A ship is a type of large vehicle that travels on water, it is a type of watercraft that travels on oceans and other sufficiently deep waters, transporting goods, passengers or to carry out special missions like defense, research, fishing etc. ships are differentiated from boats by their size, shape, capacity and tradition. A ship used to be defined by its sail span of at least three square rigged masts and a full bow spit.

Ships have being used by man from an early time for different purposes like exploration, trade, warfare, migration, colonization and science; till now shipping is responsible for the largest portion of world commerce.

There is no definite difference between ships and boats but there are some characteristics that separates them: ships are generally larger than boats and also ships can travel for longer periods of time and further distances than boats. Also a ship can carry a boat but a boat cannot carry a ship. A US Navy rule of thumb is that ships heel towards the outside of a sharp turn, whereas boats heel towards the inside because of their center of mass and buoyancy. Some large vessels are referred to as boats; submarines, freighters, riverboats and ferryboats, these vessels are able to carry their own boats and heavy cargo but they are designed for operation on inland and coastal waters; In most maritime traditions ships have individual names, and modern ships may belong to a ship class often named after its first ship.


There are several different types of ships existing in the maritime world, they include:

Container ships

Bulk carriers


Ferries and Cruise ships

Specialist ships



Bulk Carrier in lagos

A bulk carrier is a type of ship used to transport large quantity of cargo; it is usually loose cargo i.e. cargo without any specific packaging: food grains, ores, coal, cement. Bulk carriers have gone through many upgrades and streamlining since the mid-19th century they came into use for operational ease. Bulk carriers can now carry dry cargo as well as liquefied cargo like oil, petrol and other liquid chemicals. Although bulk carriers have been in use since the mid-19th century, the appropriate definition and interpretation can be found in the SOLAS convention but other interpretations have added over time.

Bulk carriers can carry a maximum cargo of around 400,000 DWT, bulk carriers are subdivided into six major classes depending on their cargo capacity and the water ways they are suitable for:

Very Large Carriers

Cape size



Handy size

Small sized

There are other modes of classifications but they do not form a part of the international shipping domain but are restricted to certain geographical shipping arenas. Bulk carriers are vital to the maritime sector and with better management of the safety and health o the crewmen and the vessels, they will continue to be a part of the maritime sector for a long time.



Cruise Ship in Lagos Nigeria

These are large luxury ships that are used primarily for pleasure voyages, they are not used for transportation like ocean liners, and they take round trips to several port of calls where passengers go on tours or on cruises to nowhere, where cruise ships make two to three night round trips without visiting any ports of call. With the advent of passenger planes, passengers began to prefer the much shorter air travel rather than sea voyages that could typically take days and even months to get to their destination. There was a shift in passenger preference and only ardent fan took the long sea voyages.

This situation brought about the advent of the cruise ship, something different was needed to pique the interest of people in sea voyages again and cruise ships served the purpose perfectly. They gained popularity because the voyages were usually short with stoppages at exotic locations and the ships were designed with more room for an open space that exuded extravagance, it was like a floating hotel.

Cruise ships boasts of facilities like great dining services, casinos, spas, fitness centers, cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and even clubs. They offer the best hospitality services with natural views of the ocean.



Cargo Ships in Lagos Nigeria

Cargo ships sometimes can also be called freighters, they are merchant ships used to carry cargo from one port to another. Cargo ships are responsible for a large portion of international trade; they are usually specially equipped with cranes and other mechanisms to load and unload cargo and they come in several sizes. Modern cargo ships are usually built with welded steel and generally have a life expectancy of 25 to 35 years.

Modern day cargo ships are strongly built to withstand the toughest weather conditions, optimize space and increase container capacity and their special equipment make their operations swift and efficient.

