Handymax and Supramax are bulk carriers with a capacity less than 60,000 dwt. A Handymax vessel typically has a capacity between 35,000 and 50,000 DWT, while Supramax vessels are relatively bigger in size with 50,000 to 60,000 DWT. Modern handymax designs are typically 52,000-58,000 DWT in size. These bulkers are well suited for small ports with length and draught restrictions, or ports lacking transshipment infrastructure. As a result, Handymax and Supramax bulkers represent the majority of bulk carriers over 10,000 DWT. Though these bulkers are primarily used for carrying dry cargo such as iron ore, coal, cement, finished steel, fertilizer, and grains, sometimes the category is also used to define small-sized oil tankers.
In addition to Handysize vessels, Handymax and Supramax are counted amongst the smallest bulk carriers in operations today. A handymax vessel is typically 150-200 m (490-655ft) long with 5 cargo holds and 4 cranes of 30 metric ton lifting capacity. As they are equipped with on-deck cranes, they provide best options for carrying cargo to less sophisticated ports. These bulkers are used for transporting small volume of dry cargo, even allowing different kind of cargo in different holds.
Among handymax category, Supramax vessels are in great demand from commodity shippers due to their larger cargo carrying capacities approaching that of Panamax vessels, and on-board cargo handling flexibility. Their favorable size allows them to trade in a much wider range of world ports and terminals. According to estimates, Supramax consists of over 90% of handymax vessels being built today. Handymax vessels are primarily built in the Asian shipyards, mainly in Japan, South Korea and China.