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Created: October 1997. Last update: 2006
Includes acronyms & names of organizations & non-profit bodies.
(For the purpose of this list only all the classification socieities will considered as non-profit societies)
The alphabetical sorting is done on the name or acronym in the first column. Figures are preceding letters. Other symbols and capitalization are ignored.
Besides a succinct or more developed explanation of items listed, some practical comments have been added. The choice of the terms listed is that they are in use on board commercial ships and should be part of the general knowledge of deck or engine officers, among many others.
Terms and acronyms are permanently changing, errors are often found even in the most famous BA publications (ie: IBC Code). Therefore this list will be constantly updated, time and resources available, and the source(s) of the information will be mentioned when available.


A A = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . - )
Burgee flag= White at hoist, blue at the fly.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "Undergoing speed trial" (Kerchove).

AA Always Afloat
Chartering term.
In some port the ship runs aground when approaching, or at berth. Usually linked to SB.

ABS American Bureau of Shipping
US Classification Society founded in 1862.
Email : mailto:%20abs-amer@eagle.org
Web site: http://www.eagle.org/

ADN Accord du transport Dangereux par voie Navigable (European accord for the transport of dangerous good by inland waterways)

ADNR Accord du transport Dangereux par voie Navigable pour Rhin (European accord for the transport of dangerous good on inland waterways: Rhine)

ADR Accord du transport Dangereux par Route (European accord for the transport of dangerous good by road)

ADR American Depository Receipt. The exchange system for trading of foreing shares in the USA

Average Freight Rate Assessment
In the past the largest tankers, now crude and product tankers with a deadweight between 45,000/70,000 and 80,000/100,000 tons.
American Freight Rate Association term for a tanker of approximately 80 000 105 000 dwt

Aldis lamp Aldis lamp
Lamp with focused beam used for signaling with the morse code and which can be seen at a distance of up to 20 miles. It was connected to the ship emergency electrical system in order to remain functioning when the main electrical power was down. Although its use as a communication device became rare due to the VHF, it is still very usefull to attract the attention of other ships at night.

ALRS Admiralty List of Radio Signals
British admiralty publications (8 volumes, some of them in double or triple books) informing the navigators about all the radio stations and various kind of broacasted informations such as time signals, weather & navigational warnings, positioning systems, VTS procedures and many other. They are regularly updated through the weekly published Notice to Mariners, but this work is time consuming and the actual small staffs have hardly any time to do it. An affordable electronic publication with online updating is badly needed.

AMMONIA Ammonia - anhydrous
See NH3

AMPD Average Most Probable Discharge

ANF Arrival Notification Form
A document which advises a consignee or a container operator that goods or containers have arrived at the port of discharge (BIMCO)

API American Petroleum Institute

ARCS Admiralty Raster Chart Service
Electronic display of nautical charts, unfortunately badly inferior to a vector system.

ARPA Automated Radar Plotting Aid
System to assist the watchkeeper using the radar for collision prevention.

ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials.
It is the world's largest source of voluntary consensus standards for material, products, systems, and services. ASTM is a resource for sampling and testing methods, health and safety aspects of materials, safe performance guidelines, effects of physical and biological agents and chemicals. Much used in shipping also, mainly on chemical tankers

ATDNSHINC Any Time Day or Night Sundays & Holidays INCluded
Chartering term.

A device used to extract a representative sample from the liquid flowing in a pipe.

AWIWL Always Within Institute Warranties Limits
For insurance purpose: the ship should sail only within sea areas in which she is always insured. For instance the Bearing Sea is outside these limits, while the southern part of it is almost always free of ice. Anyway the underwriter are often asking an extra premium to enter it.


B B = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - . . . )
Burgee flag= Red.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means " I am discharging / loading explosives or flammable substances". Still widely used when bunkering.

Barrel Barrel
42 United States gallons(3.785lt) at 60 degrees fahrenheit (15.5)=159lt.

BB Ballast Bonus
Brokerage abbreviation. Special payment above the Chartering pricewhen the ship has to sail a long way on ballast to reach the loading port.

Ballast Ratio
Time at sea without cargo as percentage of total time at sea.

B/B Bareboat
The hiring or leasing of a vessel from one company to another (the charterer), which, in turn, provides crew, bunkers, stores etc., and pays all operating costs.

BB Bare Boat Charter (Demise Charter)
Method of chartering of the ship leaving the charterer with most all the responsibilities of the owner, including the crewing and management of the vessel. This type of chartering is often used to put the ship under a FOC (Flag of Convenience).

BC Code Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMO).
Not to be mistaken with the IBC Code!

. BCH Code Bulk Chemical Code (IMO/MPEC .20(22))
Construction rules for chemical tankers built after 12 April 1972 until 30 June 1982 afterwhich the IBC Code has to be considered.

BESMA Belgian ShipMaster's Association
Professional Association for shipmasters legally recognized by decision of the Belgian Council of State of 29th November 1977. Main international objective: safety of shipping & promotion of the profession. Practically BESMA was very active on Roro safety leading the IFSMA working group on the issue..
Provisionaly BESMA can be contacted through this Email address: cd00332@online.be

BIMCO the Baltic and International Maritime COuncil
Information and support service located in Copenhagen (Denmark) Founded in 1905, in 1995 it had 2650 members in 110 countries: shipowners, brokers, agents, P&I; clubs.

B/L Bill of Lading
Negociable documents certifying that the goods are shipped on board a vessel

BLEVE Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion

BLK Bulk
Brokerage abbreviation, mostly referring to cargoes.

BLT Built
Brokerage abbreviation : the year in which the ship was built.
Some PSC are tougher with older ships, at times ship older than 15 or 20 years cannot be accepted for chartering.

BOD Biochemical Oxygen Demand
The amount of oxygen required during the decomposition of organic matter by aerobic microbiological action. A water body polluted by biologically degradable organic matter, loses some or all of its dissolved oxygen by the respiratory oxygen demand of the microorganisms consuming the organic matter. BOD5 (i.e. 5 days of BOD at 20.C) is a common measure of biodegradable pollution in water.

BV Bureau Veritas
Classification Society located in Paris

Buoy loader
Tanker specially equipped for loading at sea via buoys.

Unpackaged solid cargo, such as coal, ore, grain

See C4H10

BWT Bleeding Wing Tanks.
In order to load the ship to full capacity with grain, the top ballast tanks are sometimes used as cargo spaces. Bleeding holes, normally closed by a flange when the tank is ballasted, allow the cargo to fall in the hold underneath, filling all the space available. This method of loading however involved a lot of extra preparation work, and a lot of cleaning work after the discharge.


C C = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - . - . )
Flag= Horizontally divided in 5 stripes. Blue above and under, red in the middle between two white ones.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "YES- Affirmative".

CAP Condition Assessment Program
Structural assessment program devised by the classification societies ABS, LR, DNV.

Dry cargo carrier of 80 000 dwt and larger

CAIP Critical Area Inspection Plan
Structural assessment program devised by the USA authorities / class sosieties

CARB California Air Resources Board


CBT (MARPOL) Clean Ballast Tank
Tank exclusively dedicated to clean ballast

C3H8 Propane
Petroleum gas carried on LPG tankers.
All degree centigrades: flash point=-105, boiling point=-43, auto-ignition=460.
Molecular weight=44. Flammable range= 2-11pc.

