Shipping terminologies for your guidance

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P & I Club

A mutual association of shipowners who provide protection against liabilities by means of contributions. The members of the Club share each other's liabilities; the insurer also being the assured.

At present, there are less than 20 P&I Clubs in operation. The major Clubs have joined the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs, forming a pool for reinsurance purposes, as well as giving attention to problems of general concern to members.

The major Clubs are in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Japan and the United States of America.



PSA International Pte Ltd is the second largest port operator in the world. The company's flagship operations are PSA Singapore Terminals, PSA HNN and PSA Marine. In total, PSA operates 28 port projects in 16 countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas, with a global capacity of 111 million TEUs over 66km of quay length.

The Port of Singapore Authority was formed on April 1st, 1964 to take over the functions, assets and liabilities of the Singapore Harbour Board. On August 25th, 1997, a parliamentary bill was passed to corporatise the Port of Singapore Authority, and PSA Corporation Ltd (simplified Chinese: ???????????) was corporatised on October 1st, 1997. PSA restructured in December 2003, with PSA International Pte Ltd (simplified Chinese: PSA??????????) becoming the main holding company for the PSA Group of companies.



Any physical piece of cargo in relation to transport consisting of the contents and its packing for the purpose of ease of handling by manual or mechanical means.

The final product of the packing operation consisting of the packing and its contents to facilitate manual or mechanical handling.


Packed weight

Packed weight


Packing List

An itemised list of commodities with marks/numbers but no cost values indicated.


Paired Ports

A US Customs program wherein at least two designated Customs ports will enter cargo that arrives at either port without the necessity of an inbound document.



A platform (usually two-deck), with or without sides, on which a number of packages or pieces may be loaded to facilitate handling by a lift truck.


Pallet Extender

A metal or cardboard device, designed to increase pallet capacity.


Panamax Size

'Panamax ships' are the largest ships that can pass through the Panama Canal. The size is limited by the dimensions of the lock chambers and the depth of the water in the canal.

Panamax is determined principally by the dimensions of the canal's lock chambers, each of which is 110 ft (33.53 m) wide by 1,050 ft (320.04 m) long, and 85 ft (25.91 m) deep.

Panamax is determined principally by the dimensions of the canal's lock chambers, each of which is 110 ft (33.53 m) wide by 1,050 ft (320.04 m) long, and 85 ft (25.91 m) deep.

Length: 965 ft (294.13 m)

Beam (width): 106 ft (32.31 m)

Draft: 39.5 ft (12.04 m) in tropical fresh water (the salinity and temperature of water affect its density, and hence how deep a ship will float in the water)

Air draft: 190 ft (57.91 m) measured from the waterline to the vessel's highest point

A Panamax cargo ship would typically have a DWT of 65,000-80,000 tonnes and a maximum cargo intake of 52,500 tonnes.

Work is currently underway, however, to increase size of vessels able to navigate the Panama Canal, with the installation of a third set of locks 427 metres long and 55 metres wide. Upon completion , the canal's capacity will have doubled, and estimates suggest boxships of approximately 12,000 TEU-size will be able to traverse its length (typically that number stands at around 5,000 TEU).



The pulsation in and out of the bow and stern plating as the ship alternately rises and plunges deep into the water.


Paper Rate

A published rate that is never assessed because no freight moves under it.


Paperless Release

Under ABI, certain commodities from low-risk countries not designated for examination may be released through an ABI-certified broker without the actual submission of documentation.



A method of lifting a roughly cylindrical object such as a spar. One end of a rope is made fast above the object, a loop of rope is lowered and passed around the object, which can be raised by hauling on the free end of rope.


Parcel Receipt

An arrangement whereby a steamship company, under rules and regulations established in the freight tariff of a given trade, accepts small packages at rates below the minimum bill of lading, and issues a parcel receipt instead of a bill of lading.



A movable loop or collar, used to fasten a yard or gaff to its respective mast. Parrels still allow the spar to be raised or lowered and swivel around the mast. They can be made of wire or rope and fitted with beads to reduce friction.


Part brass rags

A colloquial term used to describe the act of falling out with a friend. From the days when cleaning materials were shared between sailors.


Participating Carrier

A carrier participating in a tariff and who therefore applies the rates, charges, routing and regulations of the tariff.


Particular Average (1)

Marine Insurance term; 'Average' in maritime commerce signifies the damages or expenses resulting from the accidents of navigation.

