Shipping terminologies for your guidance

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The tag marking the cargo. Hazardous cargoes have their own specific labels that must follow the shipment.



On board a ship, all 'stairs' are called ladders, except for literal staircases aboard passenger ships. Most 'stairs' on a ship are narrow and nearly vertical, hence the name.



From the verb to lade; loaded aboard a vessel.


Laden Vessel

For more information see Loaded Vessel.



Refers to the freight shipped. The contents of a shipment.



Cargo or equipment to which an identifying marker or buoy is fastened, thrown over-board in times of danger to lighten a ship's load. Under maritime law, if the goods are later found they must be returned to the owner whose marker is attached; the owner must make a salvage payment.



North American Great Lakes slang for a vessel which spends all its time on the five Great Lakes.


Land lubber

A term to describe a person unfamiliar with being on the sea.



The movement of cargo by water from one country through the port of another country, then using rail or truck, to an inland point in that country or to a third country. For example: a through movement of Asian cargo to Europe across North America.


Landed Cost

The total cost of a good to a buyer, including the cost of transportation.


Landing Gear

A support fitted on the front part of a chassis (which is retractable). It is used to support the front end of a chassis when the tractor has been removed.



Primarily used to indicate the cargo capacity of a roll-on/roll-off car carrier. It is one meter of deck with a width of 2.5 to 3.0 metres.



A rope that ties something off.



An obsolete term for the left side of a ship. It is derived from 'lay-board' providing access between a ship and a quay, when ships normally docked with the left side to the wharf. Replaced by port side or port, to avoid confusion with starboard.



For more information see by and large.


Lash (to)

To hold goods in position by the use of wires, ropes, chains and straps.


Lateral system

A system of aids to navigation in which characteristics of buoys and beacons indicate the sides of the channel or route relative to a conventional direction of buoyage (usually upstream).



To come and go; used in giving orders to the crew, such as 'lay forward' or 'lay aloft'. To direct the course of vessel. Also, to twist the strands of a rope together.


Lay Days

The dates between which a chartered vessel is to be available in a port for loading of cargo.



Laydays/Cancelling (date); range of dates within which the hire contract must start.


Laying Down

Beginning construction in a shipyard.



A small stowage locker at the aft end of a boat.



A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. Until 1908, lazarets were also used for disinfecting postal items, usually by fumigation. A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the Beggar.



A unit of length, normally equal to three nautical miles.


Leakage and breakage
(Lkg. & Bkg.)

Leakage and breakage



A contract by which one party gives to another party the use of property or equipment, e.g. containers, for a specified time against fixed payments.


Lee Shore

A shore downwind of a ship. A ship which cannot sail well to windward risks being blown onto a lee shore and grounded.


Lee Side

The side of a ship sheltered from the wind (which is known as the weather side).



The aft or trailing edge of a fore-and-aft sail; the leeward edge of a spinnaker; a vertical edge of a square sail. The leech is susceptible to twist, which is controlled by the boom vang and mainsheet.



In the direction that the wind is blowing towards.



The amount that a ship is blown leeward by the wind. For more information see 'weatherly'.


Legal Weight

The weight of the goods plus any immediate wrappings which are sold along with the goods e.g., the weight of a tin can as well as its contents.

For more information see 'Gross Weight'.


Length Overall

The full length of a ship.


Less than containerload

The quantity of freight which is less than that required for the application of a container load rate. Loose freight.


Less than container-load

This refers to shipments that do not completely fill a container and are, therefore, combined with other shipments at a warehouse to fill a container; sometimes referred to as LTL (less-than Trailer Load).


Less than truckload

The quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload rate.


Let go and haul

An order indicating that the ship is in line with the wind.


Letter of Credit

A conditional bank guarantee.

Ls/Cs are financial documents issued by banks, at the request of a consignee, guaranteeing payment to the shipper of the cargo provided that certain terms and conditions are fulfilled. Normally a L/C contains a brief description of the goods, the documents required, a shipping date, and an expiration date after which payment will no longer be made.

An Irrevocable Letter of Credit is one which obligates the issuing bank to pay the exporter when all terms and conditions of the L/C have been met. None of the terms and conditions may be changed without the consent of all the parties to the L/C.