C4H10 Butane
Petroleum gas carried on LPG tankers.
All degree centigrades: flash point=-60, boiling point=-0.5, auto-ignition=410.
Molecular weight=58. Flammable range= 1-9pc.

CCE Credit Controlling Entity
(Bank, Insurance or any other)

CCTV Close Circuit Tele Video
Method of inspecting the underwater part of the ship while recording a Video at the same time.

CD Chart Datum
Plane of reference to which all depths and heights are referred. Usually it is the MLW, except in France and Spain where it is the Lowest Low Water possible. (Kerchove)

CDI Chemical Distribution Institute
Inspection scheme of tankers following the rules of the Council of Europe Federation of Chemical Industries.

CEU Car Equivalent Unit
To assess the carrying capacity of Car carriers.

CFC Chlorofluorocarbons
A family of inert, nontoxic, and easily liquefied chemicals used in refrigeration, air conditioning, packaging, insulation, or as solvents and aerosol propellants. Because CFCs are not destroyed in the lower atmosphere, they drift into the upper atmosphere where their chlorine components destroy ozone. The gas used in most ship refrigerating plant, including the containers, was the freon R22 also a CFC , and had thus to be replaced.

CFR Code of Federal Rules (US)
US laws, many of them of the utmost importance for the shipmaster. Quite often all the volumes related to shipping can be found on board.The CFR is divided into titles. The following titles may be useful when following this guideline: Title 40- Contains Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Title 49- Contains Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Changes to the regulations are published in the Federal Register. These publications can be ordered through the US Government Printing Office.

CH4 Methane
Natural gas carried in great quantities by LNG tankers at his boiling temperature (-161).

Cargo owner or another person / company who hires the ship.

Transport contract between shipowner and shipper of goods.

CIF Cost Insurance & Freight
Selling terms of shipped goods.
The seller fix the carriage contract and provide the buyer with a B/L, pays the shipment and the insurance until the port of destination.

COA Contract of Affreightment
Quantity contract. An agreement between shipowner and shipper concerning the freight of defined amount of cargo. The shipowner chooses the ship.

Collision Bulkhead Collision Bulkhead
Strong bulkhead usually located 5% of ship's lenght astern of the stem. It is only pierced by piping which are most of the time closed by a valve. Designed to prevent a ship from flooding after an head on collision. Unfortunately side damage due to collision also occurs and they can bring a dramatic quick foundering of the vessel. (MINERAL DAMPIER after being rammed by the HANJIN MADRAS).

COFR Certificate Of Financial Responsibility (USA)
Documents required (checked and approved) by the USCG for tonnage transporting oil products in the US economic zone (due to OPA90) to confirm the owners financial responcibility up to a specified amount for pollution caused in US waters (certifying that any vessel calling in the USA has a valid P&I coverage in case of pollution).

COLREG Collision Regulations
International Convention on Collision Regulations (IMO)

Conbulk Container/Bulkcarrier
Vessel able to carry either containers or dry bulk cargoes.

Conchoidal fracture Conchoidal fracture
Rupture of metal in which the fractured surface has a shell-like appearance.

COP Custom Of the Port
Chartering term. Operations which take the peculiarities of the port/country into account.

COW Crude Oil Washing
Washing of the oil tank with jets of the same oil. This to replace washing with water which implies a risk of explosion and the problem of the disposal of cleaning water.
Used of a high-pressure jet of the crude oil cargo to disloge or disslov clingage and sediment from the walls,cross members,and lines in the compartments of a vessel during the discharging operation.

C/P Charter Party
Hire contract of the vessel. It can be for a voyage or a fixed period.

Contract Regarding an Interim Supple-ment to Tanker Liability for Oil Pollution , . , , ( ) .

Critical speed Critical Speed
Revolution of Propeller per Minute (RPM) which is close to vibration rate of the engine. The speed corresponding to these RPM cannot be maintained at all.

CTL Constructive Total Loss
After an incident such as collision, grounding, fire, if it is too expensive to repair the ship cannot, the insurance consider it is lost. The vessel is abandoned or sold as scrap.


D D = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - .. )
Flag= Blue central horizontal stripe with smaller yellow strip above and under.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I am maneuvering with difficulty. (Similar fog signal.)

DD Dry Dock
Every two or three years, the ship has to be put in a dry dock in order to check all the submerged parts, repaint them, eventually remove the propeller and the tailshaft.

DEMDES Demurrage/Despatch money
Brokerage abbreviation of chartering terms.
Amount to be paid if the ship is loading/discharging slower/faster than foreseen. Usually the Despatch money, which is paid by the shipowner, is half the amount of the Demurrage, which is paid by the Charterer.

DNV Det Norkse Veritas classification AS
Norwegian Classification Society

DO Diesel Oil.
Mainly used to run the auxiliary engines/alternator which provide the electrical power. On many large ships it used in the main engine during the maneuvers (berthing/sailing). When the main engine is stopped for a long time it is better, on some ships imperative, to have DO in all the system.

Discharge Discharge(US/OPA 90)
Any emission (other than natural seepage), intentional or unintentional, and includes, but is not limited to, spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, or dumping.

DOC Document of Compliance
(ISM Code) Certificate provided by the Administration stating that the Owner/Management complies with the ISM Code

DOSP Dropping Outward (Sea) Pilot (time)
When the vessel leaves the last discharge port. It is often the time used as the end of a Voyage charter.

In Alaska these are water areas inside the chain of outer islands which are classiffied as "International waters" because they are further than 3 miles or 12 miles from any shore line, but they are entirely surrounded US territorial waters. (Lloyd's list A-52) Some ships are taking advantage of this legal trick to get rid of wastes which have otherwise to be dumped at sea at the same distance from shore. For many purposes the US uses the 3 miles limit for its territorial waters, which makes that these Doughnut Holes can also be found on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

DP Designated Person.
For the ISM Code, any member of the Owner's staff who is aware of the problem of the vessels, and who has a direct access to the top management.

Dry Cargo Carrier
Ship carrying general or bulk cargo

Dry Docking

DSC Digital Selective Calling
GMDSS System: MF/HF/VHF facility which allows for automatic access to coast stations equipped with the system. A short list to select the quickly the nature of distress is available, unfortunately the "pirate attack" had been forgotten, while it is one which need a a maximum of automation, and discretion.

DWT Deadweigt
A measure of a ships carrying capacity, including bunker oil, fresh water, crew and provision.
DWCC DeadWeight Cargo Capacity
Weights of the cargo which can be lifted, usually expresses in metric (1000 kg) or long (1016 kg) tons. Not to be confused with the deadweight itself which includes many other weights: bunkers, fresh water, provisions, stores, ballast, constant. They can add up to a few thousands tons on a Panamax bulker.


E E = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . )
Flag= Blue over red.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I am altering my course to starboard.