Average is either general or particular. General average arises when sacrifices have been made, or expenditures incurred, for the preservation of the ship, cargo and freight, from some peril of the sea or from its effects. It implies a subsequent contribution, from all the parties concerned, rateably to the values of their respective interests, to make good the loss thus occasioned.

Particular average is the opposite to this: it arises where damage is sustained by a ship, cargo, or freight but is borne only by the owner of the damaged property and not recompensed by contribution from all interests in the venture.


Particular average

Particular average



A party responsible for the payment as evidenced by the given instrument. Under letters of credit, the payer is the party on whom the draft is drawn; usually the drawee bank.



Filling a seam (with caulking or pitch), lubricating the running rigging; paying with slush (q.v.), protecting from the weather by covering with slush.



The revenue-producing load carried by a means of transport.



The officer responsible for all money matters in Royal Navy ships including the paying and provisioning of the crew, all stores, tools and spare parts. For more information see Purser.


Per Diem

USA; Latin meaning 'per day.' A charge made by one transportation line against another for the use of its equipment, namely the container and its chassis.

The charge is based on a fixed rate per day (which is already the case for the related Demurrage, Detention and Storage).


Perils of the Sea

The causes of loss for which the carrier is not legally liable (i.e. acts of God). These are regarded as elemental risks of ocean transport.


Perishable Cargo

Cargo that is subject to decay or deterioration.


Petroleum, oil and lubricants

Petroleum, oil and lubricants


Phytosanitary Inspection Certificate

A certificate issued by the US Department of Agriculture to satisfy import regulations of foreign countries; indicates that a US shipment has been inspected and found free from harmful pests and plant diseases.



The act of calling for freight by truck at the consignor's shipping platform.



The structure to which a vessel is secured for the purpose of loading and unloading cargo.


Pier-head jump

The scenario of a sailor being drafted to a warship at the last minute, just before she sails.



A shipment loaded into a container at the pier or terminal, then to the consignee's facility.



Containers loaded at port of loading and discharged at port of destination.


Piggy Packer

A mobile container handling crane used to load/unload containers to/from railcars.



A transportation agreement in which truck trailers with their loads are moved by train to a destination. This arrangement is also known as Rail Pegs.



As used in marine insurance policies, the term denotes petty thievery, the taking of small parts of a shipment, as opposed to the theft of a whole shipment or large unit. Many ordinary marine insurance policies do not cover against pilferage, and when this coverage is desired, it must be added to the policy.



The vessel's navigator. An especially knowledgeable person qualified to navigate a vessel through difficult waters, e.g. harbour pilot etc.


Pipe (Bos'n's), or a bos'n's call

A whistle used by Boatswains (bosuns or bos'ns) to issue commands. Consisting of a metal tube which directs the breath over an aperture on the top of a hollow ball to produce high pitched notes.

The pitch of the notes can be changed by partly covering the aperture with the finger of the hand in which the pipe is held. The shape of the instrument is similar to that of a smoking pipe.


Pipe down

A signal on the bosun's pipe to signal the end of the day, requiring lights (and smoking pipes) to be extinguished and silence from the crew.


Piping the side

A salute on the bos'n's pipe(s) performed in the company of the deck watch on the starboard side of the quarterdeck or at the head of the gangway, to welcome or bid farewell to the ship's Captain, senior officers and honoured visitors.



A vessel's motion, rotating about the beam/transverse axis, causing the fore and aft ends to rise and fall repetitively.



To capsize a boat end over end, rather than by rolling over.



A particular street address or other designation of a factory, store, warehouse, place of business, private residence, construction camp or the like, at a point.


Place of Acceptance

See Place of Receipt.


Place of Delivery

A place where cargo leaves the care and custody of the carrier.


Place of Despatch

A name and address specifying where goods are collected or taken over by the carrier (i.e. if other than consignor).


Place of Receipt

A location where cargo enters the care and custody of carrier.


Place of Rest

The term 'Place of Rest', as used in the Containerized Cargo Rules, means the location on the floor, dock, platform or doorway at the CFS to which cargo is first delivered by shipper or agent thereof.



The scenario when a fast-moving vessel skims over the water instead of pushing through it.



The preparation of the discharge/loading of a vessel at the port.


Platform (Container)

A truck or trailer without ends, sides or top but with only the (reinforced) floor of an ISO container.


Plimsoll Mark

A series of horizontal lines painted on the outside of a ship marking the level which must remain above the surface of the water for the vessel's stability.

