Brush up on your international shipping vocabulary or find the definition for a specific shipping or customs term.





Sight draft. Or Sea damage.

Schedule B

The Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States.

Sea Bee Vessels

Ocean vessels constructed with heavy duty submersible hydraulic lift or elevator system at the stern of the vessel. The Sea Bee system facilitates forward transfer and positioning of barges. Sea Bee barges are larger than LASH barges. The Sea Bee system is no longer used.

Sea Waybill

Document indicating the goods were loaded onboard when a document of title (b/L) is not needed. Typically used when a company is shipping goods to itself.

Seawaymax Vessel

The largest vessel that can transit the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Length is 226 meters (740 feet), Beam is 24 meters (78 feet), Draft is 7.92 meters (26 feet).


The fitness of a vessel for its intended use.

Secure Freight Initiative (SFI)

It is a key provision of the SAFE Port Act of 2006 and is part of the International Container Security scanning project. It builds on its current partnership between the Container Security Initiative and the Megaports Initiative. It expands the use of scanning and imaging equipment to examine more U.S. bound containers not just those determined to be high risk.

Security Level 1

Is the level for which minimum appropriate protective security measures shall be maintained at all times.

Security Level 2

Is the level for which appropriate additional protective security measures shall be maintained for a period of time as a result of heightened risk of a security incident.

Security Level 3

Is the level for which further specific protective security measures shall be maintained for a limited period of time when a security incident is probable or imminent although it may not be possible to identify the specific target.


U.S. Commerce Department document Shippers Export Declaration.


A string of vessels which makes a particular voyage and serves a particular market.

Service Contract

As provided in the Shipping Act of 1984 a contract between a shipper (or a shippers association) and an ocean common carrier (or conference) in which the shipper makes a commitment to provide a certain minimum quantity of cargo or freight revenue over a fixed time period and the ocean common carrier or conference commits to a certain rate or rate schedule as well as a defined service level (such as assured space transit time port rotation or similar service features). The contract may also specify provisions in the event of nonperformance on the part of either party.


Saturday and Holidays Excluded.


Saturday and Holidays Included.


(1) A vessel of considerable size for deepwater navigation. (2) A sailing vessel having three or more squarerigged masts.

Ship Chandler

An individual or company selling equipment and supplies for ships.

Ship Demurrage

A charge for delaying a steamer beyond a stipulated period.

Ship Load

The amount of cargo a ship carries or is able to carry.

Ship Security Officer

Is the person on board the vessel accountable to the master designated by the Company as responsible for the security of the ship including implementation and maintenance of the ship security plan and for the liaison with the company security officer and the port facility security officers.

Ship Security Plan

Is a plan developed to ensure the application of measures on board the ship and designed to protect persons on board cargo cargo transport units ships stores or the ship from the risks of a security incident.

Ship Types

Barge Carriers Ships designed to carry barges, some are fitted to act as full containerships and can carry a varying number of barges and containers at the same time. At present this class includes two types of vessels LASH and SeaBee. Bulk Carriers All vessels designed to carry bulk homogeneous cargo without mark and count such as grain fertilizers ore and oil.Combination Passenger and Cargo VesselsShips with a capacity for 13 or more passengers and any form of cargo or freight.FreightersBreakbulk vessels both refrigerated and unrefrigerated containerships partial containerships rollon/rolloff vessels and barge carriers. A general cargo vessel designed to carry heterogeneous mark and count cargoes.Full ContainershipsShips equipped with permanent container cells with little or no space for other types of cargo.General Cargo CarriersBreakbulk freighters car carriers cattle carriers pallet carriers and timber carriers. A vessel designed to carry heterogeneous mark and count cargoes.Partial ContainershipsMultipurpose containerships where one or more but not all compartments are fitted with permanent container cells. Remaining compartments are used for other types of cargo.Rollon/Rolloff vesselsShips specially designed to carry wheeled containers or trailers using interior ramps. Includes all forms of car and truck carriers.Tankers Ships fitted with tanks to carry liquid bulk cargo such as crude petroleum and petroleum products chemicals Liquefied gasses (LNG and LPG) wine molasses and similar product tankers.


The tender of one lot of cargo at one time from one shipper to one consignee on one bill of lading.


The person or company who is usually the supplier or owner of commodities shipped. Also called Consignor.

Shippers Association

A non profit entity that represents the interests of a number of shippers. The main focus of shippers associations is to pool the cargo volumes of members to leverage the most favourable service contract rate levels.

Shippers Export Declaration SED Ex Dec

A joint Bureau of the Census International Trade Administration form used for compiling U.S. exports. It is completed by a shipper and shows the value weight destination etc. of export shipments as well as Schedule B commodity code.

Shippers Instructions

Shippers communication(s) to its agent and/or directly to the international water carrier. Instructions may be varied e.g. specific details/clauses to be printed on the B/L directions for cargo pickup and delivery.

Shippers Letter of Instructions for issu

The document required by the carrier or freight forwarders to obtain (besides the data needed) authorization to issue and sign the air waybill in the name of the shipper.

Ships Bells

Measure time onboard ship. One bell sounds for each half hour. One bell means 1230 two bells mean 100 and three bells mean 130 and so on until 400 (eight bells). At 430 the cycle begins again with one bell.

