Chinamax vessels are the largest bulk carriers with deadweight tonnage as high as 400,000 DWT. These vessels are capable of transporting huge volume of bulk cargo such as iron ore and coal to world ports having adequate infrastructure to accommodate such a huge ship. Alhough the Chinamax vessels were initially designed to carry massive shipments of Brazilian iron ore to China, their area of operations is not restricted only to China now.
The Chinamax vessels are classified on the basis of their dimensions as well as capability to use multiple harbours at maximum capacity. This is in contrast to Panamax and Suezmax vessels which are classified by the dimensions of locks and channels of Panama and Suez canals respectively. As per dimensions, Chinamax vessels can have a maximum length of 360m (1,181ft), width of 65 m (213 ft) and a draught of 24 m (79 ft). Chinamax vessels have seven large compartments with large loading doors to facilitate easily loading and unloading of cargo. Their relatively big size makes them a convenient and economic option to carry large orders.
Chinamax ships are the longest bulk carriers currently in service. Due to its huge size and dimensions, a Chinamax can serve limited number of world ports with deepwater terminals. At present, they are serving deepwater ports in Brazil, China, Europe and the Middle East. India also boasts three deepwater ports capable of accommodating Chinamax ships. The Brazilian mining company Vale is planning to use a giant 400,000 tonnes iron ore carrier for transporting coal to India in coming years. India currently imports large quantity of coal from Indonesia and South Africa. Vale has ordered a fleet of 35 Chinamax or Valemax bulk carriers. The use of more and more Chinamax vessels as bulk carriers in coming days is expected to further pressurise the already declining freight rates in the future.