Differences Between Break bulk and Bulk Shipping

While the words “bulk” and “break bulk” are used interchangeably in the shipping industry, there are significant distinctions between the two in terms of size, capacity, handling, cargo, and so on.

This article will explain the distinction between Bulk and Break Bulk.

What is Bulk Shipping?

The term BULK refers to the shipping operations in which dry cargoes such as iron ore, grain, coal, alumina, and phosphorus are transported in bulk. Meaning the shipment is not packed in containers.

Bulk cargo is carried by vessels known as Bulk Carriers, Ore Carriers, or Bulkers, and they are classified in terms of their Deadweight (DWT). DWT refers to the maximum weight a ship can safely carry alongside the crew, fuel, and other stores.

There are two types of Bulk Carriers

  • Gearless: the ship isn’t equipped with cranes or other cargo handling equipment. These ships can only berth in terminals with the required equipment available in the dock.
  • Geared: the ship has cranes and other cargo handling equipment, which means they can berth on any port.

What is Break Bulk Shipping?

Break Bulk refers to the transportation of commodities that are carried in units such as palletized, bagged, bundled, or strapped cargoes or non-unitized general cargo such as automobiles, steel, and so on.

Break Bulk is carried by Break Bulk vessels, Multi-Purpose or General Cargo vessels and comes in different sizes and types like Single Decker, Tween Decker, Box Holds, etc. Cargo can be loaded under the deck, on the deck, or between the decks as in the tween deck.

Like Bulk Carriers, Break Bulk vessels come in two types: Gearless and geared. 

Breakbulk freight rates are determined based on the cargo’s volume (CBM) or weight (MT).

Bottom Line

While Bulk and Break Bulk may seem similar at first glance to many, they’re used to handle different types of cargo using different types of vessels.

All Seas Shipping can carry all sorts of loads, from breakbulk to bulk, and can do so by chartering both Gearless and Geared ships.

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