Shipping terminologies for your guidance

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A large bracket attached firmly to the deck, to which the foot of the mast is fixed. It has two sides or cheeks and a bolt forming the pivot around which the mast is raised and lowered.



A leg of the route of a sailing vessel, particularly in relation to tacking (qv) and to starboard tack and port tack (also qv).

Hard tack: qv.



Zig-zagging so as to sail directly towards the wind (and for some rigs also away from it).

Going about (qv).



A rail at the stern of the boat that covers the head of the counter timbers.



The rear of a container or trailer, where the doors are, opposite the front or nose.



A kind of metallic shafting (a rod of metal) to hold the propeller and connected to the power engine. When the tailshaft is moved, the propeller may also be moved for propulsion.


Taken aback

An inattentive helmsmen might allow the dangerous situation to arise where the wind is blowing into the sails 'backwards', causing a sudden (and possibly dangerous) shift in the position of the sails.


Taking the wind out of his sails

To sail in a way that steals the wind from another ship. This term is also known as to 'overbear'.



The operation of hauling aft the sheets, or drawing them in the direction of the ship's stern.


Tally Sheet

The list of cargo, incoming and outgoing, checked by the tally clerk on dock.


Tank Container

A specialised liquid bulk container used for the transportation of fluids. It is essentially a big cylinder inside an ISO-sized frame made to allow stacking.

Some tanks carry only chemicals, some others only carry food-grade liquids (e.g. milk). Tank containers are mostly shipper-owned, operated by companies who specialise in the transportation of specific types of bulk liquids.



A tanker is a bulk carrier designed to transport liquid cargo, most often petroleum products. Oil tankers vary in size from small coastal vessels of 1,500 tons deadweight, through medium-sized ship of 60,000 tons, to the giant VLCCs (very large crude carriers).


Tare Mass of Container

For more information see Tare Weight of Containers below.


Tare Weight

The weight of packing material that is protecting the actual goods.


Tare Weight of Container

The mass of an empty container, including all fittings and appliances, associated with that particular type of container on its normal operating condition.



A document issued by a carrier setting forth applicable rules, rates, and charges for the movement of goods. It sets up a contract of carriage between the shipper, consignee, and carrier.

In international trade applications, the term also refers to a tax on imports (Customs duty).



Waterproof material, e.g. canvas, used to spread over cargo to protect it from getting wet.



A rope used as a punitive device.


Temperature Controlled Cargo

Any cargo requiring carriage under controlled temperature.


Temperature Recorder

A device used to record temperature variations in a reefer container while cargo is en route.



A small boat used to carry persons from shore to ship and back.

A colloquial term used to describe the condition of a ship having marginal stability.

To present for acceptance an offer (to tender a bid).



Time and date for the payment of a draft.



An assigned area in which containers are prepared for loading into a vessel, train, truck or airplane or are stacked immediately after discharge from a vessel, train, truck or airplane.


Terminal Handling Charge (1)

An additional charge for container's lifting from quay to ship / from ship to quay (THD, for THC at Destination). For more information see MSC Queries / DTX / Charge Codes


Terminal handling charge

An additional charge for container's lifting from quay to ship / from ship to quay (THD, for THC at Destination).


Terms of Delivery

All the conditions agreed upon between trading partners regarding the delivery of goods and the related services.

Note: Under normal circumstances the INCOterms are used to prevent any misunderstandings.


Terms of Freight

All the conditions agreed upon between a carrier and a merchant about the type of freight and charges due to the carrier and whether these are prepaid or are to be collected.


Terms of Sale

The point at which sellers have fulfilled their obligations so the goods in a legal sense could be said to have been delivered to the buyer. They are shorthand expressions that set out the rights and obligations of each party when it comes to transporting the goods. For more information see INCOTERMS.


The International Organisation for standardisation

Widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organisations.

Founded on February 23rd, 1947, the organisation promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards. It has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.


The Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits
(UCP 600)

A set of rules on the issuance and use of letters of credit.

The latest revision, called the UCP600, formally commenced on 1st July 2007 (it replaced the UCP500. prepared in 1993 and in effect since January 1st, 1994).


Thermal Container

A container built with insulating walls, doors, floor and roof by which heat exchange with the environment is minimised, thus limiting temperature variations of the cargo.


This is also known as piggyback.T1

A European in-transit Customs document. This document is needed to transport dutiable goods to an inland Customs zone, rather than paying Customs Duties at the port of entry. There used to be a T2 for Intra-European cargo, but that is obsolete now.



A vertical wooden peg or pin inserted through the gunwale to form a fulcrum for oars when rowing. It is used in place of a rowlock.


Three sheets to the wind

On a three-masted ship, having the sheets of the three lower courses loose will result in the ship meandering aimlessly downwind. Also, a sailor who has drunk strong spirits beyond his capacity.


Through Bill of Lading (1)

A single Bill of Lading covering receipt of the cargo at the point of origin for delivery to the ultimate consignee, using two or more modes of transportation (rail / motor / barge / vessel).


