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Types of Ships Serviced in Ports: A Detailed Examination


Maritime trade, a crucial component of the global economy, necessitates the servicing of various types of ships in ports. These ships are classified based on the types of cargo they carry, their tonnage, and specific requirements. Here is a comprehensive overview of the types of ships serviced in ports:

DWT (Dead Weight Tonnage)

DWT is a measurement unit expressing the weight ships can carry in tons. While referred to as “detveyt” or “dead weight tonnage” in Turkish, the industry commonly uses its English original. In Turkish laws, it represents the maximum weight a ship can carry, encompassing the total weight of cargo, fuel, water, provisions, passengers, and the crew’s weights and belongings.

Classification of Ships

Ships are classified based on their carrying capacities and lengths. Classifications include Aframax, Capesize, Handymax, Handysize, Malaccamax, Panamax, New Panamax, Suezmax, VLCC, ULCC, among others. For instance, Panamax ships are vessels with an average capacity of 65,000 DWT, longer than 294 meters, wider than 32 meters, and shallower than 12 meters.

Fleet Capacities of Countries

Greece has the highest number of ships globally, with a capacity exceeding 300 million DWT. Following Greece, Japan and China rank second and third, respectively. Germany leads in container ships.

Types of Terminals in Ports

Ports consist of terminals specialized in handling specific cargo types. There are six main terminal types: liquid bulk, dry bulk, general cargo, container, roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro), and passenger terminals.

Liquid Bulk Terminals

These terminals service ships carrying liquid bulk cargo, specializing in handling different types of liquid loads like crude oil, LPG, LNG, or chemical cargo. Security measures at these terminals are particularly high due to the nature of the handled goods.

Dry Bulk Terminals

These terminals handle major and minor dry bulk cargoes. Pneumatic systems are often preferred for grain handling, while vessels’ own cranes are utilized in practice.

General Cargo Terminals

Specialized in handling piece goods and special cargo, these terminals typically use quayside cranes or the ship’s own cranes for loading and unloading.

Container Terminals

Dedicated solely to container handling, these terminals are configured to meet the unique requirements of container transportation. While occasional general cargo handling may occur, these terminals primarily focus on containers.

Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) Terminals

These terminals, like container terminals, have a specialized structure for vehicles like trucks, cars, and machinery. Due to temporary storage needs, these terminals often feature “ro-ro ramps” where vehicles can be loaded or unloaded.

Passenger Terminals

These terminals serve ships carrying passengers and generally include spacious parking lots and waiting halls. As vessels use their own equipment for boarding and disembarking, these terminals have limited quayside equipment.

Cargo Handling Equipment and Principles

Cargo handling, along with berthing, is one of the fundamental functions of ports. Port managers recognize the need for modern equipment to enhance competitiveness, as modern ports equipped with advanced cargo handling equipment attract more ships and cargoes. Terminal equipment is tailored to the specific cargo type they handle.

Principles of Cargo Handling

Cargo handling encompasses the planning, organization, coordination, execution, and supervision of all cargo movements between vessels or other vehicles and port storage areas. As cargo handling is a fundamental function of ports, it should be conducted within specific principles, including safety, security, efficiency, and environmental sensitivity.


  • Use of suitable cargo handling equipment for the type of cargo.
  • Marking and labeling of cargo.
  • Chocking and lashing to prevent slipping and tipping during stowage.
  • Compliance with rules for transporting hazardous cargoes.
  • Separation of loaded cargoes based on weight, dry/wet, clean/dirty, and other characteristics.


  • Use of physical barriers such as fences, gates, and strong lighting.
  • Identity checks and visitor log records.
  • Organized and knowledgeable patrol organization.
  • Utilization of closed-circuit camera systems (CCTV), detectors, X-ray machines, and other technological equipment.
  • Regular counting and tallying.
  • Compliance with International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) rules.


  • Optimal use of equipment and technology.
  • Minimization of operation times and acceleration of cargo movements.
  • Continuous improvement of efficiency.
  • Simplification and standardization.
  • Allocation of cargoes to their designated places based on routes, import/export status, destination, type, and consignor/consignee.

Environmental Sensitivity

  • Emergency planning and risk management.
  • Coordination with relevant public and private entities.
  • Compliance with local, regional, and national emergency intervention plans.
  • Use of appropriate cargo handling equipment to prevent spillage.
  • Ready availability of barriers, skimmers, and chemicals to prevent the spread of surface oil and grease.
  • Exhaust emission measurements for vehicles and equipment.
  • Compliance with regulations for the assessment and management of environmental noise.
  • Trained personnel with enhanced environmental awareness.
  • A laboratory for analyzing samples to determine the extent and type of pollution.
  • Meeting the criteria for being a green port.

Ports must effectively utilize various types of ships and terminals to manage ship traffic and contribute to global trade. The emphasis on safety, efficiency, and environmental awareness in cargo handling processes ensures the sustainable operation of ports.

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