There are four main categories of cargo ships based on the type of cargo they carry: general cargo vessels, multipurpose vessels, dry bulk carriers and tankers. They can also be classified as liners or tramps ships. Liners have a fixed pre scheduled route and charged tariffs, tramp vessels do not follow any pre-determined schedule or route and can be chartered by various users to carry their good at a contractual price.

There are several types of cargo ships:

  1. General cargo vessels

General cargo vessels carry packaged items like chemicals, foods, furniture, machinery, motor- and military vehicles, footwear, garments, etc.

  1. Container ships

Container ships carry all of their load in truck-size intermodal containers, in a technique called containerization. They are a common means of commercial intermodal freight transport and now carry most seagoing non-bulk cargo. Container ship capacity is measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU)

  1. Tankers

Tankers carry petroleum products or other liquid cargo.

  1. Dry bulk carriers

Dry bulk carriers carry coal, grain, ore and other similar products in loose form.

  1. Multi-purpose vessels

Multi-purpose vessels, as the name suggests, carry different classes of cargo – e.g. liquid and general cargo – at the same time.

  1. Reefer ships

A Reefer, Reefer ships (or Refrigerated) ship is specifically designed[2] and used for shipping perishable commodities which require temperature-controlled, mostly fruits, meat, fish, vegetables, dairy products and other foodstuffs.

  1. Roll-on/roll-off vessels

These are ships are designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars, that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels.



Tanker Ship

These are ships designed to carry or store liquids or gases in bulk quantities; the main types of tankers include oil tankers, chemical tankers and gas carriers. Tankers can also be used to carry other goods like vegetable oil, molasses and wine. Tankers range in capacity from several hundred tons to several hundred thousand tons. There are also specialized inland waterway tankers that operate on rivers and canals with an average capacity of up to thousands of tons.

Tanker vessels are designed for transporting liquefied goods such as crude oil, petroleum, LNG, LPG, wine, bitumen etc.,

Tankers came into use in the later years of the 19th century as there was no technology to support the idea of carrying liquid in bulk. It posed several problems;

Ships were made of timber and were not completely water, oil or air tight to prevent leaking or spoiling

To load or unload liquid cargo, it had to be pumped, this problem was solved by the development of efficient pumps and piping systems.

The free surface effect: the presence of a large body of liquid on a ship will affect its stability when kit is flowing around in the tanks due to the movement of the ship. This problem was solved by extensive subdivision of the tanks.

Due to technological advances, tankers are now the main mode of transporting liquefied goods around the world. About 30% of all the merchant good in the world are tankers.

The oil industry was the first to use tankers to carry refined fuel in bulk from refineries to customers, the use of tankers became popular because other liquids were cheaper to carry bulk, store in dedicated terminals and then subdivide.

Tanker sizes are measured in DWT( dead weight tons) and are classified according to sizes as follows: Seawaymax, Panamax, Aframax, Suezmax, VLCC (Very large crude carrier) and ULCC (ultra large crude carrier).




Oil tankers are ships designed to transport oil; or its products in bulk. The two basic types of oil tankers are crude tankers and product tankers; crude tankers transport crude oil in large quantities from point of extraction to refineries. Product tankers are used to transport refined products from refineries to points near consumer markets.

They can be classified based on their size as well as their purposes; inland or coastal tanker of a few thousand metric tons of deadweight (DWT) to Ultra crude carriers (ULCCS) of 550000 DWT.

Tankers are second only to pipelines when it comes to efficiency.



container ship in Lagos Nigeria

Very large crude carriers (VLCC) and Ultra large crude carriers (ULCC).These are the largest operating cargo vessels in the world. These oil tankers are very vital to the shipping industry to transport large quantities of crude oil across the world. They have sizes in excess 250,000 DWT for VLCC and between 250,000 to 500,000 DWT for ULCC; they are capable of carrying huge amounts of crude oil of up to two billion barrels of oil in a single trip; they are also known as supertankers because of their mammoth weight carrying capacity. The capacity of these ships limits the number of trips required to ferry a specified number of containers


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