Through bill of lading

Blanket documentation when multiple carriers of various transport modes are involved.


Through Charge or Through Rate

The total freight rate from the point of origin to the final destination (usually an all-inclusive rate).


Through Rate

The total rate from the port of origin to the final destination.


Through Route

The total route from the point of departure to the point of destination.


Throughput Charge

The charge for moving a container through a container yard off or onto a ship.



A bench seat across the width of an open boat.


Tidal Port

A port navigable only during high tide.



A horizontal division of a vessel from bottom to top. The numbers run from bottom to deck and from deck upwards and are used as a part of the indication of a stowage place for containers.



A lever used for steering, attached to the top of the rudder post. These levers are used mainly on smaller vessels, such as dinghies and rowing boats.


Time Charter

A contract for leasing between ship owners and the lessee. It would state the duration of the lease in years or voyages.


Time Draft

A draft that matures either a certain number of days after acceptance or a certain number of days after the date of the draft.


Time Sheet

A statement drawn-up by the ship's agent at the loading and discharging ports, which details the time worked in loading and discharging the cargo, together with the amount of laytime used.



From the French timonnier, is a name given, on particular occasions, to the steersman of a ship.



A thin temporary patch.


To be advised/announced

To be advised/announced


To Be Nominated

To Be Nominated (Named). It is used for instance in Vessel Schedules when the sailing date must be mentioned, but the actual vessel / voyage are not yet known at the time of publication.


Toe the line or Toe the mark

At parade, sailors and soldiers were required to stand in line, their toes in line with a seam of the deck.



A low strip running around the edge of the deck like a low bulwark. It may be shortened or have gaps in it to allow water to flow off the deck.



A rope used as a punitive device.



Unit of weight measurement: 1000 kilograms (metric ton) or 2,240 lbs (long ton).

Unit of cubic measurement, mainly used to express the cubic capacity of a vessel.

Unit of weight or measurement used as a basis for the calculation of freights (freight ton). Deadweight Ton: Indicates the carrying capacity of the ship in terms of the weight in tons of the cargo, fuel, provisions and passengers which a vessel can carry. Displacement Ton: The weight of the volume of water which the fully loaded ship displaces. Kilometre Ton: Measure of airline freight capacity. Registered Ton: Indicates the cubical contents or burden of a vessel in tons of 100 cubic feet. The space within a vessel in units of 100 cubic feet.


Ton Mile

Unit used in comparing freight earnings or expenses. It equates to the amount earned from the cost of hauling a ton of freight one mile.



A term which generally refers to freight handled.

1. Cubic capacity of a merchant vessel.

2. Total weight or amount of cargo expressed in tons.


Top-Air Delivery

A type of air circulation in a container. Air is drawn from the bottom of the container, filtered through the evaporator for cooling and then forced through the ducted passages along the top of the container. This type of airflow requires a special loading pattern.



The mast or sails above the tops.



The second section of the mast above the deck; formerly the upper mast, later surmounted by the topgallant mast; carrying the topsails.



The second sail (counting from the bottom) up a mast. These may be either square sails or fore-and-aft ones, in which case they often 'fill in' between the mast and the gaff of the sail below.



The part of the hull between the waterline and the deck. For more information see Above-water hull.


Touch and go

The bottom of the ship touching the bottom, but not grounding.



Towage is a contract whereby one ship moves another. Towage, as opposed to salvage, is a service contract, which does not involve a marine peril, and the consideration is an hourly or daily rate or a lump sum, rather than a salvage reward based on the peril, the work accomplished and the value of the object salved.

There are various standard-form towage contracts, including, for example, the 'International Ocean Towage Agreement (Lump Sum)' (Code Name: 'TOWCON') and the 'International Ocean Towage Agreement (Daily Hire)' (Code Name: 'TOWHIRE') of BIMCO.



The operation of drawing a vessel forward by means of long lines.



The action of retrieving information concerning the whereabouts of cargo, cargo items, consignments or equipment.


Track & Trace

The pro-active tracking of the product along the supply chain, and the paper information flow relating to the order.



The function of maintaining status information, including current location, of cargo, cargo items, consignments or containers either full or empty.



A powered vehicle designed and used for towing other vehicles.

A unit of highway motive power used to pull one or more trailers/containers.



A trade is a liner service or a cargo flow between two individual markets (e.g. North Atlantic Trade).

a) The exchange of goods, funds, services or information with value to the parties involved. This value is either previously agreed or established during business.

b) A commercial connection between two or more individual markets.


Trade Acceptance

A time or date draft that has been accepted by the buyer (the drawee) for payment at maturity.



The person or property carried by transport lines.


Traffic Separation Scheme

Shipping corridors, marked by buoys, which separate incoming from outgoing vessels. These are also known as Sea Lanes.



The truck unit into which freight is loaded as in tractor-trailer combination.


Trailer/truck load

Trailer/truck load



A term used (in the maritime industry) to denote an ocean carrier that does not operate ships on a regular schedule from one port to another, but instead calls at any port where a cargo may be obtained.


