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Capesize are large-sized bulk carriers and tankers typically above 150,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT).  They are much bigger than Panamax and Suezmax vessels both in terms of draught size and DWT, and so they are categorized under VLCC, ULCC and bulk carriers.  Nowadays, Capesize vessels with a DWT of up to 400,000 DWT are being built to meet the demands for ultra-large bulk carriers.

Capesize vessels are too large in size (especially their draught) to pass through the Panama Canal. As a result, they must transit via Cape Horn to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Earlier, they were not fit to pass through the Suez Canal and required to take a long root via the Cape of Good Hope to travel between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. But the deepening of the Suez Canal from 18 m (60 ft) to 20 m (66 ft) in 2009 permits most capesize vessels to pass through it. Due to their large dimensions and deep draughts, capesize ships are suitable to serve only large ports with deep water terminals in the world. As a result, they can serve a comparatively small number of ports in the world.

VLOC Berge Nord

Capesize ships are commonly used in transportation of coal, iron ore and commodity raw materials. Because of this fact, they are often termed as bulk carriers rather than tankers. In the subcategory of capesize vessels include the very large ore carriers (VLOC) and very large bulk carriers (VLBC) of above 200,000 DWT. These vessels are mainly designed to carry iron ore. According to estimates, 93% cargo of capesize bulkers comprises of iron ore and coal.  While a standard capesize vessel is around 175,000 DWT, bulkers up to 400,000 DWT or even more have been built in recent times to meet the growing demand for bulk ore transportation carriers.

VLCC Maersk Nautilus

There is a huge demand for large capesize vessels in the world today. The order book for capesize bulkers larger than 200,000 DWT has grown manifold in recent years. But with few of world’s ports having infrastructure to handle ships larger than 200,000 DWT, port access has emerged as a major problem for capesize vessels. At present, most of large capesize bulkers are being used for ore transportation between Australia and China, and Brazil and China.

Very Large Ore Carrier

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