Bulkheads. These are steel divisions across the vessel either transversely or fore and aft. The functions of bulkheads are:

Baltic Exchange. Situated in London, England, this is the foremost shipping market-place in the world. Shipbrokers meet in the Exchange daily to charter ships and to exchange information. Trade is also carried out in commodities such as grain. The Baltic also lends its name to an "Index", the Baltic Freight Index (BFI). Since 1985 there has been a development of freight futures (BIFFEX), and these are also transacted on the "floor" of the Exchange.


Barrel (Bbl). A unit of measurement of liquid cargoes, usually oil. One bbl contains 34.97261 Imperial gallons or 42 U.S. gallons, or 1 cubic metre of oil measures 6.29 bbls. If the specific gravity of the oil is 0.8, one tonne of oil will be approximately 7.9 bbls


Bill of health. The Bill of Health is the certificate that used to be issued by the local authorities indicating the general health conditions in the port of departure or ports of call.

Bona fide. "Good faith”. This is a legal term that comes from the Latin language and suggests honesty or sincerity. For example, in negotiations for a charter fixture one side must give bona fide information about the ship or the cargo to the other side.


Break bulk cargo. This is cargo carried on board traditional, conventional general cargo ships. The cargo is loaded and discharged one piece at a time (heavy cargoes) or a few pieces at a time, such as a number of bales or drums or a bundle of steel sheets.


Black list. Because oil tankers frequently load oil from Islamic countries these countries may place certain ports on a "black list" such as Israeli or South African ports, and if tankers are known to have called at ports in those countries, the tankers' names are on this black list and the ship can be boycotted and refused entry or cargo.

Blockade. Belligerent powers have the right of blockade, i.e., the right to blockade enemy ports or coastal territory for ocean shipping by military measures.

The blockade must be respected by neutral states. Running a blockade, if unsuccessful, may entail boarding and searching for contraband and confiscation of ship and cargo.


Bilge. The bilge of a vessel with double bottom tanks is a triangular channel on both sides formed by the margin plate of a double bottom, the curvature of the outer skin of the vessel and the bilge ceiling.

Back haul. This may be a diversion for a tanker to move cargo on the return leg of a voyage in order to minimise the ballast mileage.

Broker. In the context of chartering, the most common "broker" is a "shipbroker". In general, in shipping, a broker is a person who acts as a "middleman" between two parties and negotiates the terms of a contract into which the two parties enter. The broker acts as an agent and usually represents only one of the parties, negotiating with the other party directly or with another broker representing the other side. In addition to a shipbrokerwho can be an owner's broker or a charterer's agent negotiating a charter.

Box rates. This is the freight rate for the carriage of a container, usually irrespective of the cargo in the container although some conferences and liner operators may offer their services on a box commodity rate.


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