A Revocable Letter of Credit is subject to possible recall or amendment at the option of the applicant, without the approval of the beneficiary.

A Confirmed Letter of Credit is issued by a foreign bank with its validity confirmed by a US bank. An exporter who requires a confirmed L/C from the buyer is assured payment from the US bank in case the foreign buyer or bank defaults.

A Documentary Letter of Credit is one for which the issuing bank stipulates that certain documents must accompany a draft. The documents assure the applicant (importer) that the merchandise has been shipped and that title to the goods has been transferred to the importer.


Letter of Indemnity

The guarantee from the shipper or consignee to indemnify a carrier for costs and/or loss, if any, in order to obtain favourable action by the carrier, e.g. sometimes, it is used to allow the consignee to take delivery of goods without surrendering the B/L which has been delayed or become lost.

On export shipments, some carriers may permit shippers to issue Letters of Indemnity to the carriers in order to secure from them clean bills of lading in place of foul, however the risk is then high that the Letter of Indemnity is found unenforceable by a court.


Letter of Marque and Reprisal

A warrant granted to a privateer condoning specific acts of piracy against a target as a redress for grievances.



Legal responsibility for the consequences of certain acts or omissions.



A legal claim upon goods for the satisfaction of some debt or duty.


Lifebelt, lifejacket, life preserver or 'Mae West'

A device such as a buoyant ring or inflatable jacket which keeps a person afloat in the water.



Shipboard lifeboat, kept on board a vessel and used to take crew and passengers to safety in the event of the ship being abandoned.

Rescue lifeboat, usually launched from shore, used to rescue people from the water or from vessels in difficulty.



An inflatable, covered raft, used in the event of a vessel being abandoned.



This is breakbulk cargo that can be lifted on and off the vessel by cranes and derricks.



The process by which a vessel discharges part of its cargo at anchor into a lighter to reduce the vessel's draft so it can then get alongside a pier.



An open or covered barge towed by a tugboat and used mainly in harbours and inland waterways to carry cargo to/from alongside a vessel.


Lighter Aboard Ship (1)

A specially constructed vessel, equipped with an overhead crane, for lifting custom-designed barges and stowing them into cellular slots in an athwartship position.


Lighter aboard ship

The acronym for 'Lighter Aboard Ship'. This system refers to the practice of loading barges (lighters) aboard a larger vessel for transport.

It was developed in response to a need to transport lighters, a type of unpowered barge, between inland waterways separated by open seas. Lighters are typically towed or pushed around harbors, canals or rivers and cannot be relocated under their own power.

The carrier ships are known variously as LASH carriers, barge carriers, kangaroo ships or lighter transport ships.


Lighterage (1)




This refers to the carriage of goods by lighter and the charge assessed thereafter.



The weight of an empty vessel, including equipment and outfit, spare parts required by the regulatory bodies, machinery in working condition and liquids in the systems, but excluding liquids in the storage tanks, stores and crew.



The correct nautical term for the majority of the cordage or 'ropes' used on a vessel. A line will always have a more specific name, such as mizzen topsail halyard, which describes its use.



Ship of the line: a major warship capable of taking its place in the main (battle) line of fighting ships. Hence the modern term for prestigious passenger vessels: ocean liner.

A cargo vessel sailing between specified ports on a regular basis.


Liner Conference

A group of two or more vessel-operating carriers, which provides international liner services for the carriage of cargo on a particular trade route and which has an agreement or arrangement to operate under uniform or common freight rates and any other agreed conditions.


Liner In Free Out

A transport condition denoting that the freight rate is inclusive of the sea carriage and the cost of loading; the latter as per the custom of the port. It excludes the cost of discharging.


Liquefied natural Gas

Natural gas will liquefy at a temperature of approximately -259 F or -160 C at atmospheric pressure. One cubic foot of liquefied gas will expand to approximately 600 cubic feet of gas at atmospheric pressure.



The finalisation of a customs entry.



The vessel's angle of lean or tilt to one side, in degrees, in the direction called roll.



Common farm animals


Lloyd's of London

Lloyd's, also known as Lloyd's of London, is a British insurance market. The Society of Lloyd's was incorporated by Lloyd's Act 1871.

Unlike most of its competitors in the reinsurance market, it is not a company.

