods and assists the Master. He is paid by commission on freight and agency fees.
SHIPMENT: Shipping or loading of goods.
SHIPOWNER: The person who commissions and operates the ship - its owner. The owner is generally an incorporated company.
SHIPPING ORDER: In certain ports, particularly in the Mediterranean, it is the "acconier" who receives the goods and signs a receipt known as the "Shipping order" and can make reservations against the shipper.
SHIPPED: "Loaded" Note on a bill of lading indicating that the goods have been recognised by the crew as being loaded.
SHORTAGE, SHORT DELIVERY: Difference between the quantity of goods delivered and the quantity written on the bill of lading.
The transporter's responsibility is laid down by law. It does not apply in the case of a force majeure event, inherent vices in the goods or of specific reservations made at the outset.
SLING: Ropes used for handling packages.
SLOT: Location for a container on a container ship.
SPREADER: Rectangular lifting beam used to handle the containers.
STACKING: Stacking of containers one on top of the other.
STANDARD: Standard measurements of cubic content of the wood from northern forests. The Saint-Petersburg standard is the most commonly used, and is equal to 165 cft or 4.67m3, which corresponds to 2.3 to 2.4t for white wood and of 2.6 to 2.7t for red wood (for dry wood).
STATEMENT OF FACTS: Report of stopover sent to the shipowner by the agent. This is a chronological statement of loading or unloading operations allowing calculation of the demurrage or dispatch on the time sheet.
STEM: Agreement of the bulk shippers on the date the ship will be presented for goods loading. This agreement is necessary so that the charter is concluded and the ship is then said to be stemmed.
STEVEDORE: Maritime Handling company who carry out in particular the loading and unloading of the ship. This French term "Acconier" is used above all in the Mediterranean where the Acconier takes charge of the goods when it arrives on the quay until it is loaded on the ship and the reverse. For the ports in the North, see Stevedores.
STEVEDORES: In the ports in the North, maritime handling companies who (unlike the"acconiers" in the Mediterranean) are responsible for handling (loading, unloading, etc.) the goods.
STOWAGE: Placing the cargo on board the ship in a way that ensures the preservation of the goods, the safety of the ship and easy access in the ports of call. The Master draws up a cargo plan which indicates the location of the goods on board ship. For bulk goods, the term used is trimming.
STRADDLE CARRIER: Special truck used for handling containers in the parks by straddling them.
STRIPPING: Emptying of a container.
STUFFING: Filling of a container.
SUPERCARGO: Charterer's representative embarked on time charter ships.
SURVEYOR: Person appointed by the parties (expert chosen by agreement) or by the Tribunal (court expert) to witness a situation and, in the event of damage, to find out the causes.


TALLY: Counting the number of packages loaded or unloaded to determine the shortage.
TANKER: Ship fitted with tanks.
TARE WEIGHT: Weight of the empty container.
TC (Transcontainer): Container 20', 30', 35' or 40' in length. see Container.
TERMINAL (oil or container): Piers specially fitted out to accommodate oil tankers or container ships and allowing handling, storage and emptying or reception of their oil or container cargo. For bulk the commonly used term is ore terminal wharf or grain terminal, etc.
TIME CHARTER: See Chartering.In principle the shipowner bears the cost of fitting out the ship (crew, maintenance, insurance, depreciation, etc.) and the charterer bears the operating costs (overtime, fuel, port costs).
TIME SHEET: see Dispatch money and demurrage. This contains a record of arrival time of the ship, presentation of the notice of readiness (see these words) for loading, etc. with all the details (quantity of goods handled, work stoppages, etc). The time sheet gives the details of the calculation of demurrage or dispatch money.
T/M - Tonne or m3: French equivalent of w/m. See Weight or measurement.
TONNAGE: Official measurement of the interior capacity of the ship. The measurement unit is the gross ton or register ton. There are several types of tonnage:
1- gross Tonnage: internal capacity of the ship and its superstructures.
2- the gross register Tonnage itself: GRT : capacity of the ship below deck.
3- the net register Tonnage: NRT : capacity usable for goods.
The calculation of the tonnage is carried out in France by the Customs authorities according to special rules; the tonnage is used as a basis for calculation of various taxes and fees and the application of the maritime regulations.
TON (Tonne): There are several types of tons: the metric tonne weighing 1000kg, the long ton weighing 1016kg or 20cwt, the short ton weighing 907kg, the measurement ton equivalent to 40cft (1.132 m3), etc.
TRAILER: Semi-trailer for road transport. By extension container trailer.
TRAMPING: A tramping or tramp ship, unlike those on regular lines, navigates throughout the world in response to loading offers. They transport a single type of goods on sub-charters, or more often complete charters: coal, ore, phosphates, sulphur, flour, sugar, grain, fertiliser, wood, etc.
TRANSCONTAINER (TC): see Container.
TRIMMING: Stowage (see this word) of bulk cargo after it has been loaded.
TRIM: Difference between the ship's forward and aft draught.
TWEEN DECK: Space between two decks.See Platform deck.


U L C C (Ultra Large Crude Carrier): Oil tanker with a deadweight of more than 500,000.
ULT (Ultimo): Of last month.
UNDERWRITER: Insurance company. See Hull insurance.
UNIT: Load unit.


VICE: quality imperfection. There are several types of imperfection: inherent vice which relates to the inherent characteristics of the machine component, or the defective goods and whose consequences are the owner's responsibility and hidden defect which cannot reasonably be expected to have been detected. Finally, stowage defect is the result a defect in the loading of the goods (incorrect location in the hold, defective lashing, incompatibility with adjacent goods, etc.)
V L C C (Very Large Crude Carrier): Very large oil tanker.


WASTAGE: Loss recognised as being inevitable in the transport of certain goods.
WEIGHT OR MEASUREMENT (w/m): Formula for taxing freight making it possible to choose either the weight (metric tonne, 1016kg) or the cubic content (measurement freight of 40cft (1.132m3), cubic measurement m3, etc.). See Freight ton.


YORK and ANTWERP RULES : York and Antwerp rules (1924 modified in 1950) adopted for the settlement of the general average.