Vessels that ply loose cargo loads in bulk quantities across oceanic channels are referred to as bulk carriers.
The idea of a bulk carrier to transport important food grains, ores and minerals dates back to the 1850s. However there have been several noteworthy advancements in the construction and utilisation of the vessel type in the years following.
These constructional developments have ensured that the bulk carrier vessels remain an indispensable and integral cog in the merchant maritime domain. These developments also enhanced the safety of bulk carriers.
Statistics show that in the current prevailing merchant marine scenario, bulkers account for almost 40% of the total mercantile vessels operable globally, which could very well rise in the coming decades.
Giving testimony to the developmental paradigms of the bulkers, mentioned below are some of the significant kinds of the vessel type:
Gearless Bulkers: Bulkers that are unequipped with cranes and conveyor facilities are gearless bulkers.
Huge in size, these bulk carriers make port only on those ports of call which provide conveyor and crane facilities to discharge their bulk loads. And since only a few ports offer such facilities, there automatically comes a cap on the number of port calls made by a gearless bulk carrier.
BIBO Bulkers: Acronym for Bulk In, Bags Out; these kinds of bulkers streamline the loaded bulk cargo in the vessel by sacking the same into smaller quantities. Since the process occurs simultaneously, while the cargo is laded onto the ship, these vessels command a unique respect amongst the other existing vessel kinds.
Self-discharging Bulkers: A self-discharging bulker is so called because of the internal equipping of transporter belts. The belt facility allows the faster and speedier discharging of the bulker’s loads, thus streamlining the whole process.
Conventional Bulkers: A conventional bulker is a vessel that is built with hatchways. Alongside, the vessel is also equipped with cranes and transporters to facilitate ease in the loading and unlading processes. These vessels enjoy a much better tractability in terms of their cargo loads and their navigational routes.
Bulkers Lakers: The bulk carrier ships that ply in the American Great lakes are called as the lakers. Recognisable on account of their distinct constructional style, these vessels enjoy a better operational longevity.
In order to accommodate the ever-growing size of bulkers, there have been several reformations brought about in various navigational channels. Names like Panamax, Handymax and Capesize, in this context are important developments as they highlight pinnacles of growth achieved by the international maritime sector.