The most common types of large cargo ships, explained

Aerial shot of shipyard containers meant to highlight opportunities for investors in the marine finance space

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), 90% of the world’s cargo is transported by sea. Transporting goods via cargo ships is generally considered to be the most cost-effective method with ships carrying everything from food to electronics to oil, and is a critical aspect of international trade finance

Marine finance is a subset of equipment finance, while Yieldstreet’s marine offerings comprise a wide array of dry bulk, tanker, and container vessels with varied carrying capacities measured in what is known as Deadweight Tonnage (DWT). Let’s take a closer look at the different types of vessels and sizes. 

Dry bulk carriers

Dry bulk carriers transport large quantities of dry goods. These vessels fall into roughly eight different sizes.

Handysize vessels have a carrying capacity of 15,000 to 35,000 DWT and range in length from 130m to 150m with a 10m draught. They typically contain five cargo holds for diversified storage with four on-deck cranes. Their shallow draught and small size allow them to operate in most ports across the world, making them the most common bulk carrier over 10,000 DWT.

Handysize vessels can carry a variety of dry bulk cargo, including iron ore, coal, cement, phosphate, finished steel products, wooden logs, fertilizer, and grains. These vessels are typically built in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines.

Handymax vessels with more modern builds can carry between 35,000 and 48,000 DWT. Measuring up to 150m to 200m in length with a draft of 11m to 12m, they have five cargo holds and four on-deck cranes, making them popular for unloading cargo in ports without sophisticated infrastructure.

When used as dry bulk carriers, they transport iron ore, coal, cement, finished steel, fertilizer, and grains, and they are most commonly built in Japan, South Korea, and China.

Invest in Alternatives Today

Supramax vessels are medium-sized vessels with a carrying capacity between 48,000 and 60,000 DWT, with a typical draught of 12.2m and 199m length. Because of their smaller size, Supramax vessels can enter and exit smaller ports.

An ultramax cargo ship that could be part of a marine finance portfolio at sunset dwarfing onlookers

Ultramax bulk carriers are medium-sized vessels. Larger than Supramax vessels, they have a carrying capacity generally between 60,000 to 65,000 DWT. These vessels are considered an upgrade over the smaller Supramax carriers.

Panamax vessels are medium-sized vessels with a carrying capacity of 65,000 and 80,000 DWT. These vessels are primarily used for transporting products in the Caribbean and Latin America. These vessels each have seven cargo holds and are designed to fit the locks of the Panama Canal. New size regulations set by the Panama Canal Authority mean these vessels can now reach dimensions of 366m in length, 49m in width, and 15.2m in depth.

Kamsarmax vessels are medium-sized vessels with a carrying capacity between 80,000 and 85,000 DWT. These vessels are specialized in that they designed to fit both through the Panama Canal, as well as fit within Port Kamsar in West Africa.

Post-Panamax vessels are larger vessels with carrying capacities between 85,000 and 110,000 DWT. Post-Panamax ships are also designed to fit through the Panama Canal.

Capesize vessels are the largest dry bulk marine option, measuring roughly 230m to 270m long with a draft of 17m and nine cargo holds. Due to their larger size, only a few ports can accommodate them while fully loaded. Their carrying capacity is between 110,000 and 200,000 DWT. Capesize vessels are used in the transportation of coal, iron ore, and commodity raw materials—most commonly between Australia and China, and Brazil and China.

Tanker vessels

Tankers carry a homogeneous cargo of gases or liquids (such as bitumen, fuel oil, cycle oils, edible oils, diesel/gas oil, kerosene, gasoline, petrol, paraffin, and even wines and molasses). Since tankers are not restricted by space constraints and are low-speed vessels with a maximum cruising capacity of 15.5 knots, they run on large marine diesel engines.

Our tanker offerings use the flexible market scale (as opposed to the fixed AFRA scale) that rates tankers on deadweight tonnage (DWT). They break down into five categories.

Handysize vessels are smaller vessels with a carrying capacity generally between 10,000 and 40,000 DWT. Due to their smaller size, Handysize ships can access ports of all sizes.

A large red cargo ship on the open ocean meant to highlight marine finance concepts in alternative investments

MR (Medium Range) vessels are medium-sized vessels with a carrying capacity generally between 40,000 and 55,000 DWT. MR vessels are often used to transport cargo shorter distances. For example, between Europe and the East Coast of the United States.

