Shipping terminologies for your guidance

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The spar that holds the upper edge of a four-sided fore-and-aft mounted sail.

A hook on a long pole to haul fish in.


Gaff rigged

A boat rigged with a four-sided fore-and-aft sail with its upper edge supported by a spar or gaff which extends aft from the mast.



The kitchen of the ship.



A meeting of two (or more) whaling ships at sea. The ships each send out a boat to the other, and the two captains meet on one ship, while the two chief mates meet on the other.


Gammon Iron

The bow fitting which clamps the bowsprit to the stem.



A group of stevedores usually four to five members acting together with a supervisor assigned to a hold or portion of the vessel being loaded or unloaded.



A movable bridge used in boarding or leaving a ship at a pier; also known as a "brow".



An opening in the bulwark of the ship allowing passengers to board or leave the ship.



The (illegal) practice of mixing cargo with garbage.



The strake closest to the keel (from the Dutch term 'gaarboard').


Garboard planks

The planks immediately either side of the keel.



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


General agreement on tariffs and trade

A multilateral treaty to help reduce trade barriers between the signatory countries and to promote trade through tariff concessions. The World Trade Organization (WTO) superseded GATT in 1994.


General Average

Marine Insurance term; Average in maritime commerce to signify damages or expenses resulting from the accidents of navigation. Average is either general or particular.

The term average originally meant what is now distinguished as general average; and the expression particular average


General Cargo

Cargo, consisting of goods, unpacked or packed, for example in cartons, crates, bags or bales, often palletised. General cargo can be shipped either in breakbulk or containerised.

Any consignment other than a consignment containing valuable cargo and charged for transport at general cargo rates (air cargo).


General Cargo Rate

The rate for the carriage of cargo other than a class rate or specific commodity rate.


General destination License

Term from U.S.A: General Destination License, used on export declarations for unrestricted commodities (the majority of all items exported).


General Export License

Any of the various export licenses covering export commodities for which validated export licenses are not required. No formal application or written authorisation is needed to ship exports under a general export license.


General License Baggage

Term from U.S.A: General License Baggage, used on export declarations for personal effects. No prior written authorisation is required and no individual license is issued.


General Order

The process by which U.S. Customs assumes custody and takes possession of freight not having customs-cleared by the consignee after expiration of Free Time.


General Purpose Container

A container used for the carriage of general cargo without any special requirements for the transport and or the conditioning of the goods (a Standard container).


General Rate Increase

It is used to describe an across-the-board tariff rate increase implemented by conference members and applied to base rates (this definition is still valid in areas where conferences are still legal).

It is also commonly used to describe the ocean freight rate increase settled independently by each carrier.


Generator Set
(Gen set)

While a reefer will have an integral refrigeration unit, they rely on external power, from electrical power points at a land-based site, a container ship or on quay. Whilst being transported by road on a trailer they can be powered by portable diesel-powered generators ('gen sets') which attach to the container whilst on road journeys.


Geneva Conventions 1958

The Geneva Conventions on the High Seas, on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, on the Continental Shelf and on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas, adopted at Geneva on April 29, 1958.


Genoa or genny

A large jib (sail), strongly overlapping the mainmast.


Germanischer Lloyd

The Germanischer Lloyd AG is a classification society based in the city of Hamburg, Germany created on 16th March 1867. A group of 600 shipowners, shipbuilders and insurers met in the big hall of the Hamburg Stock Exchange. As a technical supervisory organization Germanischer Lloyd regularly conducts safety surveys on more than 7,000 ships with over 79,000,000 gross tonnes (GT). Its technical and engineering services also include the mitigation of risks and assurance of legal compliance for oil, gas and industrial installations as well as wind energy plants. The society also certifies the operating performance of companies and performs damage investigations as well as destructive and non-destructive tests of materials.



To sail slowly when there is apparently no wind.


Global Maritime Distress Safety System

An internationally agreed-upon set of safety procedures, types of equipment, and communication protocols used to increase safety and make it easier to rescue distressed ships, boats and aircraft (replaced the Morse Code). GMDSS consists of several systems, some of which are new, but many of which have been in operation for many years. The system is intended to perform the following functions: alerting (including position determination of the unit in distress), search and rescue coordination, locating (homing), maritime safety information broadcasts, general communications, and bridge-to-bridge communications. Specific radio carriage requirements depend upon the ship's area of operation, rather than its tonnage. The system also provides redundant means of distress alerting, and emergency sources of power.


Global Positioning System

A satellite-based radio navigation system providing continuous worldwide coverage. It supplies navigation, position, and timing information to air, marine,and land users.



In the Far East, a warehouse where goods are stored and delivered.


Going about or tacking

Changing from one tack to another by going through the wind (see also gybe). When the ship is ready to go about the helmsman or skipper calls "Ready about"



A common term indicating movable property, merchandise or wares.

All materials which can be used to satisfy demands.

The whole or part of the cargo received from the shipper, including any equipment supplied by the shipper.



U.S.A. : A fitting that attaches the boom to the mast, allowing it to move freely.

The front rails of the chassis raise above its plane and engage in the tunnel of a container.



A 19th century term regarding a fore-and-aft rigged vessel which has the foresail and mainsail set on opposite sides of the vessel. For instance, with the mainsail to port and the jib to starboard, maximising the amount of canvas exposed to the wind. For more information see running.



Small balls of lead fired from a cannon, similar to shotgun shot on a larger scale. Used to hurt people, rather than cause structural damage.



To clean a ship's bottom.


Grid Number

An indication of the position of a container in a bay plan by means of a combination of page number, column and line. The page number often represents the bay number.



Watered-down pusser's rum consisting of half a gill with equal part of water, issued to all seamen over twenty. (CPOs and POs were issued with neat rum).

From the British Admiral Vernon who



Feeling drunk from having consumed a lot of 'grog'.


Gross behicle weight

The combined total weight of a vehicle and its container, inclusive of prime mover.


Gross Registered Tons

A common measurement of the internal volume of a ship with certain spaces excluded. One ton equals 100 cubic feet; the total of all the enclosed spaces within a ship expressed in tons each of which is equivalent to 100 cubic feet.


Gross Ton

A common measurement equivalent to 2,240 pounds.


Gross Tonnage

Gross Tonnage, along with Net Tonnage, was defined by The International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969, adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 1969, and came into force on July 18, 1982.

These two measurements replaced Gross Register Tonnage (GRT) and Net Register Tonnage (NRT).

Gross Tonnage is calculated based on "the moulded volume of all enclosed spaces of the ship" and is used to determine things such as a ship's manning regulations


Gross Weight (1)

The entire weight of goods, packaging and freight car or container, ready for shipment.


Gross weight
(Gr. Wt. / G.W)

Gross weight



The bed of the sea.



Charge for the permission to anchor.



1. When a ship (while afloat) touches the bed of the sea



A consolidation service, putting small shipments into containers for transport.


Gunner's daughter

For more information see 'kissing the gunner's daughter'.



The upper edge of the hull.


Gybe or jibe

To change from one tack to the other away from the wind