EBITDA Earnings Before Interest,Tax,Depreciation,Amortisation

ECDIS Electronic Chart Display and Information System
Based on vectorial representation of features, this system is the best available as it can be coupled to many other devices. Unfortunately since the availability of GPS positioning many hydrographic information have be found to be out of position by several miles at times (ie : Providence channel in the Bahamas), therefore many charts must be redrawn. It is only with these charts that electronic facilities, such as automatic alarms for shallow water, can be connected.

ECOSOC ECOnomic & SOcial Counsil of the United Nations
UN agency parenting the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the IMO.

EMS Environmental Management System
ISO Standard

EmS Emergency Schedule
IMO/IMDG Code: Emergency Procedures for Ships Carrying Dangerous Goods.

E&OC Errors & Omissions Excepted (Such as this list)

EPA US Environmental Protection Agency

EPIRB Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon
Small buoyant transmitter which should always remain afloat if the ship sinks, and send automatically a distress message via satellites.

European ship and operator information system which becomes operational in May 2000. Based on a French system, it will be an important tool for anybody with an interest in or responsibility for maritime safety, to select ships of high quality, and also an useful tool for PSC inspectors. (Commission of the European Communities). It will be really efficient when seafarers will be able to rely on it to have a good idea of the effective seaworthiness of the vessel to which they are sent by crewing agencies.

ESP - Enhance Survey Program


ETA Estimated Time of Arrival
Some agents assume it is the Expected Time of Arrival, or even the Exact Time of Arrival, so they are upset when the ship cannot keep the schedule. At times they require the "Earliest ETA", which is more reasonable. This time must be transmitted quite often to other services also: pilotage, shipowner, authorities, VTS...

ETC Estimated Time of Completion
Estimated time of completion of the cargo operations. Normally the agent should ask the captain how long he requires to make the ship seaworthy after the ETC. Very few agents adhere to this, order the pilot and the tugs for the ETC, and have to pay huge waiting times to these services if the ship needs more time to be ready.

ETD Estimated Time of Departure
Estimated time of departure of the vessel. Does not necessarily coincide with the time of completion for the reasons evoked here above, or because the ship has to wait for another reason: tide, daylight,...

ETR Estimated Time of Readiness
Time at which the ship will be ready to load, for instance when the crew has to clean the holds first.

Exxon MSG Exxon Minimum Safety Criteria


F F = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . . - . )
Flag= Red diamond on white background.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I am disabled. Communicate with me." ( Kerchove)

FCC First Class Charterers

F1B F1B Radio transmission designator.
Telegraphy using frequency modulation = Narrow-Band Direct-Printing (Telex)(ALRS)

F1D F1D Radio transmission designator.
Data transmission using frequency modulation, with a single channel containing quantized or digital information without the use of a modulating subcarrier. (ALRS)

F2B F2B Radio transmission designator.
Telegraphy using using frequency modulation, with a single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier, for automatic reception. (ALRS)

F2C F2C Radio transmission designator.
Facsimile transmission using frequency modulation, with a single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier. (ALRS)

F2D F2D Radio transmission designator.
Data transmission using frequency modulation, with a single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier. (ALRS)

F3C F3C Radio transmission designator.
Facsimile transmission using frequency modulation, with a single channel containing analogue information.(ALRS)

F3E F3E Radio transmission designator.
Telephony using frequency modulation.(ALRS)

FC&S; Free of Capture and Seizure
Insurance term. Used until 1982 in all marine insurance contracts to refer to the war exclusion clause. Discontinued in the UK cargo insurance market in 1982 and in the hull insurance market in 1983 (BIMCO).

FIO Free In and Out
Trade term. The seller of the goods pays their shipment and provide all the documentation at the loading port. The buyer fixes the freight andthe insurance.

Broker abbreviation indicating the country in which the vessel is registered. See also FOC.

FOC Flag Of Convenience
Country of registry representing the legal system under which the ship is managed, but not the nationality of the owner, management, crew... Some FOC are tiny countries with a few thousands inhabitants (St.Vincent & Grenadines, Cayman Islands, Nauru), others are landlocked (Luxembourg), and do not have a real maritime administration. They are often delegating their obligations to other services: Classes, agencies...

FO Fuel OilFuel mainly used for propulsion, but also with some auxiliary engines.(IFO= Intermediary FO, HFO= Heavy FO)

FPSO Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel
Large tanker, often without propulsion of her own, staying in a fixed position to process and store oil awaiting to be loaded on another vessel. In July 1999 the largest one was the 'Girassol built by Hyundai for the service of ELF in Angola from 2001. She has a storage capacity of 2m barrels and a process capacity of 200,000 barrels a day.'

Freight rate
The agreed freight charge calculated by metric tons of cargo or deadweight ton per month

FSA Formal Safety Assessment
Study of risks which should improve the design of ships, and also their actual maintenance.

FSW Frisian Shipyard Welgelegen

FW Fresh Water Can designate either:
1) Fresh water used by the ship for drinking, cooling system of various engine, showers, toilet.... Previously the amount was the biggest on departure in order to reach safely the port of destination. Nowadays most ships produce their own fresh water in an "evaporator" fed with sea water and using the heat of the engine. Often 25 tons a day is made, some 10 tons are used, so that 15 tons can be added to the stock with the result that the ship arrives with full tanks. This added weight is generally compensated by the consumption of FO and DO.
2)Fresh Water as opposed to Sea Water regarding the density of the water supporting the ship. Normally the density of SW is 1.000, but in places like the Panama canal it can be 0.985 because it is warmer.

FW Free Water
The measured volume of water present in container which is not in suspention in the contained liquid at observed temperature.

FXX FXX Radio transmission designator.
Frequency modulation of main carrier other than F1B, F3E and frequency modulation facsimile.(ALRS)


G G = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - - . )
Flag= Six yellow and blue vertical bars.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I require a pilot." . Still widely used.

G1D G1D Radio transmission designator
Phase modulation with a single channel containing quantized or digital information without the use of a modulating sub-carrier for data transmission. (ALRS)

G2B G2B Radio transmission designator
Phase modulation (automatic reception). A single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier. (ALRS)

GA General Average.
The cost incurred to bring the ship out of a dangerous position must be shared by all the parties interested in the rescue, which means the cargo owners. These are then required to contribute to a General Average. This is quite easy with a bulker having one parcel of cargo, but a nightmare with a container vessel where thousands of parcels with different B/L are stowed in the containers.

GESAMP joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine environmental Protection.

Type of Charter Party

GCN Gross CommissioN
Broker abbreviation regarding their commission. (GCN 3.75%)

GL Germanischer Lloyd
German Classification Society

GLONASS GLobal NAvigation Satelitte System

GMDSS Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.
Mainly a radio communication system which will take advantage of latest technology to enhance safety and allow the ships to sail without radio officer. Implemented since 1992, it should be fully operational by 1 February 1999. In the meantime it provoked thousands of false alarms, bulkers sank without any warning of their EPIRB

GMT Greenwich Mean Time
Now mostly replaced by UTC or Z.

GOV Gross Observed Volume - The total volume of all petroleum liquids and S&W (sediments and water),excluding free water,at observed temperature and pressure.