Ships Manifest

A statement listing the particulars of all shipments loaded for a specified voyage.

Ships Tackle

All rigging cranes etc. utilized on a ship to load or unload cargo.

Short Sea Shipping SSS (EuropeanEU)

Short Sea Shipping means the movement of cargo by sea between ports situated in geographical Europe or between those ports situated in nonEuropean countries having a coastline on the enclosed seas bordering Europe (Baltic Mediterranean and Black). It is a successful mode of transport in Europe.

Short Ton (ST)

A weight unit of measure equal to 2000 pounds.

Shrink Wrap

Polyethylene or similar substance heat treated and shrunk into an envelope around several units thereby securing them as a single pack for presentation or to secure units on a pallet.

Side Door Container

A container fitted with a rear door and a minimum of one side door.

Side Loader

A lift truck fitted with lifting attachments operating to one side for handling containers.

Sight Draft

A draft payable upon presentation to the drawee.


Society of International Gas Transport and Terminal Operators an industry organization promoting the exchange of safety information concerning the processing transporting and handling of liquefied gases.


Battens or a series of parallel runners fitted beneath boxes or packages to raise them clear of the floor to permit easy access of forklift blades or other handling equipment.


Shippers load and count. All three clauses are used as needed on the bill of lading to exclude the carrier from liability when the cargo is loaded by the shipper.


Loaded containers moving within the railroad system that are not clearly identified on any internally generated reports.


A wire or rope contrivance placed around cargo and used to load or discharge it to/from a vessel.


A vessels berth between two piers.


Subject to Particular Average. See also Particular Average.

Spine Car

An articulated five platform railcar. Used where height and weight restrictions limit the use of stack cars. It holds five 40 foot containers or combinations of 40and 20 foot containers.


Placing a container where required to be loaded or unloaded.


A piece of equipment designed to lift containers by their corner castings.


Saturdays Sundays and Holidays Excluded. Refers to loading and discharging of cargo as agreed to in the charter party. This indicates when time does not count in the calculation of demurrage and despatch.


The force that holds a vessel upright or returns it to upright position if keeled over. Weight in the lower hold increases stability. A vessel is stiff if it has high stability tender if it has low stability. In a ship stability is indicated by several characteristics. Initial stability is measured by the metacentric height, also known as GM. If GM is low the vessel makes long slow rolls and is considered tender. When GM is too high the vessel is considered stiff and may return violently to the upright position when rolling with possible damage to cargo and injury to passengers and crew. Other stability considerations include the vessels range of stability maximum righting arm and the angle of heel at which the maximum righting arm occurs.

Stack Car

An articulated five platform rail car that allows containers to be double stacked. A typical stack car holds ten 40 foot equivalent units (FEUs).


A rail service whereby rail cars carry containers stacked two high on specially operated unit trains. Each train includes up to 35 articulated multi platform cars. Each car is comprised of 5 well type platforms upon which containers can be stacked. No chassis accompany containers.

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)

A standard numerical code used by the U.S. Government to classify products and services.

Standard International Trade Classificat

A standard numeric code developed by the United Nations to classify commodities used in international trade based on a hierarchy.


The right side of a ship when facing the bow.

Statute Of Limitation

A law limiting the time in which claims or suits may be instituted.


Said to contain.


Standard Transportation Commodity Code.

Steamship Conference

A group of vessel operators joined together for the purpose of establishing freight rates.

Steamship Guarantee

An indemnity issued to the carrier by a bank, protects the carrier against any possible losses or damages arising from release of the merchandise to the receiving party. This instrument is usually issued when the bill of lading is lost or is not available.


The end of a vessel. Opposite of bow.


Individual or firm that employs longshoremen and who contracts to load or unload the ship.

Store Door Pick up Delivery

A complete package of pick up or delivery services performed by a carrier from origin to final consumption point.


A marine term referring to loading freight into ships holds.

Straddle Carrier

Mobile truck equipment with the capacity for lifting a container within its own framework.

Straight Bill of Lading

A non negotiable bill of lading which states a specific identity to whom the goods should be delivered.


Removing cargo from a container (devanning).


Putting cargo into a container.


Said to weigh.


To put in place of another, i.e. when an insurance company pays a claim it is placed in the same position as the payee with regard to any rights against others.

Suezmax Tanker

A tanker of 120000 to 199000dwt.

Sufferance Wharf

A wharf licensed and attended by Customs authorities.

Supply Chain

A logistical management system which integrates the sequence of activities from delivery of raw materials to the manufacturer through to delivery of the finished product to the customer into measurable components. Just in Time is a typical value added example of supply chain management.


An extra or additional charge

Surface Transportation Board (STB)

The U.S. federal body charged with enforcing acts of the U.S. Congress that affect common carriers in interstate commerce. STB replaced the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1997.


An additional extra tax


Transportation and Exportation.


A duty (or tax) levied on goods transported from one customs area to another. Tariffs raise the prices of imported goods thus making them less competitive within the market of the importing country. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement most duties on goods qualifying as NAFTAoriginating and services from Canada to the U.S. and Mexico have been eliminated.