The purpose of a 'load line' is to ensure that a ship has sufficient freeboard and thus sufficient reserve buoyancy. The freeboard of commercial vessels is measured between the lowest point of the uppermost continuous deck at side and the waterline and this must not be less than the freeboard marked on the Load Line Certificate issued to that ship. All commercial ships, other than in exceptional circumstances, have a load line symbol painted amidships on each side of the ship. This symbol must also be permanently marked, so that if the paint wears off it remains visible. The load line makes it easy for anyone to determine if a ship has been overloaded. The exact location of the Load Line is calculated and/or verified by a Classification Society and that society issues the relevant certificates.

This symbol, also called an international load line or Plimsoll line, indicates the maximum safe draft, and therefore the minimum freeboard for the vessel in various operating conditions.

In the 1860s, after increased loss of ships due to overloading, a British MP, Samuel Plimsoll, took up the load line cause. A Royal commission on unseaworthy ships was established in 1872, and in 1876 the United Kingdom Merchant Shipping Act made the load line mark compulsory, although the positioning of the mark was not fixed by law until 1894. In 1906, laws were passed requiring foreign ships visiting British ports to be marked with a load line. It was not until 1930 (The 1930 Load Line Convention) that there was international agreement for universal application of load line regulations.

In 1966 a Load Lines Convention was held in London which re-examined and amended the 1930 rules. The 1966 Convention has since seen amendments in 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1995 and 2003.

The letters on the Load line marks have the following meanings:

TF - Tropical Fresh Water

F - Fresh Water

T - Tropical Seawater

S - Summer Temperate Seawater

W - Winter Temperate Seawater

WNA - Winter North Atlantic


Poincaré gold franc

One p.g.f. is 65.6 milligrams of gold of millesimal fineness 900 (900 parts pure gold out of 1,000). It was first defined by the French Law of June 25th, 1928 and named after Raymond Poincaré, the French Prime Minister who stabilised the currency of France. The p.g.f. is worth approximately 13 cents Cdn. or 10 cents U.S. approximately.



A particular city, town, village or other community which is treated as a unit for the application of rates.


Point of Origin

The station at which a shipment is received by a carrier from the shipper.


Point to Point Transport

See House to House Transport.


Pomerene Act

Also known as (USA) Federal Bill of Lading Act of 1916. U.S.A. federal law enacting conditions by which a B/L may be issued. Penalties for issuing Bs/L containing false data include monetary fines and/or imprisonment.



A flat-bottomed vessel used as a ferry, barge, car float or a float moored alongside a jetty or a ship to facilitate boarding.



A common supply of containers or of chassis available to the shippers. Units belong to several carriers who share them amongst themselves to alleviate the 'peak and valley' effect on the demand for equipment.


Pool (container)

A permanent positioning of one or more containers at a location to facilitate continuous volume loading.


Pool Agreement

An alliance of companies to share profit from joint (pooled) operations under a certain ratio formula. The shared use of, for example, equipment by a number of companies, which make together the investments in the equipment mentioned.



The aft part of a vessel where the steering engine is located.


Poop deck

A high deck on the aft superstructure of a ship.



Swamped by a high, following sea.




(Port side) Towards the left-hand side of the ship facing forward (formerly Larboard). Denoted with a red light at night.

A harbour with piers or docks.

Opening in a ship's side for handling freight.


Port arrival immediate release and enforcement determination

A US Customs program that allows entry documentation for an import shipment to be filed at one location, usually an inland city, while the merchandise is cleared by Customs at the port of entry, normally a seaport.

Cities where there is a natural flow of cargo are actually 'paired' in the program; e.g., Atlanta, an inland city, is linked with Savannah, a seaport. The program was tested in '87-'88, and became generally available from mid- '88.


Port Authority

A government body (city, county or state) which in international shipping maintains various airports and/or ocean cargo pier facilities, transit sheds, loading equipment warehouses for air cargo, etc. Has the power to levy dockage and wharfage charges, landing fees, etc.


Port of Call

Port where a ship discharges or receives traffic.


Port of Discharge

The port where the cargo is actually discharged (unloaded) from the sea- (ocean-) going vessel.


Port of discharge/destination

Port of discharge/destination


Port of Entry

Port where cargo is unloaded and enters a country.


Port of Exit

Place where cargo loaded and leaves a country.


Port of Loading (1)

Port where cargo is transferred from one vessel to another.


Port of loading

Port of loading


Port Tack

When sailing with the wind coming from the port side of the vessel, ships must give way to boats on starboard tack.