GSV Gross Standard Volume - The total volume of all petroleum liquids and S&W (sediments and water),excluding free water,corrected by the appropriate temperature correction factor for the observed temperature and API gravity,relative density,or density to standard temperature such as 60F or 15C and also corrected by the applicable pressure correction factor and meter factor.

GPS Global Positioning System
US sattelite based system which gives an accuracy of about 0.2 miles as the signal is variably distorted for military and security purposes. Local correction are often provided through a DGPS system.

GRT Gross Register Tonnage
Measurement of commercial vessel based on the total volume occupied by enclosed spaces. One actual ton of measurement is the equivalent of 2.83 cubic meters.


H H = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . . . . )
Flag= Vertically divided in two : white at the hoist, red at the fly.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I have a pilot on board." . Still widely used.

HAZMAT Hazardous Material

HBL - Hydrostatically Balanced Loading

H2A H2A Radio transmission designator
Telegraphy by the on-off keying of a tone modulated carrier, Morse code: single-sideband, full carrier. (ALRS)

H2B H2B Radio transmission designator
Selective calling signal using a single frequency code, single-sideband, full carrier. (ALRS)

H3E H3E Radio transmission designator
Telephony using amplitude modulation: single-sideband, full carrier. (ALRS)

H9W H9W Radio transmission designator
Composite emission: single-sideband, full carrier; composite system with one or more channels containing quantized or digital information together with one or more channels containing analogue information (eg: combination of telegraphy and telephony) (ALRS)

HBL Hydrostatic Balanced Loading
Method of loading large oil tankers which allows to extends the lives of tankers from 25 to 30 years with regard to MARPOL phase-out provision.

HF High Frequency
(3-30 Mhz)

HHP High Holding Power
Anchors type. (NI)

HMM Hyundai Merchant Marine
Korean shippig company

hPa hectoPascal
Unit of pressure used in weather reports and forecasts. Is equivalent to and replace the millibar.

HRA Human Reliability Analysis
Used in safety studies.

HSC High Speed Craft
Mostly ferries, catamaran, hovercrafts...

HSC High Speed Light Craft
Mostly ferries, catamaran, hovercrafts...

HTC Highly Toxic Chemical (poison)
A chemical falling within any of the following categories:
A chemical that has a median lethal dose (LD50) of 50 milligrams or less per kilogram of body weight when administered orally to albino rats weighing between 200 and 300 grams each.
A chemical that has a median lethal dose (LD50) of 200 milligrams or less per kilogram of body weight when administered by continuous contact for 24 hours (or less, if death occurs within 24 hours) with the bare skin of albino rabbits weighing between 2 and 3 kilograms each.
A chemical that has a median lethal concentration (LC50) of gas or vapor in air of 200 parts per million (ppm) or less by volume, or 2 milligrams per liter or less of mist, fume, or dust, when administered by continuous inhalation for 1 hour (or less, if death occurs within 1 hour) to albino rats weighing between 200 and 300 grams each, provided such concentration or condition, or both, are likely to be encountered by man when the chemical is used in any reasonably foreseeable manner.
A chemical that is a liquid having a saturated vapor concentration (ppm) at 20C equal to or greater than ten times it LC50 (vapor) value (ppm), if the LC50 value 1000 parts per million (ppm) or less when administered by continuous inhalation for 1 hour) to albino rats weighing between 200 and 300 grams each, provided such concentration, or condition, or both, are likely to be encountered by man when the chemical is used in any reasonably foreseeable manner.



I I = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . . )
Flag= Black disk on yellow ground.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I am altering my course to port." (Kerchove)

IACS International Association of Classification Societies
Grouping of the main classification societies (about 10 in 1997) in order to raise the standards.

IADC International Association of Drilling Contractors

IBC Code International Bulk Chemical Code
Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk as adopted by IMO/MEPC.19(22) for ships built after 1 July 1986. (Often wrongly defined in BA publications and charts as International Bulk Carrier code)

ICAS52 International Convention on the Arrest of Seagoing Ships1952 Allows the creditors of shipping debts to present his claim in any country signatory of the convention, and arrest the vessel if needed

ICC International Chamber of Commerce

ICCL International Council of Cruise Lines

ICS International Chamber of Shipping

IFSMA International Federation of Ship Master's Association
Organization grouping all the national Master's association formed in 1974. Established in London.
Over 8.000 shipmaster's from more than 40 countries are affiliated to IFSMA.
Was granted Consultative status at IMO in 1975.
Email : HQ@isfma.org
Web site: www.ifsma.org

IG Inert Gas
Non reactive gas (Nitrogen, CO2) used to fill the tanks to prevent an accidental fire or explosion.

I.G.S. Inert Gas System
The System to process of displacing the vapor space of a vessel cargo tank with inert gas (usually exhaust gas) to prevent the formation of an explosive mixture.

IGC Code International Gas carrier Code
Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying liquefied gases in bulk.

IHL 2005 International Health Regulations 2005

IHO International Hydrographic Organisation

ILDD In Lieu of Dry Dock
Class survey, mostly underwater, which allows the shipowner to postpone a dry dock.

ILF International Lifeboat Federation

ILO International Labour Organisation

IMDG Code International Maritime Dangerous Goods code
One of the most important realisation of the IMO. The code define most dangerous goods, provides directive for their carriage and segregation.

IMEC International Maritime Employers Committee Ltd.
International Maritime Employers Committee Limited
Incorporated in England under company number 5319705
Registered office: 12 Carthusian Street, London ECIM 6EZ

IMLPA International Maritime Lecturers Association

IMO International Maritime Organization
United Nation agency created the 6 March 1948, located in London and taking care of all shipping matters.

IMPA International Maritime Pilot's Association
Located in Belgium, but mostly managed from the Netherlands.

The change in meter reading that occurs during a receipt or delivery.

The measurement from the surface of the liquid to the tank bottom (or datum plate).

INF Code International Code for the Stafe Carriage of Packaged Irradiated Nuclear Fuel, Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes on board Ships.

INMARSAT INternational Maritime SATelitte organization

Legal action against a person.

Legal action against an object or the owner of it (ie: a ship).

INTERCARGO INTERnational association of dry CARGO shipowners

INTERTANKO INTERnational association of independent TANKer Owners

IOR Indian Ocean Region (INMARSAT)

IOPP International Oil Pollution Certificate

ISF International Shipping Federation Ltd

ISM Code International Safety Management Code 1994
IMO regulation aimed at improving the management of vessels regarding their safety and to lessen the risk of pollution. Unfortunately the aim of the regulation had mainly been diverted from its initial purpose to become a clerical business opportunity of its own.

ITU International Telecomunication Union

ITZ Inshore Traffic Zone
Navigational lane which lies between a TSS and the coast. Can only be used by ships calling a port or place inside the zone.


J J = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . - - - )
Flag= Horizontally divided in three with white in the middle and blue up and down.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I am going to send a semaphore signal." (Kerchove)

J2B J2B Radio transmission designator
Telegraphy (automatic reception of), single-sideband (suppressed carrier) with a single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier. (ALRS)

J2DEN J2DEN Radio transmission designator
Single-sideband suppressed carrier with a single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier. Data transmission with a multi-condition code in which each condition represents a signal element (of one or more bits) and no mutliplexing. (ALRS)

J3E J3E Radio transmission designator
Telephony using amplitude modualtion; single-sideband, suppressed carrier. (ALRS)

Jacob's ladder Jacob's ladder.
Rope ladder with wooden round rungs light enough to be easily portable. It cannot be used as pilot ladder but is regularly used by the crew to check the draft or reach work staging.


