Alongside -- The side of a vessel.


Barrel -- A measurement term that refers to 42 gallons of liquid at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.56 degrees Celsius).

Berth -- The structure where a vessel is secured for the loading and unloading cargo.

Bonded Warehouse -- A warehouse authorized by customs authorities for the storage of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods are removed.

Bow -- The front of a vessel. Also see "stern."

Breakbulk Cargo -- Loose, non-containerized products. Examples include steel slabs and coils.

Bulk Cargo -- Loose cargo shipped in the cargo hold of a vessel without mark and count. Examples include coal, grain and sulfur.

Bunker -- A maritime term that refers to fuel used aboard a vessel.


Cargo -- Freight loaded into a vessel.

Cargo Manifest -- A list of all cargo carried on a specific vessel voyage.

Cargo Tonnage -- Most ocean freight is billed on the basis of weight or measurement tons (W/M). Weight tons can be expressed in short tons of 2,000 pounds, long tons of 2,240 pounds or metric tons of 1,000 kilos (2204.62 pounds). Measurement tons are usually expressed in cargo measurements of cubic feet (one cubic foot equals 0.03 cubic meters) or cubic meters (one cubic meter equals 35.31 cubic feet). Typically, 40 cubic feet (1.13 cubic meters) is the measurement standard.

Carrier -- Any person or entity who, in a contract of carriage, undertakes to perform or procure the performance of carriage by rail, road, sea, air, inland waterway or by a combination of such transportation modes.

Chassis -- A frame with wheels and container-locking devices in order to secure the container for movement.

Container -- A truck trailer body that can be detached from the chassis for loading into a vessel, a railcar, or stacked in a container depot. Containers may be ventilated, insulated, refrigerated, flat rack, vehicle rack, open top, bulk liquid or equipped with interior devices. A container may be 20 feet (6.1 meters), 40 feet (12.19 meters), 45 feet (13.72 meters), 48 feet (14.63 meters) or 53 feet (16.15 meters) in length, eight feet (2.44 meters) or eight feet, six inches (2.59 meters) in width, and eight feet, six inches (2.59 meters) or nine feet, six inches (2.9 meters) in height.

Container Freight Station (CFS) -- A shipping dock where cargo is loaded ("stuffed") into or unloaded ("stripped") from containers. Container reloading from/to rail or motor carrier equipment is a typical activity.

Container Terminal -- An area designated for the stowage of cargo in containers. Usually accessible by truck, railroad and marine transportation, the terminal is where containers are picked up, dropped off, maintained and stored.

Containerization -- Stowage of general or special cargo in a container for transport in various modes.

Container Load -- A cargo load sufficient in size to fill a container either by cubic measurement or by weight.

Container Port -- A seaport that features cargo terminals developed specifically to handle marine cargo containers.


Dock -- For ships, a cargo-handling area where a vessel normally ties up. For land transportation, a loading or unloading platform at an industrial location or carrier terminal.

Doublestack Train -- A train using specialized railcars that enable marine cargo containers to be stacked one atop another.

Draft -- The number of feet (or meters) that the hull of a ship is beneath the surface of the water.

Dry Bulk Container -- A container constructed to carry grain, powder and other free-flowing solids in bulk. Used in conjunction with a tilt chassis or platform.

Dry Cargo -- Cargo that is solid in nature and normally does not require temperature control.


Export -- Shipment of goods to a foreign country.


Feeder Service -- Cargo to/from regional ports are transferred to/from a central hub port for a long-haul ocean voyage.

Feeder Vessel -- A short-sea vessel that transfers cargo between a central hub port and smaller spoke ports.

FEUs -- Maritime abbreviation for "40-foot equivalent units," which refers to containers that are 40 feet (12.19 meters) in length. One FEU is equal to two TEUs, or "20-foot equivalent units." See "TEUs."

Flat Car -- A railcar without a roof and walls.

Flat Rack/Flat Bed Container -- A container with no sides and frame members at the front and rear for cargo loading from the sides and top.

Foreign-Trade Zone -- A free port in a country divorced from Customs authority but under government control. Merchandise, except that which is prohibited, may be stored in the zone without being subject to import duty regulations.

Free Port -- A restricted area at a seaport used for the handling of duty-exempt import goods.

Freight -- Refers to either the cargo carried or the charges assessed for carriage of cargo.

Freight Forwarder -- A person whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of the shipper. A freight forwarder frequently makes the booking reservation.