LR1 (Long Range 1) vessels are medium-sized vessels with a carrying capacity generally between 55,000 and 80,000 DWT. LR1 vessels are extremely common vessels because they are used to carry both refined products as well as crude oil.

Aframax vessels are roughly 245m in length. Their carrying capacity of 80,000 to 120,000 DWT makes them ideal for short- to medium-haul crude oil transport. They are most common in small harbors that cannot accommodate VLCC tankers (see below) and are used by non-OPEC countries with lower crude oil production. Common routes include South America to the U.S. Gulf region through the Caribbean, North Africa to Southern Europe through the Mediterranean, the former Soviet Union to Northern Europe through the Black Sea and the North Sea, and Southeast Asia.

Suezmax vessels are typically 285m in length and are the largest vessels able to pass through the Suez Canal, with a carrying capacity between 120,000 to 200,000 DWT and beams of roughly 50 to 77.5m. Before recent canal upgrades, the maximum-allowed draught was 18.90m, but ships built after 2017 have a draught of 21.95m.

VLCC (Very Large Crude Carriers) vessels can reach up to 470m in length with a beam of 60m, though standard VLCC vessel dimensions are 300 to 330m in length, 58m width, and 31m in depth. With a carrying capacity of 200,000 to 320,000 DWT, VLCCs can carry huge amounts of crude oil in a single trip and are sometimes referred to as Supertankers. They are commonly used for long-haul crude transportation from the Persian Gulf to Europe, Asia, and North America and can traverse the Suez Canal. This means they are also used frequently around the North Sea, Mediterranean, and West Africa.

A container ship as seen on the ocean carrying cargo meant to highlight opportunities in marine finance

Container vessels

Container vessels are designed to carry large quantities of cargo stored in shipping containers. Container ships fall into roughly four categories.

Feeder vessels are smaller vessels with a carrying capacity generally under 3,000 TEU. They refer to ships that travel short distances to carry cargo to and from larger vessels—these larger vessels are often referred to as “mother vessels.”

Intermediate vessels are small to medium-sized vessels with a carrying capacity generally between 3,000 and 7,999 TEU.

Neo-Panamax vessels (or also referred to as New Panamax vessels) are medium to large-sized vessels with a carrying capacity generally between 8,000 and 14,999 TEU. These vessels were constructed to take advantage of the larger dimensions of the newer locks at the Panama Canal.

Post-Panamax vessels are large vessels with a carrying capacity generally above 15,000 TEU. Post-Panamax vessels are ships that are too large to pass through the Panama Canal.

Interested in learning more about marine finance? Browse our marine finance blog.

This communication and the information contained in this article are provided for general informational purposes only and should neither be construed nor intended to be a recommendation to purchase, sell or hold any security or otherwise to be investment, tax, financial, accounting, legal, regulatory or compliance advice. Any link to a third-party website (or article contained therein) is not an endorsement, authorization or representation of our affiliation with that third party (or article). We do not exercise control over third-party websites, and we are not responsible or liable for the accuracy, legality, appropriateness or any other aspect of such website (or article contained therein).
How helpful is this content?

Share this article:

Sign up for Yieldstreet in 3 easy steps

Sign up with your email address

Securely verify your identity and link a bank account

Verify your accreditation (if applicable) to access all of Yieldstreet’s offerings.

The Yield

Our weekly podcast providing ideas about how to make money work for you and bring you closer to your dreams.

Since inception, over $1.8B has been invested on Yieldstreet

Join today for free to access alternative investment opportunities.

1 Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Any historical returns, expected returns, or probability projections may not reflect actual future performance. All securities involve risk and may result in significant losses.

3 "Annual interest" or "Annualized Return" represents an annual target rate of interest or annualized target return and "term" represents the estimated term of the investment. Such target interest or target returns and estimated term are projections of the interest or returns and or term and may ultimately not be achieved. Actual interest or returns and term may be materially different from such projections. This targeted interest or returns and estimated term are based on the underlying investments held by the applicable.

4 Reflects the initial quarterly distribution declared by the board of directors on February 6, 2020, which will be payable to stockholders of record as of June 10, 2020, and the initial offering price of $10 per share.

5 The Fund will cease investing and seek to liquidate the Fund's remaining portfolio no later than 48 months after the Fund's initial closing. It may take up to twelve months thereafter to fully monetize any remaining illiquid investments in the Fund's portfolio.