K K = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - . - )
Flag= Vertically divided with yellow at the hoist, blue at the fly.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "Stop your vessel immediately." (Kerchove)

KN Knots.
The speed of the ship in nautical miles per hour (1.852 km/h or 101.3 ft/minute) .


L L = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . - . . )
Flag= Two yellow and two black squares.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "Stop, I have something important to communicate." (Kerchove)

LASA Latin America Shipowners' Association

LAYCAN LAYdays / CANcelling (dates)
Range of dates within the hire contract must start.

Time allowed to load/discharge the ship. The method of calculation of the days is fixed by the charter party.

LBP Length Between Perpandiculars
Length of the ship measured between two vertical lines corresponding more or less to the location where the loaded ship cross the water line. Aft it is also positioned in function of the rudder shaft. The drafts marks are preferably placed in way of these perpandiculars. This is the length used for most calculations. The frames are usually numbered from the aft perpandiculars.

LC50 Lethal Concentration 50
A concentration of a substance that produces death in 50% of a population of experimental animals after exposure for a period of time which is usually specified (e.g. '96 hour LC50'). This term is used when the substance exists in the organism's ambient environment at the specified concentration (for example, fish in water in which the substance is present at the specified concentration).

LD50 Lethal Dose 50
A dose of a substance that produces death in 50% of a population of experimental animals. It is usually expressed as milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of body weight. This term is used when the exposure pathway is by absorption of the specified dose.

L/D Load / Discharge
Borkers term : average load/discharge rate per day, in tons. (L/D 6000/3000). Usually followed by more details about the method of counting the days.

LOA Length Over All
Total length of the ship between the aftermost and the foremost protruding parts.

LOF Lloyd's Open Form
Salvage contract type. Revised regularly in order to reward the work of tug involved with the salvage of laden tankers.

LOI Letter Of Indemnity
In the past it was a letter allowing a Clean Bill of Lading to be signed even if the goods shipped were known to have a default or shortage, the Letter offering a guarantee that it was recognized by the shipper. But lately it is also a Letter presented by the receiver of the cargo for the delivery of the cargo without presenting an original Bill of Lading. This practice should only be valid if the C/P mentions this possibility.

LOP Letter of Protest
A letter servig as a written record that a particular action or finding was questioned at the time of occurrence.

L-O-T Load on Top
The shipboard procedure of collecting water and oil mixtures,resulting from ballasting and tank cleaning operations (usually in special slop tank or tanks),and subsequently loading cargo on top of these mixtures for discharge at the next discharge port.

LNG Liquid Natural Gases
Gases directly produced by drilling. Usually carried in dedicated low pressure LNG tankers which are using the evaporation of the gas to keep it cool.

LPG Liquid Petroleum Gases
Gases produced by the treatment of crude oil, usually carried in semi-pressurized (5/7 bars) and fully pressurized (18 bars) semi or fully refrigerated LPG tankers.

LR Lloyd's Register
British Classification Society

LRQA Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance

LT Long Tons
Mostly used in the USA? Its value is 1.01605 Metric Tons or 1016.05 kilograms.


M M = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - - )
Flag= Diagonal white cross on blue background.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I have a doctor on board." (Kerchove)

MAC Value Maximum Acceptable Concentration value The MAC value is the upper limit of concentration of a substance in air, which according to present knowledge, does not provoke illness in the large majority of healthy persons exposed to it, even if the exposure is for relatively long periods of 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. The substance can be in the form of a gas, a vapour or a powder (mg/M3).

Usually known as MARPOL 73/78, this is a set of regulation aimed at preventing pollution by oil, chemicals, noxious substances, garbage and sewage water.

MARS Marine Accident Reporting Scheme
Created by the Nautical Institute NI, the report are anonymous and do not provide any name of persons, ships or companies. The are published monthly in the NI publication 'Seaways'.
The reports can be Emailed to mars@nautinst.org or faxed to Captain R.Beedel FNI 17 Estuary Drive Felixstowe Suffolk IP11 9TL UK.

MAWP Maximum Allowable Working Pressure

MEG Mooring Equipment Guide

MEL Maximum Exposure Limit

MEPC Maritime Environment Protection Committee
IMO branch dealing, among other, with the construction of tankers. The number of the meeting is often added to the acronym so that in the Autumn 2000 the next meeting will be MEPC46.

See CH4

MOLOO More Or Less Owner Option
Chartering term: range of weights of the goods to be shipped. Often expressed in percentage. MOLOO 50000 10% = 45000 to 55000 tons.

MOU Mobile Offshore Unit

MMSI Martime Mobile Selective-call Identity code
New compulsory code to identify vessels with the GMDSS/DSC system.

MSC Marine Safety Committee (IMO)

MSD Material Safety Data sheets
Detailed Information about the dangerous products carried.

MSCN Martime Simulation Center Netherlands
Located at Wageningen it was also known under that place name.

MSD Marine Sanitation Device
Any equipment installed on board a vessel to receive, retain, treat, or discharge sewage and any process to treat such sewage.

mSv milliSievert
The measure of potential biological damage to specific body organs or tissues caused by exposure to and subsequent absorption of radiation is expressed in a unit of measure known as a rem. One rem of any type of radiation has the same total damaging effect. Because a rem represents a fairly large dose equivalent, dose equivalents are expressed as fractions of a rem--millirem (mrem), which is 1/1000 of a rem. In the international system of units, 1 sievert (Sv) equals 100 rem; 1 millisievert (mSv) equals 100 mrem. Specific types of dose equivalents are defined as follows.
- committed dose equivalent--the total dose equivalent to an organ during the 50year period following intake.
- effective dose equivalent (EDE)--the weighted sum of dose equivalents to a specified list of organs. The organs and weighting factors are selected on the basis of risk to the entire body.
"EDE" is the unit used in the Annual Site Environmental Report. committed effective dose equivalent: the total effective dose to specified organs in the human body during the 50-year period following intake.
collective effective dose equivalent : the sum of effective dose equivalents of all members of a given population.

MT, MTNS Metric Tons
Unit of weight : metric tons of 1000 kilograms.


N N = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - . )
Flag= Four horizontal rows of alterned blue and white squares.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "NO-Negative."

Natural resources Natural resources (US/OPA 90)
Includes land, fish, wildlife, biota, air, water, ground water, drinking water supplies, and other such resources belonging to, managed by, held in trust by, appertaining to, or otherwise controlled by the United States (including the resources of the exclusive economic zone), any State or local government or Indian tribe, or any foreign government. The ship's staff should better be aware of them.

NCNP No Cure No Pay
Salvage contract term. See also LOF.

Net revenue / Time Charter equivalent
Gross freight income less voyage costs (bunker costs, port duties etc.)

