Ship Sizes

Cargo ships or vessels come in different types and sizes to meet the various demands of marine cargo transportation. Cargo ships  are categorised partly by capacity and partly by dimensions (often related to the different canals and canal locks they are traveling through). Sizes of cargo vessels range from a modest handysize carriers(10,000 - 30,000 DWT) to mammoth VLCC and ULCC super tankers with a capacity to carry cargoes of more than 200,000 DWT. Aframax and Panamax are mid-sized cargo vessels.

Aframax 

AFRA stands for Average Freight Rate Assessment. As the name suggests, Aframax are medium-sized oil tankers with a dead weight tonnage (DWT) between 80,000 and 119,999. Though relatively small in size in comparison to VLCC and ULCC, Aframax tankers have a capacity to carry up to 120,000 metric tonnes of crude oil. They are just ideal for short to medium-haul oil trades, and are primarily used in regions of lower crude production, or the areas that lack large ports to accommodate giant oil carriers. 

Aframax tanker

Capesize

They are very large and ultra large cargo vessels with a capacity over 150,000 DWT. They are categorised under VLCC, ULCC, VLOC and ULOC  and can be as large as 400,000 DWT or even more. They serve regions with largest deepwater terminals in the world and are primarily used for transporting coal and iron ore. Because of their giant size, they are suitable to serve only a small number of ports with deepwater terminals.

Very Large Ore Carrier

 

 

Chinamax

Chinamax ships are very large bulk carrier which can't be longer than 360m (1,180 ft), wider than 65 m (213 ft) and her draft can't be more than 24 m (79 ft). The deadweight tonnage of these vessels is 380,000–400,000 DWT.

Ship's maximum measurements are defined by the Chinamax standars, allowing ports to determine whether they can accommodate ships in this class. As the name suggests, these ships are often used to move cargo to and from China along several trade routes, such as the iron ore route from Brazil to China.

Chinamax ship

Handymax/ Supramax

Handymax are small-sized cargo ships with a size less than 60,000 DWT. Supramax vessels have capacity between 50,000 to 60,000 DWT. Due to their small size, they are capable of operating in regions with small ports with length and draught restrictions. They form the majority of ocean going cargo vessels in the world. 

Handymax

Handysize

Handysize are small-sized ships with a capacity ranging between 15,000 and 35,000 DWT. These vessels are ideal for small as well as large ports, and so make up the majority of ocean cargo vessels in the world. They are mainly used in transporting finished petroleum products and for bulk cargo.

Handysize

Malaccamax

As the name suggests, Malaccamax ships are the largest ships that can pass through the Strait off Malacca which is 25 m (82 ft) deep. As per the current permissible limits, a Malaccamax vessel can have a maximum length of 400 m (1,312ft), beam of 59 m (193.5 ft), and draught of 14.5 m (47.5 ft).

New Maersk Tripple E class - Malaccamax ship

Panamax and New Panamax

As the name suggests, Panamax and New Panamax ships are travelling through the Panama Canal. They strictly follow the size regulations set by the Panama Canal Authority, as the entry and exit points of the Canal are narrow. A Panamax vessel can't be longer than 294,13 m (965 ft), wider than 32,31 m (106 ft) and her draught can't be more than 12,04 m (39.5 ft). These vessels have an average capacity of 65,000 DWT, and are primarily used in transporting coal, crude oil and petroleum products. They operate in the Caribbean and Latin American regions.

The New Panamax has been created as a result of the expanding plans for Panama Canal locks. Expanded locks will be around 427 m (1400 ft) long, 55 m (180 ft)  wide and 18,30 m (60 ft) deep so Panama Canal will be able to handle larger vessels .

Ships in Panama Canal

Q-Max (Qatar-max)

Q-Max's are largest LNG carriers that can dock at the LNG terminals in Qatar.

Q-Max ship is 345 metres (1,132 ft) long, 53.8 metres (177 ft) wide and 34.7 metres (114 ft) high, with a draught of approximately 12 metres (39 ft). It has a capacity of 266,000 cubic metres (9,400,000 cu ft), equal to 161,994,000 cubic metres (5.7208×109 cu ft) of natural gas.

Q-max Mozah

Seawaymax

As the name suggests, Seawaymax ships are the largest ships that can pass through the locks of St. Lawrence Seaway.

These ships are 225,6 m (740 ft) long, 23,8 m (78 ft) wide and 35,5 m (116 ft) high, with a draught of 7,92 metres (26 ft).

Seawaymax ship

Suezmax

Suezmax are named after the famous Suez Canal. They are mid-sized cargo vessels with a capacity ranging between 120,000 to 200,000 DWT. They are designed to pass through the majority of the ports in the world. Currently the permissible limits for suezmax ships are 20.1 m (66 ft) of draught with the beam no wider than 50 m (164.0 ft), or 12.2 m (40 ft) of draught with maximum allowed beam of 77.5 m (254 ft).

Ship passing through Suez Canal

VLCC and ULCC

VLCC stands for Very Large Crude Carriers. They have a size ranging between 180,000 to 320,000 DWT. They are very flexible in using terminals and can also operate in ports with depth limitations. VLCCs are used extensively around the North Sea, Mediterranean and West Africa.

ULCC or Ultra Large Crude Carriers are the largest shipping vessels in the world with a size more than 320,000 DWT.  Called Super Tankers, ULCCs are used for long-haul oil crude transportation from Middle East to Europe, Asia, and North America.

Ultra Large Crude Carriers
 
Comparison of Tanker sizes