Maritime Terms, Abbreviations and Acronyms

Maritime abbreviations and acronyms go back to those days we used telegram and telex to communicate. The business model for telex and telegrams was “pay per letter”. Even though the telegrams and telexes have been retired, we still use the maritime abbreviations daily.

Below you will find a comprehensive list of terms, abbreviations, and acronyms used in the maritime industry, sorted in alphabetical order. You can search for an acronym or write a word and find the abbreviations where the word is included.

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Ship Stability: Area, generally.


Always afloat

A & CP

Anchors and chains proved

A Square Meal

In good weather, crews' mess was a warm meal served on square wooden platters.


Arabian Gulf


Any one event


Any one risk




Able bodied seaman, a member of the crew who is able to perform all duties of an experienced seaman.


Account or Air Changes. Account. This term is used when referring to a bank account and when allocating costs, such as in the phrase “for the a/c of charterers”


Term used by either the shipowner’s broker or the prospective charterer’s broker during the negotiations for the charter of a ship to signify that an offer or counter-offer is accepted apart from certain clauses or details. These are then listed together with the amendments sought.


Accept/Except. Term used by either the shipowner’s broker or the prospective charterer’s broker during the negotiations for the charter of a ship to signify that an offer or counter-offer is accepted apart from certain clauses or details. These are then listed together with the amendments sought.


Also for (referring to port/s to be touched by ship)


Anchor Handling


and/or; Account of


All risks or Against all risks


Arrived or Antwerp - Rotterdam range


Account sales or Alongside or After sight


First class condition


Always afloat or Always accessible or Apparent altitude


Always afloat always accessible


Alaska Administrative Code


Average Annual Growth Rate


Always afloat or safely aground


American Association of Port Authority


Against all risks or All and any risk


Amsterdam-Antwerp-Rotterdam Area


Association of American Shipowners


Above bridges or Answer Back


A point beyond the midpoint of a ship’s length, towards the rear or stern.


A proceeding wherein a shipper/consignee seeks authority to abandon all or parts of their cargo.


A discount allowed for damage or overcharge in the payment of a bill.


All Buoy Berth


Automated Bridge Control System For Unattended Engine Room


U.S. Customs’ “Automated Broker Interface,” by which brokers file importers’ entries electronically.


Referring to cargo being put, or laden, onto a means of conveyance.

Above Board

Anything on or above the open deck. If something is open and in plain view, it is above board.

Above deck

On the deck (not over it – see ALOFT)


American Bureau Of Shipping. A Classification Society. Under the provisions of the U.S. Load-Line Acts - it has the authority to assign load lines to vessels registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Absolute Viscosity

An observation of liquid's rate of flow under pressure applied to neutralize density's influence. This property, sometimes called dynamic viscosity, converts to kinematical viscosity by division. With density ex-pressed in gramscm, centistokes the units of kinematical viscosity, and centipoises the units of absolute viscosity. Centipoisesdensity = centistokes


One carrier assumes the charges of another without any increase in charges to the shipper.


About. A conditional term used in qualifying cargo, time, bunkers or speed, when discussing cargo. “about” usually covers a margin of 5 % either way (i.e. 25,000 LT 5% more or less, at owner’s option); when referring to a period of time, usually 15 days, although each case is considered on its own merit, In connection with bunkers, “about” has been interpreted to mean 5% latitude; regarding speed, the tolerance is generally one half knot.




American Chemistry Council

Accelerated Corrosion Test

Corrosion test carried out under more severe conditions that will yield results in a shorter time than in service


A time draft (or bill of exchange) that the drawee (payer) has accepted and is unconditionally obligated to pay at maturity. Broadly speaking, any agreement to purchase goods under specified terms.

Accessorial Charges

Charges that are applied to the base tariff rate or base contract rate, e.g., bunkers, container, currency, destination/delivery.

Accommodation Ladder

A term applied to a portable flight of steps suspended over the side of a vessel from a gangway to a point near the water, providing any easy means of access from a small boat. Accommodation Ladders are usually supplied with two platforms, one at each end. Sometimes called gangway ladder.

Accommodation Platform, jack up

A jack up offshore accommodation platform

Accommodation Platform, semi submersible

A semi submersible offshore accommodation platform

Accommodation Ship

A vessel providing accommodation for those working on other vessels and installations

Accommodation Vessel, Stationary

A stationary accommodation vessel

Accomplished Bill of Lading

Original Bill of Lading which has been surrendered to the carrying ship at the discharge port in exchange for the goods.




An aldehyde used as a starting material in the synthesis of acetic acid, n-butyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and other chemical compounds.


An ester formed from acetic acid and an alcohol

Acetic acid

Acetic acid is a key organic intermediate used in the preparation of metal acetates, used in some printing processes; vinyl acetate; acetic anhydride, and volatile organic esters, such as ethyl and butyl acetates.

Acetic anhydride

The most important of the organic anhydrides, used to manufacture pain-relieving pharmaceuticals (aspirin, paracetamol), modified starches, emulsifiers, liquid crystal polymers, dyestuffs and cellulose acetate, a major ingredient in photographic films and textiles.


An organic solvent of industrial and chemical significance, acetone is capable of dissolving many fats, resins and cellulose esters. It is used extensively in the manufacture of artificial fibers and explosives, as a chemical intermediate in pharmaceuticals, and as a solvent for vinyl and acrylic resins, lacquers, paints, inks, cosmetics (such as nail polish remover), and varnishes. It is used in the preparation of paper coatings, adhesives, and is also employed as a starting material in the synthesis of many compounds.


Any chemical compound with an acetate group.