NOV Net Observed Volume - The total volume of all petroleum liquids, excluding S&W (sediments and water) and free water,at observed temperature and pressure.

NH3 AMMONIA (Anhydrous)
Gas usually carried by LPG tankers at about -50 deg.c. Lighter than air, it is easily escaping from any openning and be highly dangerous to inhale in great quantity. Reacting violently with water.
All degrees centigrade: Boiling point: -33, Melting point:-78, Auto-ignition:630.
Molecular weight: 17, Flammable range: 15-26pc.

NI Nautical Institute
Organization founded in 1971 located in London which promotes high professional standards among deck officers.
Email : sec@nautinst.org
Web site: www.nautinst.org

NIS The Norvegian International Ship Register

NK Nippon Kaiji kyokai
Japanese Classification Society

NMD Norwegian Maritime Directorate.

NOR Notice Of Readiness
Date and time when the ship is ready to load. For instance on arrival at the berth or at anchor when the holds are ready. Then the time needed to proceed to the berth is deducted.

NPDES US National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

NPSA Norvegian Public Supervisory Authority
Norwgion Forein Service Station and specifically designated employment office in Norway.

NSCL Norvegian Ships Control Legislation.

NSV Net Standard Volume - The total volume of all petroleum liquids, excluding S&W and free water,corrected by the appropriate temperature
correction factor for the observed temperature and API gravity,relative density,or density to a standard temperature such as 60F or 15C and also corrected by the applicable pressure correction factor and meter factor.

NRDA Natural Resources Damage Assessment (USA)

NRT (NT) Net Register Tons
Theoretically the cargo capacity of the ship expressed in Register tons, seldom used as it is smaller, it brings less revenue when used to tax the vessels.

NTSB National Transportation Safety Board (US).
US agency investigating accidents in the transport industries. Most likely the best in the world.


O O = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - - - )
Flag= Halved diagonally in red and yellow.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "Man overboard."

OBO Ore Bulk Oil
Large tanker able to carry dry bulk cargoes

OBQ On Board Quantity
The material on board in vessels cargo tanks and pipelines prior to loading.The onboard quantity includes oil,water, oil slops,oil residue,oil/water emulsions,sludge,and sediment lying in the vessel's compartments and may include associated lines and pumps.

OCC Operations Control Centre (INMARSAT)

OCIMF Oil Companies International Maritime Forum

OES Occupational Exposure Standard

Oil Tanker
Ship carrying crude oil or refined products. Parcel Tanker carrying several types of oil products. Product Tanker carrying refined oil products.

OPA 90 Oil Pollution Act 1990 (US Public law 101-380 18 August 1990).
US legislation dealing with Oil Pollution and drafted after the grounding of the EXXON VALDEZ . The main point are the fitting of a double hull on tanker and illimited responsiblity fro the shipowner if a pollution is not reported.

OPRC Oil pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation.

OSRO Oil Spill Response Organisation

OSPR Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

Owner Shipowner
The formal owner of a ship. Although more and more he does not invest much money himself, but get a loan from financial institutions who trust his management. On some small ships the owner can be the captain. This was regularly the case in Greece, but recently the Dutch reverted to this system on some coasters as this is the best way to have a master highly motivated to defend the interests of the ship.

Oxidizing Agent Oxidizing Agent IMDG Code 5.1
A chemical or substance that brings about an oxidation reaction. The agent may (1) provide the oxygen to the substance being oxidized (in which case the agent has to be oxygen or contain oxygen), or (2) receive electrons being transferred from the substance undergoing oxidation. (Chlorine is a good oxidizing agent for electron-transfer purposes, even though it contains no oxygen).


P P = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . - - . )
Flag= White square on a blue background.
Called "Blue Peter" as when hoisted singly from a ship it means "The ship is going to sail.

Ship between 55000 dwt and 80000 dwt the largest ship capable of navigating in the Panama Canal.

PAX Passengers
Unit of measurement of human beings who pays to be on board:-).

P&I Protecting & Indemnity Club
Theoretically an organization settled by a group of Owners to insure, among other, liabilities not covered by the Hull and Machinery insurances.

PCC Pure Car Carriers
Vessel type, able to lift several thousands cars.

PCTC Pure Car/Truck Carriers
Vessel type

PDI Pre-Delivery Inspection
Value added service by inspecting shipped goods when they leave the sea carrier.

Pilot Pilot
Experienced local navigator who advise the master about the peculiarities of the port and its approaches. Practically the pilot directs himself the manoeuver of the vessel by giving steering orders to the helmsman and engine orders to the ship mate. On some difficult waterways (Manchester, Scheldt-Brussels canals) the pilot or an assistant also steers directly the ship. The pilot is almost never responsible, except on Panama canal where his fault involves the liability of the canal authorities. Practically this is however limited by the numerous letters of "release of liability" if the ship has some handicaps such as a bad trim. When the liability of the canal is anyway involved, the serious delay caused by the investigation of any incident make that small damages to the ship are cheaper not to report.

Mark carved and painted on both sides of the ship, at mid-length, showing the deepest draft at which the ship can be loaded. Imposed by Mr.Samuel PLIMSOLL in Britain in 1876. Several levels are indicated: SW= Summer sea water draft, TW=Tropical sea water draft, W=Winter sea water draft, FW= Summer fresh water draft, TFW= Tropical fresh water draft.

PMCC Pensky-Martens closed cup.
One of several types of apparatus for determining flash points. The Pensky-Martens closed tester (ASTM D93-79) is used for liquids that have a viscosity of 45 SUS (Saybolt universal seconds) or more at 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), a flash point of 200 degrees F (93.6 degrees C) or higher, contain suspended solids, or form surface films.

Polymerisation Polymerisation
Linking of small molecules (monomers) to form larger molecules (polymers). The molecular weight and structure of a polymer is determined by reaction factors such as temperature and pressure, and concentrations of reactants, monomer, catalyst or initiator, and modifying agents. Polymerisation may occur by addition reactions, or by condensation as in the production of polyamides, polyesters and polysulfides. A real risk on a chemical tanker, and when it happens the tank contains a solid block of plastic instead of a liquid.

POR Pacific Ocean Region (INMARSAT)

POSH Port Out, Starboard Home
The best and most expensive cabins on the former British steamer sailing to and from India. In the Mediterranean, the Red sea and the Arabian sea the sun was mainly on starboard side during the outbound trip, and of course on starboard side when the vessel was coming back. Now this acronym is used to designated somebody wealthy. Taking into account the poor perfomances of the air conditioning on many commercial ship it could still be useful to check from which side the sun will shine for a crossing.

PP (PPD) Pre Paid
Prepaid, usually concerning the freight.

PPT/ONW Prompt/(On Wharf?)
Broker's term: cargo is ready to be loaded.

See C3H8

PRS Polish Register of Shipping
Classification societies. In 1997 it was rejected from the IACS group on a claim of low standard.

PSC Port State Control
Convention which allows the contracting states to inspect the vessel calling their port, and detain them is safety deficiencies are observed.

PSCO Port State Control Officer

PV Pilot Vessel


Q Q = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - - . - )
Flag= Yellow.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "Quarantine flag"(Kerchove)
Hoisted on arrival, it means that nobody can go ashore or board until the quarantine officer has cleared the ship.


