Also known as: wet cargo vessel, wet bulk carrier

An oil tanker is a sea-going ship specifically designed to move large volumes of crude oil or refined product over long distances.

Oil tankers are typically categorized as either dirty tankers (which move crude oil or dirty products such as residual fuel oil) or clean product tankers (which move clean products such as gasoline and diesel).

Oil tankers are categorized by size or class based on their dead weight ton (DWT) capacity. The major size classes are:

  • Coastal - 3-10,000 DWT typically used only in coastal waters. Clean product only
  • Small - 10-20,000 DWT. Also called SR or short range. Clean product only
  • Handy - 20-55,000 DWT. Clean product or crude. Also called MR or medium range if dedicated to clean product
  • Panamax - 60-80,000 DWT. Largest tanker capable of transiting the Panama Canal. Clean product or crude. Also called LR1 if dedicated to moving light product over long distance
  • Aframax - 80-120,000 DWT. Clean product or crude. Also called LR2 if dedicated to moving clean product over long distance
  • Suezmax - 120-180,000 DWT. Largest tanker capable of transiting the Suez Canal. Crude only
  • VLCC - 200-320,000 DWT. Crude only
  • ULCC - 320-560,000 DWT. Crude only

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