American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. This organization includes professionals in government and education involved in occupational safety and health programs. One important function of this group is the determination and publication of recommended occupational exposure limits for chemical substances.


Any substance that in water solution tastes sour, changes the color of certain indicators, promotes certain chemical reactions, etc.. Examples of acids include inorganic substances such as sulfuric, nitric, and phosphoric acids, and organic compounds such as citric or maleic acid.

Acid Oil

Acid oil is a general term for a by-product obtained from the alkali refining of oils and fats. During alkali refining the free fatty acids are neutralised with alkali and this soapstock containing some emulsified neutral oil is separated. Acidification of the soapstock gives acid oil. Main components of acids oils are fatty acids, neutral oil and moisture. Acid oil requires further refining/purification before it is suitable for use in laundry soaps and washing powders.

Acid Pre-Treatment

The crude oil or fat is pre-treated with phosphoric acid or citric acid to remove impurities such as gums, mucilaginous materials and phosphatides present. Also referred to as "degumming", it is essential since it removes impurities which would otherwise give a highly coloured product.

Acid Value

This is defined as the number of milligrams of potassium hydroxide required to neutralise the free fatty acids in one gram of fat. Since acid value is an indication of the extent of hydrolysis and deterioration, oils with low acid value are sought after.


Free fatty acids have, as the name implies, a weak acidic nature. There will be a naturally occurring level of these present in each oil and levels can be further increased by hydrolysis (water breakdown) of triglyceride. The level of acidity may be expressed in several ways (please refer to Acid Value and Free Fatty Acids).

Acidulate soapstock (Acid Oil)

Soapstock, which contains mainly soaps and entrained neutral oil, is treated with sulphuric acid and heated to decompose the soaps. This produces a layer of oil of high free fatty acid content (acid oil) and an aqueous phase which is separated and treated prior to discharge as an effluent. The acid oils can be used in animal feeds as they possess high calorific values.


Advisory Committee of Offshore Technology


African, Caribbean, Pacific countries


When a bill of lading is accepted or signed by a shipper or shipper’s agent without protest, the shipper is said to acquiesce to the terms, giving a silent form of consent.


A written receipt in full, in discharge from all claims.

Acrylate elastomer

In latex paints, textile applications (backcoating), emulsion polymers for paper coating; as pulp additives, in floor polishes & sealants (resinous & polymeric coatings), in adhesives.

Acrylic acid

Acrylic acid and the basic alkyl esters (methyl, ethyl, butyl and 2-ethylhexyl esters) are important monomers used for the manufacture of polymer dispersions, adhesives, flocculants, detergents, varnishes, fibers and plastics as well as chemical intermediates.

Acrylic esters

When polymerized, acrylic esters, esters derived from acrylic acid, are the film-forming components of acrylic paints, coatings, textiles, adhesives, plastics and other applications.

Acrylic fibers

Acrylic fibers are artificial, thermoplastic fibers made from acrylonitrile. Fabrics produced from acrylic fibers wash and dry easily


Acrylonitrile is a chemical intermediate used in acrylic fibers, ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene), SAN (styrene-acrylonitrile) and NBR (nitrile-butadiene-rubber).


American Chemical Society or Arab Classification Society


U.S. Customs’ master computer system, “Automated Commercial Systems.” Now being replaced by the Automated Commercial Environment system.

Act of God

An act beyond human control, such as lightning, flood or earthquake.


Changing the condition of steel from passive to active

Activation Potential

The electrode potential at which a steel is changed from passive to active condition

Active State

state of a corroding metal surface which is below the passivation potential and associated with uniform corrosion


The level of catalyst's ability to do its work. The scale descends from fresh (full capacity right from the box or rejuvenator) to spent (coated, poisoned, or other wise neutralized.)

Actual condition

Ship Stability: A condition of the vessel that is observed.

Actual specifications

The quality reports on a specific parcel of fuel or feedstock. Such specifications do not constitute guarantees on the oil unless the seller says so. But they give a good description of the product available aboard a vessel or in a storage tank.


A short term period of action measured in seconds, minutes, hours, or days

Acute (aquatic) toxicity

Adverse effects that occur rapidly as a result of a short-term exposure to a chemical or physical agent. In fish or other aquatic organisms, effects that occur within a few hours, days or weeks are considered acute. Generally, acute effects are severe, the most common one measured in aquatic organisms being mortality. A chemical is considered acutely toxic if by its direct action it kills 50% or more of the exposed population of test organisms in a relatively short period of time, such as 24-96h to 14d.

Acute Effects of Overexposure

Refers to the adverse effects that normally are evident immediately or shortly after exposure to a hazardous material without implying a degree of severity

Acute toxicity

Adverse effects produced by single exposure to substance


After date


Adress commision

Ad val.

Ad Valorem (duty)

Ad Valorem

A term from Latin meaning, “according to value.” Import duty applied as a percentage of the cargo’s dutiable value.

Ad valorum

Means “at Value” a rate of freight based on the value of the goods.


According to value (ad valorem)


Ad Valorem Freight. Freight calculated on the value of the goods, expressed as a percentage thereof.


All Details About


Address Commission. Commission payable by the shipowner to the charterer. The reason for this system is sometimes said to be that the charterer’s shipping department for bookkeeping purposes must show some kind of income from their activities. State trading countries regularly include a 5% address commission in their orders.


Address Commission. Commission payable by the shipowner to the charterer. The reason for this system is sometimes said to be that the charterer’s shipping department for bookkeeping purposes must show some kind of income from their activities. State trading countries regularly include a 5% address commission in their orders.


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