R R = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . - . )
Flag= Red background with yellow Greek cross.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means : "The way is off my ship."

Racking Racking
Distorting of a ship's transverse shape through undue strain. This can now still happen with large bulkcarrier in bad weather. Some loading software are calculating the static racking due to uneven cargo distribution under the item: torque.

Radar signature of beacons and buoys for easy identification on the radar PPI. Most of them work on 3 and 10 cm, and if not they cannot be detected. Poor functioning also affect their performance, nevertheless they offer a precious aid to navigation.

RCDS Raster Chart Display System
The electronic chart display in use by the British Admiralty. Based on an image of the paper chart it is far inferior to the ECDIS, and is not accepted by SOLAS to ensure the seaworthiness of the vessel, so that a separate set of paper chart musts be carried and corrected.

Telephony using amplitude modulation; single sideband; reduced carrier. (ALRS)

RCC Rescue Co-ordination Center
Unit responsible of for promoting efficient organization of search adn rescue (SAR) services and for co-ordinating the conduct of SAR operations within a SAR region. (ALRS)

RDF Radio Direction Finder
Navigational instruments which was used to find out the direction of a radio broadcast. Although lacking some precision, it was very reliable when all the other means to fix the position were not available. Now it is mostly replaced by the GPS, only some coast station are using a kind of RDF working on VHF channel to locate small crafts. Once in the Windward passage between Cuba and Haiti I heard a small craft about to sink, calling with a portable VHF and which was totally unable to give a position to the closest USCG station, likely Guantanamo.

RGE Range
Range of ports in which the cargo could be loaded: Le Havre/Hamburg includes those ports and all those in between: Dunkirk, Antwerp, Rotterdam...

RINA Registro Italiano NAvale
Italian Classification Society

ROB Remaining On Board
Usually alist of the weights remaining on board: eventually cargo and consumables.
The material remaining in vessel's cargo tanks after discharge.Remaining on boarded includes oil,water,oil slops,oil residue,oil / water emulsions,sludge and sediment lying in the vessel's compartments and may include associated lines and pumps.

Roro Roll On / Roll off
Ferries with special doors through which large vehicles can be enter / leave the vessel. This type of ship is highly vulnerable if water submerge the main car deck, for instance after a collision. Poor lashing of heavy trucks can also cause a dangerous list if some of them become looze in bad weather. Many roro capsized, usually drowning some or all crew members. BESMA which was in charge of the IFSMA working group on Roro still does not agree with the actual design of these ships.

RT Radio Telephony

RVP - Reid Vapor Pressure


S S = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . . . )
Flag= White background with central blue square.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means : "Engine going full astern."

CAIP - Critical Area Inspection Plan

CAP - Condition Assessment Program

St.Andrew Cross X Saint Andrew's Cross. X
Used in packaging for transport; means harmful - stow away from foodstuffs. (IMO, Material Class 6.1, Group III).(US)

SB Safe Berth
Broker and chartering term meaning that the ship cannot be in danger hen berthed. If grounding is often a cause of the un-safety of the berth, urrent, weak mooring, and many other dangers can render a berth unsafe.

SBT Segregated Ballast Tank
(MARPOL)Tank used exclusively for water ballast but which can be pumped through cargo pumps under certain conditions

SEB Shipping Ethics Board
Project for a better overview of the shipping issues by the seafarers.

SGS Societe Generale de Surveillance
Swiss surveying company which employs 30,000 persons in 140 countries (1996)

SHEX Sunday and Holidays Excluded
Method of calculating the Lay days. These days are not counted.

SHINC Sundays and Holidays INCluded
Method of calculating the Lay days. These days are counted.

Person or Company who on behalf of Shipowner / shipper negotiates a deal for the transportation of cargo at an agreed price or purchasing and selling of ships.

Ship Management
The technical administration of a ship technical operations, maintenance, repair, crewing and insurance.

SIGTTO Society of International Gas Tankers and Terminal Operators ltd.

SIRE Ship Inspection Report Exchange
Oil and product tanker inspection and exchange of information system. The main users are the oil majors, the charterers and the shipowners. (Seaways A-40) This system did not prevent the chartering of the ERIKA by TotalFina.

SMC Safety Management Certificate
(ISM Code) Certificates stating that the ship has an SMS

SPM, SMP Single Mooring Point
Tanker terminal using a single buoy or fixed structure to fasten the vessel and carry out cargo operations. The ship can swing freely around this point.

OIL /water/sediment and emulsions,contained in designated tanks. The mixture usually results from vessel cleaning and ballasting operations.

SMS Safety Management System
(ISM Code)

SOLAS Safety Of Life At Sea
Main International Convention which regulates most safety aspect of commercial vessels.

SONARA Sosiete Nationale de Raffinage

SOPEP Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Procedure
Set of instructions to use in case of oil discharge. On most vessels carrying dry goods it is only needed for bunkering operation. These instructions however include many drills which must be carried out and recorded.

Spot market
Short term contracts, normally not longer than three months in duration.

SRT Sinclair Roche & Temperley
Law firm located in London, Hong Kong, Shangai, Bucharest: ownership of shipping companies, chartering, carriage of goods, financing, insurance. WWW.SRTLAW.COM.

SSHEX Sunday, Saturday and Holidays Excluded
Method of calculating the Lay days. These days are not counted.

SSCC/SSCEC Ship Sanitation Control Certificate / Ship Sanitation Control Excemption Certificate

STCW 95/98 Seafarer's Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code 95
IMO regulations on the minimum academic and training standards for deck and engine officers. These were necessary to fight certificates delivered by totally unqualified maritime schools. Together with the STCW the IMO publish a 'White List' of approved Nautical schools world wide. It remains that even those actual STCW standards are drastically low compared to those of three decades ago. With these STCW somebody can become captain after 24 months at sea only, thus less navigation time than some cadets of the sixties had when they became 4th mate not yet in charge of a watch. Even European nations are now joining the competition to lower the standards, assuming wrongly that anybody is able to sail or run a ship provided some minimum training has been offered. This goes against the increased complexity of the on board technology, against the variety and quantity of the dangerous and polluting goods transported, against the proliferation of rules which must be adhered to. Furthermore some training establsihment are urging the various national martime administration to reduce further the sailing time requirements by allowing 'virtual sailing time' to recruits who follow some special training or simulator courses!

Stowage factor often expressed in cubic feet per ton.(Here 54 cubic feet per ton)

STEM SubjecT Enough Merchandise
Note accompanying the booking an amount of cargo, bunker..

STEL Short Term Exposure Limit

Tanker between 120 000 dwt and 160 000 dwt

SW Salt Water
In reference to the water supporting the ship, meaning Sea Water. Usually the density of Salt Water is 1.025, but can vary from 1.023 up to 1.030 or even 1.033 in place like the Bitter Lakes in the Suez Canal.

S&W Sediment and Water
Material coexisting with,yet foreing to, petroleum liquid that requires separate measurement in a laboratory using appropriate API/ASTM/(or other) methods.

Back to letter selection

T T = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - )
Flag= Red, white, blue vertical stripes.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means : "Do not pass ahead of me."