Gateway -- A point at which freight moving from one territory to another is interchanged between transportation lines.

Gross Weight -- The entire weight of goods, packaging, container and freight car, ready for shipment. Generally, the combined weight limit of the cargo, container and tractor for highway transport is 80,000 pounds (36,287.39 kilograms).


Hatch -- The opening in the deck of a vessel, providing access to the cargo hold.


Import -- Shipment of goods from a foreign country.

Inland Carrier -- A transportation line that hauls export or import traffic between ports and inland points.

Intermodal -- A shipping term denoting the interchangeable movement of cargo containers between different modes of transportation, primarily ship, truck and train, where the equipment is compatible with the multiple transport systems.


Jacob's Ladder -- A rope ladder suspended from the side of a vessel that is used for boarding.

Just In Time (JIT) -- In this method of inventory control, warehousing is minimal or non-existent: The container is a "movable" warehouse and must arrive neither too early nor too late


Knot -- One knot is equal to one nautical mile (6,076 feet or 1,851.96 meters) per hour. In the early sailing days, speed was measured by tossing overboard a log secured by a line. Knots were tied into the line at intervals of approximately six feet (1.83 meters). The number of knots measured was then compared to the time required to travel the distance of 1,000 knots in the line.


Laden -- Loaded aboard a vessel.

Landbridge -- The movement of cargo, by water, from one country through the port of another country, by rail or truck, to an inland point in that country or to a third country. For example, cargo from Japan is landbridged across the United States to France.

Liquid Bulk -- Cargo that is fluid in nature and typically transported in tankers. Examples include oil and other petroleum products.

Longshoreman -- An individual employed in a port to load and unload cargo vessels.

Loose -- Without packing.


Maritime -- Business pertaining to commerce or navigation transacted upon the sea or in seaports.

Meter -- One meter is equal in length to 3.28 feet or 39.37 inches.

Metric Ton -- One metric ton is equal in weight to 2,204.62 pounds or 1,000 kilograms.

Mile -- One mile is equal to 5,280 feet or 1.61 kilometers on land. Also see "nautical mile."

Mini-Landbridge -- An intermodal system for transporting containers by ocean and then by rail or motor to a port previously served as an all-water move. For example, cargo from China is mini-landbridged through Seattle to New York.

Multimodal -- Synonymous with "intermodal" for all practical purposes.


Nautical Mile -- One nautical mile is equal in length to 607,612 feet or 1.85 kilometers, which is the distance of one minute of longitude measured at the equator. Also see "mile."

Near-Dock Railyard -- A cargo facility used primarily to sort marine cargo containers and assemble into trainloads bound for common destinations. These railyards are located inland, in close proximity to a port waterfront.

Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) -- A cargo consolidator in ocean trades that will buy space from a carrier and subsell it to smaller shippers. The NVOCC conducts itself as an ocean carrier, except that it will not provide the actual ocean or intermodal service.


On-Dock Railyard -- A cargo facility used primarily to sort marine cargo containers and assemble them into trainloads bound for common destinations. These railyards are located on a port waterfront.

Origin -- The location where a freight shipment begins its movement.

Overheight Cargo -- Freight that is more than eight feet high, or too tall to fit into a standard container.


Pallet -- A platform with or without sides, on which a number of packages or pieces may be loaded to facilitate handling by a forklift or similar functioning equipment.

Pier -- The structure where a vessel is secured for the loading and unloading cargo.

Piggyback -- A transportation arrangement whereby truck trailers and their loads are carried and moved by train to a destination.

Port -- There are three common definitions:
1. A harbor with piers or docks.
2. The left side of a ship when facing the bow. Also see "starboard."
3. An opening in a vessel's side, used for handling freight.

Port of Call -- A port where a vessel discharges or receives freight.

Port of Entry -- A port where cargo enters a country and is unloaded.

Port of Exit -- A port where cargo is loaded and leaves a country.


Quay -- A structure attached to land to which a vessel is moored. Also see "berth," "dock" and "pier."


Ramp -- A railroad terminal where containers are received or delivered and trains are loaded or discharged.

Reefer -- An industry term for a refrigerated or temperature-controlled container.

Relay -- The transfer of containers from one ship to another when both vessels are controlled by the same network (carrier) manager.

Revenue Ton -- A ton measurement on which shipments are freighted. If cargo is rated as weight or measure (W/M), whichever produces the higher revenue will be considered the revenue ton. Weights are based on metric tons and measures are based on cubic meters. Hence, one revenue ton is equal to one metric ton (2204.62 pounds) or one cubic meter (35.31 cubic feet).