Tramp Line

An ocean carrier company operating tramp steamers not on regular runs or schedules.


Tramp Vessel

A vessel not operating under a regular schedule.


Trans-Atlantic conference agreement

North America / North Europe trade ocean freight pricing agreement among carriers.


Transferable Letter of Credit

A letter of credit that allows all or a portion of the proceeds to be transferred from the original beneficiary to one or more additional beneficiaries.


Transmittal letter

A letter from the shipper to its agent listing the particulars of a shipment, the documents being transmitted and instructions for the disposition of those documents.



A more or less flat surface across the stern of a vessel. Dinghies tend to have almost vertical transoms, whereas yachts' transoms may be raked forward or aft.


Transporation and exportation
(T&E entry)

A US Customs form used to control cargo movement from port of entry to port of exit, meaning that the cargo is moving from one country, through the United States, to another country.



To move traffic from one place to another.


Transport International par la Route

road transport operating agreement among European governments and the United States for the international movement of cargo by road. Display of the TIR carnet allows sealed containerloads to cross national frontiers without inspection.



The movement of traffic from one place to another.



A system under which cargo is transferred from one transportation line to another.



The shipment of merchandise to the point of destination in another country on more than one vessel or vehicle. The liability may pass from one carrier to the next, or it may be covered by 'through bills of lading' issued by the first carrier. This is sometimes referred to as relay.


Transshipment Port

The place where cargo is transferred to another carrier.



Small fittings that slide on a rod or line. The most common use is for the inboard end of the mainsheet; a more esoteric form of traveller consists of 'slight iron rings, encircling the backstays, which are used for hoisting the top-gallant yards, and confining them to the backstays'.


Trialer on flat car

The movement of a highway trailer on a railroad flatcar.



To haul and tie up by means of a rope.



A period of time spent at the wheel ('my trick's over').



The relationship of a ship's hull to the waterline.



Truckload rates apply where the tariff shows a truckload minimum weight. Charges will be at the truckload minimum weight unless weight is higher.


True Bearing

An absolute bearing (qv) using true north.


True North

The direction of the geographical North Pole.


Trust Receipt

The release of merchandise by a bank to a buyer for manufacturing or sales purposes in which the bank retains title to the merchandise.



A small vessel designed to tow or push large ships or barges. Tugs have powerful diesel engines and are essential to docks and ports to manoeuvre large ships into their berths.

Pusher tugs are also used to push enormous trains of barges on the rivers and inland waterways of the USA.

Oceangoing salvage tugs provide assistance to ships in distress and engage in such work as towing drilling rigs and oil production platforms.



A description of the hull shape when viewed in a transverse section, where the widest part of the hull is some way below deck level.



A knot passing behind or around an object.



In water transportation, the time it takes between the arrival of a vessel and its departure.


Turnkey Project

Capital construction projects in which the supplier (contractor) designs and builds the physical plant, trains the local personnel on how to manage and operate the facility and presents the buyer with a self-sustaining project (all the buyer has to do is 'turn the Key').



When a sailboat (in particular a dinghy) capsizes to a point where the mast is pointed straight down and the hull is on the surface resembling a turtle shell.



The cargo-carrying surface below the main deck dividing a hold horizontally in an upper and a lower compartment.


Twenty-foot equivelant unit

Used to measure a vessel's capacity by counting how many containers of 20' length can be loaded onboard. A vessel's intake capacity is composed of 'slots' meant to receive either 2x20'or 1x40' containers. Due to the curvature of some cargo holds some slots might be made exclusively for 20' while it is always possible to fit 2x20' in any 40' slot.

The 20' container is then the 'lowest common denominator'; so we will count the total amount of 20' that can be fitted in any slot to envision the total carrying capacity of vessels.


Twist Lock

A steel anchor which has to be inserted into the corner fittings of a container and is turned or twisted, thus locking the container for the purpose of securing or lifting.


Twist Locks

A set of four twistable bayonet-type shear keys used as part of a spreader to pick-up a container or as part of a chassis to secure the containers.


Two-Way Pallet

A pallet designed so that the forks of a fork lift truck can be inserted from two sides only.


Type of Cargo

An indication of the sort of cargo to be transported, Breakbulk, Containerised or Ro/Ro.


Type of Equipment

The type of material used, e.g. 40 foot container, four-way pallet or mafi trailer.


Type of Movement

A description of the service for the movement of containers.

Note: The following type of movement can be indicated on B/L and manifest all combinations of FCL and LCL and break bulk and Ro/Ro. Whilst only on the manifest combinations of House, Yard and CFS can be mentioned.


Type of Transport

The indication whether the carrier or the merchant effects and bears the responsibility for inland transport of cargo in containers i.e. a differentiation between the logistical and legal responsibility.

Note: Values are Carrier haulage and Merchant haulage, whilst in this context special cases are carrier-nominated merchant haulage, and merchant nominated carrier haulage.