TBN To Be Named.
Brokerage and chartering, replaces the name of the ship when it is still unknown.

T/C Time Charter
Hire of a vessel by a "Charterer" who trade the vessel for a fixed period. The shipowner still manage the vessel, but the Charterer pays for the fuel and the port costs.

TCE Time Charter Equvalent

TCV Total Calculated Volume
The total volume of all petroleum liquids and S&W,corrected by the appropriate temperature correction factor for the observed temperature and API gravity,relative density, or density to a standard temperature such as 60F or 15C also corrected by the applicable pressure factor and meter factor and all free water measured at observed temperature and pressure,(Gross Standard Volume plus free water).

Time charter (t/c)
An arrangement whereby a shipowner places a screwed ship at a charterers disposal for a certain period. Freight is customarily paid in advance. The charterer also pays for bunker charges, port duties etc.

TOV Total Observed Volume
The total measured volume of all petroleum liquids,S&W,and free water at observed temperature and pressure.

TGV Tres Grande Vitesse
High speed trains, also called HST. But as the french led the technology and got the fastest train (but not the best organisation which is to be found in Japan), the French designation prevailed.

THPA Thees & Hartlepool Port Authority
UK port agency.

TLm 96 Tolerance Limit median value for 96 hours
The concentration of a substance which would kill 50 per cent of exposed aquatic organisms within a 96 hour period.

TOVALOP Tanker Owners Voluntary Agreement concerning Liability for Oil Pollution
Agreement between most tankers owners who agree to pay jointly for clean-up costs in case of pollution by oil discharge from one of their vessel.

TLV Threshold Limit Value
Refers to airborne concentrations of substances, and represents conditions under which it is believed that nearly all workers may be repeatedly exposed for an 8 hour day, 5 days a week for a working lifetime (expressed as parts per million (ppm) for gases and vapours and as milligrams per cubic metre(mg/m3 ) for fumes, mists and dusts).

TPC/I Ton Per Centimer/Inch
Number of metric tons necessary to increase the draft by one centimer/inch when the ship is loaded near the Summer Draft.

TSS Traffic Separation Scheme

TWA Tlong Term Exposure Limit

Back to letter selection

UK NARIC = UK National Recognition Information Center.

U U = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . . - )
Flag= Two white and two red square.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means : "You are facing immediate danger."

UECC United European Car Carriers
Largest shortsea shipping line in Europe car carrying.(1999)

UHF Ultra High Frequency
(300-3000 MHz) The apparatus using these frequencies are the best one for internal communications on steel ships as they are not hampered by steel bulkheads.

ULLAGE GAUGE (or outage)
The measurement from the liquid surface to the reference point (gauge point) at top of tank.

ULCC Ultra Large Crude Carrier
Large tanker with a deadweight above 300000 tons deadweight

UTC Universal Time Co-ordinated
In the past referred to as GMT, also designated as 'Z'

UU Unless Used
Brokerage, chartering term usually accompanying the uses of Saturday, Sunday, Holidays. If these days are used to discharge/load the ship they are counted as laydays.


V V = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . . . - )
Flag= Diagonal red cross on a white background.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means : "I require assistance."(Kerchove)

VGP (US) Vessel General Permit for discharges incidental to the normal operations of the vessels

The sum of the Vessel Total Calculated Volume received devided into the sum of the shores Total Calculated Volume loaded for a minimum of five voyages.

VP Vapour Pressure
The pressure at which a liquid and its vapour are in equilibrium at a specific temperature. At this equilibrium, the gas above the liquid is saturated with the vapour, and condensation and evaporation are occurring at equal rates.

VCM Vinyl Chloride Monomer
Gas occasionaly carried by LPG tankers. Highly cancerogen, heard that the German allows a crew to carry the gas only once in their carreer. Classified as flamable, toxic and polymerizable.

VHF Very High Frequency
(30-300 MHz) Designate also the radio communication apparatus using this frequency. It reaches only slightly beyond the horizon, except in favourable circumstances where transmission up to several hundred miles are possible.

VLCC Very Large Crude Carrier
Large tanker of 180000 to 300000 tons deadweight

VOC Volatile Organic Compounds
A general term which refers to a large and diverse group of chemicals, including hydrocarbons, oxygenates and halocarbons that readily evaporate at room temperature.

VTS, VTIS Vessel Traffic (Information) Service
Shore based system which controls the traffic in port approaches, pilotage areas... It is only efficient if experienced masters or pilots are using the system.


W W = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( . - - )
Flag= Central red square set in a larger white square with all-round blue border.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means : "I require medical assistance."(Kerchove)

The operation of location the oil/water interface for the purpose of determing the volume of free water in a shore tank or vessel compartment.It is also used to refer to the line of demarcation of the oil/water interface.

A mathematical means to approximate the quantity of the small amounts of cargo or liquids onboards prior to loading and after discharge based on cargo compartment dimensions and vessel trim.

WIBON Whether In Berth Or Not
Meaning that the NOR can be tendered even if the ship is not yet alongside.

WLTHC Water Line / Top of Hatch Coaming
To see if the load/discharge gear is large and high enough to reach the hatches. As the size of the ships increased faster than the size of the berth, this is often a problem. The ship can at times be lowered by taking ballast, even if one hold if needed, but the depth can be a problem also. Giving a list can help in some cases.

WMO Wolrd Maritime Organization

VOC Volatile Organic Compounds

WPS Wolrd Port Services
Joint venture of American Port Services in which Associated British Port has a 50% holding, and two Belgian companies, Cobelfret and Hesse Natie.(LL 9-7Y). Working in the Port of Zeebrugge.

W.S.N.P. Weather Safe Navigating Permitted
Sheep's speed

WWD Weather Working Days
Days during which bad weather did not stop the load/discharge operations. Often this is a subject of dispute. The stevedore can have too much goods on the berth and stop the discharge at the slightest rain. Regularly a record of the local meteorological observations is used, but the crew should better keeps its own record.

WWL Wallenius Wilhelsmen Line
Shipping company specialized in Car carriers. President Chirster OLSON (1999)


X X = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - . . - )
Flag= White background and blue Greek cross.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means : "Stop carrying out your intention and watch my signal.(Kerchove)

XBE eXcluded Both Ends
Regarding the laydays, when an expression as SSHEX is used, it is extended to load and discharge ports.


Y Y = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - . - - )
Flag= Diagonal red and yellow stripes.
When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I am carrying mail"(Kerchove)

York-Antwerp Rules York-Antwerp Rules 1950
Rules to settle General Average claims. Their use is normally stipulated in the B/L or C/P.

Z Z = signal letter and flag. Morse = ( - - . . )
Flag= 4 colored triangle having their apex meeting at the center of the flag: black at the hoist, blue at the fly, yellow at the top, red at the bottom. When hoisted singly from a ship it means "I wish to communicate with a shore station"(Kerchove)

Old code name for charter parties relating to grain cargoes from Russian, Black sea and Azoff ports to UK. (Kerchove)

Small sailing coaster from the River Plate estuary and the adjacent waters of Brazil. (Kerchove)

Back to letter selection




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