It serves as a meeting place where multiple financial backers, underwriters, or 'members', whether individuals (traditionally known as 'Names') or corporations, come together to pool and spread risk.


Lloyds' Registry

The Lloyd's Register Group is a maritime classification society and independent risk management organisation providing risk assessment and mitigation services and management systems certification. Historically, as Lloyd's Register of Shipping, it was a specifically maritime organisation. In the late 20th century it diversified into other sectors, including oil & gas, process industries, nuclear and rail.

Like the famous international insurance market, Lloyd's of London, Lloyd's Register owes its name and foundation to the 17th century coffee house in London frequented by merchants, marine underwriters, and others, all connected with shipping. The owner, Edward Lloyd, helped them to exchange information by circulating a printed sheet of all the news he heard. In 1760, the Register Society was formed by the customers of the coffee house.

Other than this historical connection, Lloyd's Register is unrelated to Lloyd's of London.


LNGC (LNG Carrier)
(LNG Carrier)

An ocean-going ship specially constructed to carry LNG in tanks at 160 C. The current average carrying capacity of LNGs is 143,000 cubic metres. However the largest LNGCs developed by Qatargas - known as Q-Flex and Q-Max - can carry between 210,000 and 266,000 cubic metres of liquefied natural gas.



The freight in a vehicle or container.


Load Line

The waterline corresponding to the maximum draft to which a vessel is permitted to load, either by freeboard regulations, the conditions of classification, or the conditions of service. For more information see 'Plimsoll Mark'.


Load Ratio

The ratio of loaded miles to empty miles per tractor.


Loaded to the gunwales

A term which literally means having cargo loaded as high as the ship's rail. It is also a colloquial meaning for feeling extremely drunk.


Loaded Vessel

A vessel where cargo has been put on board.


Loading Time

The maximum permissible time for loading or unloading cargo.



Any named geographical place, recognised by a competent national body, with permanent facilities used for goods movements associated with international trade, and used frequently for these purposes.

Geographical place such as a port, an airport, an inland freight terminal, a container freight station, a container yard, a container depot, a terminal or any other place where customs clearance and/or regular receipt or delivery of goods can take place.

Geographical place such as a port, an airport, an inland freight terminal, a container freight station, a container yard, a container depot, a terminal or any other place where customs clearance and/or regular receipt or delivery of goods can take place.



For marine purposes this is a space, enclosed at the sides by walls and at each end by gates, by which a vessel can be floated up or down to a different level. The Panama and Suez canals have many locks, for instance.



An iron ball attached to a long handle, used for driving caulking into seams and (occasionally) in a fight. Hence the saying: 'at loggerheads'.


Long Ton

The U.S. imperial weight value of 2,240 pounds.


Long ton (1)
(l. t. or l. tn.)

Long ton



Stevedore, dock worker; an individual employed locally in a port to load and unload ships.



Without packing.


Loose cannon

An irresponsible and reckless individual whose behaviour (either intended or unintended) endangers the group he or she belongs to. A loose cannon, weighing thousands of pounds, would crush anything and anyone in its path, and possibly even break a hole in the hull, thus endangering the seaworthiness of the whole ship.


Loose footed

A mainsail that is not connected to a boom along its foot.


Los Angeles Export Terminal

Los Angeles Export Terminal


Loss and damage

Loss and damage



A trailer or semi-trailer with no sides and with the floor of the unit close to the ground to allow for the transport of overheight pieces.


Lubber's line

A vertical line inside a compass case indicating the direction of the ship's head.



The forward edge of a sail.


Luff up

To steer a sailing vessel more towards the direction of the wind until the pressure is eased on the [sheet].



When a sailing vessel is steered far enough to windward that the sail is no longer completely filled with wind (the luff of a fore-and-aft sail begins to flap first).

Loosening a sheet so far past optimal trim that the sail is no longer completely filled with wind.

The flapping of the sail(s) which results from having no wind in the sail at all.


Lump Sum

An agreed sum of money, which is paid in full settlement at one time.


Lump Sum Charter

A voyage charter whereby the ship-owner agrees to place the whole or a part of the vessel's capacity at the charterer's disposal for which a lump-sum freight is being paid.


Lying ahull

The act of waiting out a storm by dousing all sails and simply letting the boat drift.