Dry cargo ships are used to carry solid dry goods that have a higher tolerance to heat and cold, such as metal ores, coal, steel products, forest products, and grains. These vessels are equipped with on-deck cranes and other mechanism for loading and unloading of goods. As dry cargo shipment doesn’t require special types of precautions (as required for carrying liquid and gases), bulk carriers and container ships don’t have onboard temperature control equipment. Today, bulk of international trade is carried out by thousands of dry cargo carriers transporting goods to ports across the world.
Dry cargo vessel category mainly includes bulk carriers and container ships. Bulk carriers are used for transportation of unpackaged bulk cargo, such as metal ores, coal, cement, tin, steel, and grains in its cargo holds. Container ships are primarily used for the transportation of non-bulk cargo, generally manufactured goods, in truck-size intermodal containers.
As the name suggests, a bulk carrier is primarily used in carrying unpackaged bulk cargo items such as metal ores, coal, cement, grains and other similar cargo. Today, bulk carriers constitute of 40% of the merchant fleets in the world. They can be categorised in six major categories according to their deadweight tonnage capacity. The categories mainly include Handysize, Handymax, Panamax, Capesize and Very Large. Very large bulk carriers are normally counted into Capesize category, but sometimes they are considered as a separate category. Some regional categories such as Seawaymax, Kamsarmax, Setouchmax, Dunkirkmax, and Newcastlemax can also be included in the category of bulk carriers. South Korea is the largest builder of bulk carriers in the world.
The size of a bulk carrier can range from a small mini-bulker with a capacity of under 10,000 dwt to the giant capesize vessels with a capacity of up to 400,000 dead weight tonnage (DWT) or even more.
Handysize and Handymax (including the latest Supramax) bulkers represent the majority of bulk carriers over 10,000 DWT. These bulkers are primarily used for carrying dry cargo such as iron ore, coal, cement, finished steel, fertilizer, and grains
Panamax and New Panamax are medium-sized vessels with a cargo capacity ranging between 5,000 TEU to 13,000 TEU. These ships have been designed strictly in accordance with the dimensions of new locks at the Panama Canal.
Capesize bulkers are huge with a dwt between 150,000 and 400,000. According to estimates, 93% cargo of capesize bulkers comprises of iron ore and coal.
Container ships are ocean vessels that carry goods in large containers, a technique called containerisation. Container ships are primarily used for the transportation of non-bulk cargo, generally manufactured goods, in truck-size intermodal containers.
They can be divided into several categories according to their cargo carrying capacity. Main categories of container ships include Feeder, Feedermax, Panamax, New Panamax, and Ultra Large. At present, approximately 90% of non-bulk cargo around the world is transported by container ships.
The modern container ships (such as Maersk E Class) have been designed to have a cargo capacity of up to 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). They play a dominant role in international trade.