6 Represents the sum of the interest accrued in the statement period plus the interest paid in the statement period.

7 The internal rate of return ("IRR") represents an average net realized IRR with respect to all matured investments weighted by the investment size of each individual investment, made by private investment vehicles managed by YieldStreet Management, LLC from July 1, 2015 through and including Sept 6th, 2021, after deduction of management fees and all other expenses charged to investments.

8 Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Yieldstreet Prism Fund before investing. The prospectus for the Yieldstreet Prism Fund contains this and other information about the Fund and can be obtained by emailing [email protected] or by referring to www.yieldstreetprismfund.com. The prospectus should be read carefully before investing in the Fund. Investments in the Fund are not bank deposits (and thus not insured by the FDIC or by any other federal governmental agency) and are not guaranteed by Yieldstreet or any other party.

300 Park Avenue 15th Floor, New York, NY 10022

844-943-5378

No communication by YieldStreet Inc. or any of its affiliates (collectively, “Yieldstreet™”), through this website or any other medium, should be construed or is intended to be a recommendation to purchase, sell or hold any security or otherwise to be investment, tax, financial, accounting, legal, regulatory or compliance advice. Nothing on this website is intended as an offer to extend credit, an offer to purchase or sell securities or a solicitation of any securities transaction.

Any financial projections or returns shown on the website are estimated predictions of performance only, are hypothetical, are not based on actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. Estimated projections do not represent or guarantee the actual results of any transaction, and no representation is made that any transaction will, or is likely to, achieve results or profits similar to those shown. In addition, other financial metrics and calculations shown on the website (including amounts of principal and interest repaid) have not been independently verified or audited and may differ from the actual financial metrics and calculations for any investment, which are contained in the investors’ portfolios. Any investment information contained herein has been secured from sources that Yieldstreet believes are reliable, but we make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy of such information and accept no liability therefor.

Private placement investments are NOT bank deposits (and thus NOT insured by the FDIC or by any other federal governmental agency), are NOT guaranteed by Yieldstreet or any other party, and MAY lose value. Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any federal or state securities commission or regulatory authority has recommended or approved any investment or the accuracy or completeness of any of the information or materials provided by or through the website. Investors must be able to afford the loss of their entire investment.

Investments in private placements are speculative and involve a high degree of risk and those investors who cannot afford to lose their entire investment should not invest. Additionally, investors may receive illiquid and/or restricted securities that may be subject to holding period requirements and/or liquidity concerns. Investments in private placements are highly illiquid and those investors who cannot hold an investment for the long term (at least 5-7 years) should not invest.

Alternative investments should only be part of your overall investment portfolio. Further, the alternative investment portion of your portfolio should include a balanced portfolio of different alternative investments.

Articles or information from third-party media outside of this domain may discuss Yieldstreet or relate to information contained herein, but Yieldstreet does not approve and is not responsible for such content. Hyperlinks to third-party sites, or reproduction of third-party articles, do not constitute an approval or endorsement by Yieldstreet of the linked or reproduced content.

Investing in securities (the "Securities") listed on Yieldstreet™ pose risks, including but not limited to credit risk, interest rate risk, and the risk of losing some or all of the money you invest. Before investing you should: (1) conduct your own investigation and analysis; (2) carefully consider the investment and all related charges, expenses, uncertainties and risks, including all uncertainties and risks described in offering materials; and (3) consult with your own investment, tax, financial and legal advisors. Such Securities are only suitable for accredited investors who understand and willing and able to accept the high risks associated with private investments.

Investing in private placements requires long-term commitments, the ability to afford to lose the entire investment, and low liquidity needs. This website provides preliminary and general information about the Securities and is intended for initial reference purposes only. It does not summarize or compile all the applicable information. This website does not constitute an offer to sell or buy any securities. No offer or sale of any Securities will occur without the delivery of confidential offering materials and related documents. This information contained herein is qualified by and subject to more detailed information in the applicable offering materials. Yieldstreet™ is not registered as a broker-dealer. Yieldstreet™ does not make any representation or warranty to any prospective investor regarding the legality of an investment in any Yieldstreet Securities.

Banking services are provided by Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC.

Investment advisory services are provided by YieldStreet Management, LLC, an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Our site uses a third party service to match browser cookies to your mailing address. We then use another company to send special offers through the mail on our behalf. Our company never receives or stores any of this information and our third parties do not provide or sell this information to any other company or service.

Read full disclosure
Copyright © 2021 YieldStreet, Inc.