Roll-on Roll-off (Ro/Ro) -- A method of ocean cargo service using a vessel with ramps, which allow wheeled containers, trailers or vehicles to be loaded and unloaded without the use of cranes.


Service -- A string of vessels that makes a particular voyage and serves a particular market.

Ship Chandler -- An individual or company selling equipment and supplies to ships.

Shipper -- The person or company who usually is the supplier or owner of commodities shipped. Also called the consignor.

Ships -- There are nine basic types of ships:
1. Barge Carriers -- Ships designed to transport barges.
2. Bulk Carriers -- All vessels designed to carry bulk cargo, such as grain, fertilizers, ore and oil.
3. Combination Passenger and Cargo Ships -- Cargo vessels with the capacity for 13 or more passengers.
4. Freighters -- Comprises refrigerated and unrefrigerated breakbulk vessels, containerships, partial containerships, roll-on roll-off vessels and barge carriers. 
5. Full Containerships
 -- Vessels equipped with permanent container cells for container storage, with little or no space for other types of cargo.
6. General Cargo Carriers -- This category includes breakbulk freighters, car carriers, cattle carriers, pallet carriers and timber carriers.
7. Partial Containerships -- Multipurpose containerships with one or more, but not all, cargo compartments fitted with permanent container cells. The remaining compartments are used for noncontainerized cargo.
8. Roll-on Roll-off vessels -- Specialized ships designed to carry wheeled containers, trailers and vehicles using onboard ramps.
9. Tankers -- Ships fitted with tanks for storage of liquid cargo, such as crude petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, liquefied gas, wine and molasses.

Short Ton -- One short ton is equal in weight to 2,000 pounds or 0.91 metric tons.

Side Loader -- A lift truck fitted with lifting attachments operating on one side for handling containers.

Slip -- A ship's berth between two piers.

Spreader -- Equipment designed to lift containers by their corner casters.

Stack Car -- An articulated five-platform railcar that allows containers to be doublestacked one atop another.

Stack Train -- A rail service whereby railcars carry containers doublestacked on specially operated unit trains.

Starboard -- The right side of a ship when facing the bow. Also see "port."

Stern -- The end of a vessel. Also see "bow."

Stevedore -- A person or company that employs longshore workers and establishes agreements to load or unload ships.

Stowage -- A marine term that refers to loading freight into vessels' cargo holds.

Straddle Carrier -- Mobile truck equipment that is capable of lifting containers within its own framework.

Supply Chain -- A logistical management system that integrates the sequence of activities from delivery of raw materials to the manufacturer to delivery of the finished product to the customer. "Just in time" is an example of supply chain management.


Tariff -- A publication that sets forth the charges, rates and rules of ports and transportation companies.

Terminal -- An assigned area where containers are prepared for loading into a vessel, train or truck, or are stored immediately after discharge from the vessel, train or truck.

TEUs -- Maritime abbreviation for "20-foot equivalent units," which refers to containers that are 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length. Two TEUs are equal to one FEU. Also see "FEU."

Transship -- To transfer goods from one transportation line to another, or from one ship to another.

Turnaround -- In water transportation, the time between the arrival and departure of a ship from a port.


Unit Load -- Packages loaded onto a pallet, in a crate or any other way that enables them to be handled at one time as a unit.

Unit Train -- A train comprising a specified number of railcars that remain together as a unit until reaching a designated destination.

Unitization -- The consolidation of a quantity of individual items into one large shipping unit to facilitate handling. Also: The loading of one or more large items of cargo onto a single piece of equipment, such as a pallet.


Vanning -- A marine term for stowing cargo in a container


Warehouse -- A place for the reception, delivery, consolidation, distribution and storage of cargo.

Warehousing -- The storage of cargo.

Weights and Measures --
1. One cubic meter is equal to 35.31 cubic feet.
2. One long ton, or gross ton, is equal to 2,240 pounds or 1,016.05 kilograms.
3. One measurement ton is equal to 40 cubic feet or one cubic meter.
4. One metric ton, or kilo ton, is equal to 2,204.62 pounds or 1,000 kilograms.
5. One short ton, or net ton, is equal to 2,000 pounds or 907.18 kilograms


Yard -- This term commonly refers to a railroad yard with many rail tracks for assembling, storing or switching freight trains.

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