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Dry bulk vessel types and main routes

Shipping Encyclopedia

Dry bulk ships, that is, bulk carriers, or bulkers, are the collective name for ships that load and transport bulk dry bulk cargoes such as grain, coal, ore, salt and cement, and are also customarily called bulk carriers or bulk carriers. Because the bulk carrier has a single type of cargo, it does not need to be packed into bundles, bales or boxes for loading and transportation, and the cargo is not afraid of extrusion and is easy to load and unload, so they are all single-deck ships.

The common dry bulk carriers are mainly as follows.

Handy bulk carrier

Handy bulk carrier is a type of bulk carrier with a deadweight of more than 10,000 tons and less than 40,000 tons, equipped with cranes and handling equipment. The larger Handy bulk carriers have a deadweight of between 40,000 and 60,000 tonnes.

As they are equipped with loading and unloading equipment, have a small deadweight and a relatively shallow draft, they can be adapted to ports with shallow water depths and poor conditions, and are easy to operate and flexible, so they are called handy.

Handysize bulk carriers are mainly built in Japan, Korea, China and Vietnam. The most common industry standard Handysize bulk carrier has a draft of around 10 metres, a deadweight of 32,000 tonnes, five cargo bays and is equipped with hydraulic hatch covers and a 30 tonne crane.

This type of cargo ship, in addition to being common along the coastlines of East and Southeast Asia, is often used for inland navigation in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River basin (e.g. Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chongqing, etc.), and some ships are also specially designed (height, length, width, weight or draft restrictions) to pass through the locks of the Gezhouba Dam and the Three Gorges Dam, with the bridge deck and piers of the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge and the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. .

1、Small Handysize bulk carrier

The deadweight tonnage is from 20,000 tons to 38,000 tons. It is the largest ship type that can pass through the St. Lawrence Seaway and sail into the Great Lakes of the United States, with the maximum length not exceeding 222.5 meters, the maximum width less than 23.1 meters and the maximum draught less than 7.925 meters.

2、Large handymax bulk carrier

The deadweight tonnage is 38,000 to 58,000 tons. This type of vessel is generally equipped with its own loading and unloading equipment, with moderate load capacity and shallow draught, and can carry out loading and unloading operations in some relatively small ports, which is more adaptable. Generally speaking, modern large handy bulk carriers, generally 150 to 200 metres long, with a deadweight of 52,000 to 58,000 tons, five cargo bins, and four 30-ton cranes, generally using a single engine, single propeller drive, cabin placed in the stern, with the increasing requirements for environmental protection and safety, the new ship more double-hull structure. It is reported that from the delivery of 5000-62,000 DWT bulk carriers in recent years, the average deadweight of large handy bulk carriers has developed from 55,554 DWT in 2008 to 57,037 DWT at present.

3、Ultramax bulk carrier

A bulk carrier of more than 58,000 dwt and less than 64,000 dwt.

Panamax bulk carrier

This type of vessel refers to the largest bulk carrier that can pass through the Panama Canal under full load, i.e. mainly satisfies the relevant regulations for canal navigation with an overall length of no more than 274.32m and a beam of no more than 32.30m. The carrying capacity of this type of vessel is generally between 60,000 and 75,000 tons.

Post Panamax bulk carrier

The ship is designed according to the Panama Canal expansion project, with a deadweight of 93,000 tons and a beam of 38 meters.

Capesize ship

Capesize ship is also called capesize ship. It is a dry bulk vessel that can pass the Cape of Good Hope or the southernmost point of the South American continent (Cape Horn) during ocean voyages.

This type of vessel is mainly used to transport iron ore and is known in Taiwan as the "cape" type. As the Suez Canal authorities have relaxed the draught restrictions for ships passing through the canal in recent years, this type of ship can mostly pass through the canal with a full load.

Great Lakes bulk carrier

It is a bulk carrier that sails through the St. Lawrence Seaway on the Great Lakes at the border of the United States and Canada, mainly carrying coal, iron ore and grain. The ship must meet the navigational requirements of the St. Lawrence Seaway, with an overall length of no more than 222.50m, a beam of no more than 23.16m, and no part of the bridge protruding from the hull, a draught of no more than the maximum allowable draught in major waters, and a mast top height of no more than 35.66m from the surface.


The Kamsarmax is a larger vessel than the Panamax, with an overall length of less than 229m, capable of calling at the port of Kalsam (located in the Republic of Guinea, mainly used for loading and unloading bauxite ore).

The Kamsarmax is designed to be the largest bulk carrier capable of entering Kamsar's Guinean port, hence the name Kamsarmax. Kamsar, located in West Africa, has the world's largest bauxite reserves, producing 18 million dwt per year, mainly for export to the USA. The shipyard has developed the new vessel type at the request of the owner to offer very good economics on this route.

Newcastlemax Bulk Carrier

The Newcastlemax is named after the ship that was originally used to transport coal from the port of Newcastle, Australia to Japan. The capacity range of this vessel is from 203,000 dwt to 208,000 dwt. Unlike the dedicated ore carriers, this vessel is closer in form to the Cape of Good Hope bulk carriers and is currently deployed mainly on the China-Australia route.

Small Bulk Carrier】Bulker

Small bulk carriers refer to bulk carriers with a deadweight of less than 10,000 tons.

Very large ore carriers】VLOC

VLOC (Very large ore carriers) have a deadweight tonnage of 190,000 tons to 365,000 tons. They are used only for the long-distance transportation of coal and iron ore. In addition to the VLOCs built for the construction of VLOCs, some of the VLOCs in the market are large ore carriers converted from tankers (also called oil to bulk), and some are built based on the COA of steel mills to carry iron ore. the main VLOC routes are Brazil - China, Japan and Korea, Port Hedland - China, Saldanha Bay - China, etc.

Valemax】also known as Chinamax

Valemax is one of the world's largest bulk carriers, often classified as a VLOC, with a deadweight tonnage between 380,000 and 400,000 tonnes, a length of about 360m, a width of about 65m and a draft of about 25m. Valemax's main routes are Brazil - China, Japan and Korea and Brazil - Sohar/Subic Bay, which are Vale's trans-shipment terminals. In addition, there is the Brazil-Conti.