Different Types of Tankers: Extensive Classification of Tanker Ships

Tankers are a very vital cog in the entire global marine cargo operation. Mammoth and huge, they help ferry bulk loads of commodities and materials across the world which keeps maintain continuity in the other industrial and commercial operations.

Tankers however are not just restricted to one particular type or variety. There are many varied types of tankers that are used in the process of oceanic cargo transportation. This classification of tankers can be based on several factors. However, there are two categories in which shipping tankers can be classified:

-By Type/Purpose

-By Size

tanker ship

Tanker Ship

Classified of the Tankers on basis of Type

 1.    Oil Tankers: Oil tankers, as their name suggests carry oil and it’s by products. Oil tanker however, is a generic terminology and includes not only crude oil but also petrol, gasoline, kerosene and paraffin. Oil tankers are further sub-divided into two main types: product tankers and crude tankers:

–       Product tankers are used to transport the above mentioned petroleum based chemicals

–       Crude tankers are specifically used to transport crude oil from the excavation site to the crude oil refining industrial plant

2.    LNG Carrier: The LNG Carriers are those tanker ships that are used to cargo LNG or Liquefied Natural Gas. These types of tankers require careful and delicate handling owing to the precariousness of the material they carry. Statistically speaking, there are around 193 LNG tankers that are currently under operation.

LNG carrier Gaselys

LNG carrier Gaselys

3.    Chemical Tankers: Chemical tankers are those cargo tankers which transport chemicals in various forms. Chemical tankers are specifically designed in order to maintain the consistency of the chemicals they carry aboard them. These tanker ships are applied with coatings of certain substances that help in the easy identification of the chemicals that need to be transported.

 Tanker ship Stolt Emerald

Tanker ship Stolt Emerald

4.    Slurry Tankers: Slurry refers to all those materials that do not disperse or dissolve in water – otherwise regarded as waste materials. Slurry is used as a fertiliser and the slurry tankers help to haul slurry to areas where they can be put to productive use.

5.    Hydrogen Tankers: As the name suggests, hydrogen tankers are cargo tankers used for the shipping and transportation of liquefied hydrogen gas.

6.    Juice Tankers: Juice tankers or more specifically orange juice tankers which are used for the cargo carrying of orange juice in mass quantities. One of the biggest juice tankers is the Brazilian tanker Carlos Fischer. However, other fruit juices carriers are also available.

oil tanker Heather Knutsen

Oil tanker Heather Knutsen

7.    Wine Tankers: Transporting wine has become quite simpler and feasible in contemporary times as sleek tankers have come up which are used specifically to carry wine to their intended destinations.

8.    ITB (Integrated Tug Barges): ITBs are prominently used in the eastern coast of the United States. These tankers are mainly tugs attached to barges leading to the formation of a single cargo carrying unit.

Classification of Tankers on the basis of Size

 Some of the tankers shipping varieties in this category are as follows:

 1.       VLCC:  Known as Very Large Crude Carriers, these tankers have a cargo carrying capacitance of 2, 50,000 tons. Know more about them here. (Link here)

VLCC Sirius Star

VLCC Sirius Star

2.       ULCC: They are known as Ultra Large Crude Carriers and have a cargo hauling capacitance range up to 5, 00,000 tons. Know more about them here. (Link here)

3.       Panamax: The classification of tankers that can pass through the Panama Canal is known as the Panamax. The cargo tankers which cannot be classified under this category owing to their size are known as the Post-Panamax tankers. (Link here)

4.       Aframax: The Aframax cargo tankers are that type of tanker ships which are mainly used in the Mediterranean, China Sea and the Black Sea. These tankers have a dead weight tonnage (DWT) between 80,000 and 1, 20,000 tonnes.

5.       Suezmax: Panamax tankers are named for vessels which can navigate through the Panama Canal. On similar lines, the Suezmax vessels are so called because of their ease in passing through the Suez Canal.

Tanker ship size

Tanker ship size
Image credits: hofstra.edu

Although it is a known fact that many cargo ships cause oceanic pollution and degrade the marine environment, it cannot be denied that in the present day scenario, these tankers shipping offer the best possible transportation efficiency.

Practical Tanker Operation Guides 

The Ultimate Guide to Cargo Operation Equipment for Tankers” is a practical eBook which includes 25 chapters focused on explaining all important equipment that are used for handling cargo operation on tanker ships.

The Ultimate Guide to Cargo Operations for Tankers“offers a comprehensive explanation of all operations that are required to handle cargo on tanker ships. The guide features real life incidences and expert tips to help you understand each cargo handling operation with practical solutions.

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  1. ajml says

    Orange juice carriers are not classified as tankers by the classification societies. That ships have independent cilindrical tanks inside of insulated holds, so they have more things in common with a reefer vessel than with a product tanker.

  2. says

    LNG tankers are not inherently hazardous. LNG vapor is lighter than air and thus tends to quickly dissipate into the upper atmosphere. LNG vapor has a very narrow ignition range, representing the proportion of methane to oxygen which can be ignited. They are “exotic” because they require refrigeration and sometimes pressure to maintain the methane in liquid state.
    LPG (liquid propane gas) tankers are much more hazardous. LPG vapor is heavier than air and clings to the ground or sea surface. LNG vapor has a much greater ignition range, and thus it is easily ignighted. You don’t have LPG tankers listed.

  3. geoffrey mumbo says

    thanks for your share it has helped me in my studies in the course shipping and logistics especially in classifying tankers thanks to your post

  4. Gordon says

    Thanks for the info. Do they make tankers for water (fresh) or do they use any type of tankers to transport water?

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