Porthole or port

An opening in a ship's side, especially a round one for admitting light and air, fitted with thick glass and, often, a hinged metal cover, a window.



The transport of empty equipment from a depot to a shipper's premises, or from a consignee's premises back to a depot as the empty leg of a carrier haulage transport.


Power of Attorney

A document that authorises a customs broker to sign all customs documents on behalf of an importer.


Pratique Certificate

A document that lifts the temporary quarantine of a vessel, granted by a Health Officer.



Preliminary advice that a letter of credit has been established in the form of a brief authenticated wire message. It is not an operative instrument and is usually followed by the actual letter of credit.



Inland freight movement on the exporter's side.



The carrier by which the goods are moved prior to its main transport.



A process employed in the shipment of citrus fruits and other perishable commodities. The fruit is packed and placed in a cold room from which the heat is gradually extracted. The boxes of fruit are packed in containers that have been thoroughly cooled and transported through to destination without opening the doors.



Freight paid by the shipper to the carrier when merchandise is tendered for shipment. It is a non-refundable deposit even if the merchandise does not arrive at its intended destination.


Press Gang

A formed body of personnel from a ship of the Royal Navy (either a ship seeking personnel for its own crew or from a 'press tender' seeking men for a number of ships) that would identify and force (press) men, usually merchant sailors into service on naval ships usually against their will.


Preventer (gybe preventer, jibe preventer)

A sail control line originating at some point on the boom leading to a fixed point on the boat's deck or rail (usually a cleat or pad eye) used to prevent or moderate the effects of an accidental jibe.


Prima Facie

The Latin meaning for 'at first sight'. This was a term frequently encountered in foreign trade. When a steamship company issues a clean bill of lading, it acknowledges that the goods were received 'in apparent good order and condition' and this is said by the courts to constitute prima facie evidence of the conditions of the containers; that is, if nothing to the contrary appears, it must be inferred that the cargo was in good condition when received by the carrier.



The person for whom another acts as agent.


Principal Warfare Officer

One of a number of Warfare branch specialist officers.



A privately-owned ship authorised by a national power (by means of a letter of marque) to conduct hostilities against an enemy. Also called a private man of war.


Pro Forma Invoice

A Latin term meaning 'For the sake of form'. An invoice provided by a supplier prior to the shipment of merchandise, informing the buyer of the kinds and quantities of goods to be sent, their value and specifications (weight, size, etc.). Pre-requisite for the establishment of a Letter of Credit.


Pro Rata

A Latin term meaning 'In proportion.'


Project Cargo

Quantity of goods connected to the same project and often carried on different moments and from various places. The term has also become synonymous with breakbulk cargo - i.e. cargo that is too large to be loaded onto a single flat-rack or platform.


Project Rate

Single tariff item, established to move multiple commodities needed for a specified project, usually construction.


Proof of Delivery (1)

The receipt signed by the consignee upon delivery.


Proof of delivery

A document required from the carrier or driver for proper payment.


Propeller walk or prop walk

The tendency for a propeller to push the stern sideways. In theory, a right hand propeller in reverse will walk the stern to port.


Proper Shipping Name

A name to be used to describe particular goods on all documents and notifications and, if appropriate, on the goods. i.e. no brand names. For more information see Harmonized Code.


Protection & indemnity

A marine insurance term.


Protection and indemnity insurance
(P & I Insurance)

Protection and Indemnity Insurance is mutual insurance which covers shipowners' liability to third parties for damage to their ship or cargo, as well as statutory liabilities such as pollution and wreck removal, it but does not cover direct losses to the shipowner's own ship or cargo.

Four classes of coverage are included in P&I:

1. Protection, which covers a shipowner for claims paid in regard to liability for loss of life, personal injury, damage to fixed or floating objects, wreck removal and one-fault collision in liability;

2. Indemnity, which reimburses the shipowner for indemnity given to owners of damaged or lost cargo;

3.War risks;

4. Freight War Risks.



A poetical alternative term for bows, the front of a ship.


Pulp Temperature

The procedure where a carrier tests the temperature of the internal flesh of refrigerated commodities to ensure that the temperature at the time of shipment conforms to prescribed temperature ranges.



Trucking; a short semi-trailer used jointly with a dolly and another semi-trailer to create a twin trailer.



A mechanical method of increasing force, such as a tackle or lever.



Purser; the person who buys, stores and sells all stores on board ships, including victuals, rum and tobacco. Originally a private merchant, latterly a warrant officer. Also, in modern use, a term for the Navy in general (pursers) or a sailor in particular (a purser).