Bill of lading (B/L) - Official legal document representing ownership of cargo; negotiable document to receive cargo; contract for cargo between shipper and carrier.
Box - Another (less formal) name for a shipping container. This is how they are often referred to in the industry.
Brake horsepower - a common unit of power, the rate at which work is done. The power of cars and other motor of engine-driven vehicles, including container ships, is often measured in brake horsepower.
Break bulk - loose cargo, such as cartons, stowed directly in the ship's hold as opposed to containerised or bulk cargo. The volume of break bulk cargo has declined dramatically worldwide as containerisation has grown.
Bulk cargo - commodity cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities. These cargos are usually dropped or poured as a liquid or solid, into a bulk carrier's hold. Examples of bulk cargo are grain, seed, coal and iron ore.
Carrier - any individual, company or corporation engaged in transporting goods. Container shipping lines are sometimes referred to as carriers.
Charter rate - a rate for shipping freight agreed between the owner of a vessel and the person wanting to use the vessel (the 'charterer').
Clean Cargo Working Group - an organisation that develops voluntary environmental management guidelines and metrics to help evaluate and improve the performance of freight transport. The aim is to integrate product transport into corporate supply chain management.
CO2 emissions - results from the burning of fossil fuels such as petroleum. It is broadly considered to be a factor contributing to global warming.
Container - a reusable steel rectangular box for carrying cargo that first came into common use about 50 years ago. The sizes of containers are standardised so that they can easily be moved between specially adapted containers ships, trains and trucks.
Container terminal - a docking, unloading and loading area within a port designed to suit the sizes and needs of container ships.
FEU - 'Forty-foot Equivalent Unit'. This is a container that is the same height and width as a TEU but twice the length. As a result, it has twice the capacity.
Freight rates - The charge made by a shipping line for the transportation of freight aboard one of its ships from one place to another.
Gantry crane - a type of crane used to load and unload container ships. It lifts objects with a hoist and can move horizontally on a rail or pair of rails.
Intermodalism - a system whereby standard-sized cargo containers can be moved seamlessly between different 'modes' of transport, typically specially adapted ships, barges, trucks and trains. Because the cargo does not need to be unloaded from the container every time it is moved from one mode to the other it is a very efficient and fast system of transportation.
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) - prescribes the numbers of lifeboats and other emergency equipment that ships must have, as well as safety procedures including continuous radio watches when a ship is at sea.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) - a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent marine pollution from ships. It is also involved in legal matters, including liability and compensation issues and the facilitation of international maritime traffic.
International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) - an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organisations. It was the ISO that prescribed the standard size of shipping containers to make global container trade more efficient.
International Ship and Port Facility Security Code - (ISPS Code) a code agreed between the signatories of the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) on minimum security arrangements for ships, ports and Coast Guard agencies. The Code was introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the overseer of the original SOLAS agreement, in the wake of fears of terrorist attacks on ships and ports after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001.
Knot - a nautical measurement of speed equal to 1.15 miles or 1.85 kilometres per hour on land. The speed of ships is measured in knots.
Maiden voyage - the very first journey a ship makes after being delivered from the ship-yard.
Manifest - a list of cargo being carried by a ship as declared by the shipper.
Pallet - a term used for a load-carrying platform onto which loose cargo is stacked before being placed inside a container. It is designed to be moved easily by fork-lift trucks.
Reefer - a temperature-controlled container usually refrigerated but sometimes heated. Inside each one is a complex system of coils, wires and electrical fittings, which are managed by a computer that controls everything from the temperature and humidity to ventilation and gas levels, all working to prevent the deterioration of fresh food or other sensitive goods over long distances and periods of time.
Shipper - any person or organisation paying for its cargo to be shipped from one place to another.
TEU - 'Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit'. This is the industry standard to measure containers. A 20-foot container's dimensions are twenty feet long (6.09 metres), 8 feet wide (2.4 metres) and 8 feet six inches high (2.6 metres). These dimensions have been set by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).
US Customs - Trade Partner Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) - a voluntary supply chain security programme led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and focused on improving the security of companies' supply chains with respect to terrorism.
Vessel - another word for a boat or ship. Container ships are sometimes referred to as vessels.
World Customs Organisation - an intergovernmental organisation that helps its members - customs administrations from 170 countries - to communicate and co-operate on customs issues.
World Shipping Council - a members' organisation which collaborates with governments on actionable solutions for some of the world's most challenging transportation problems. Its goal is to provide a coordinated voice for the liner shipping industry in its work with policymakers and other industry groups with an interest in international transportation.