Capesize ships are the giants of the sea, carrying millions of tons of coal, ore and other raw materials across the oceans. They are the largest dry cargo ships with a deadweight tonnage of over 170,000 tons, and some can reach up to 400,000 DWT. They are so big that they cannot fit through the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal, and have to go around Cape Agulhas or Cape Horn to travel between continents.
These ships are the backbone of the global trade, connecting 121 ports in 31 countries, with China, Japan, Brazil and Australia being the main trading partners. They mainly transport iron ore, which is used to make steel and is essential for the construction and manufacturing industries. Some capesize ships are specially designed to carry iron ore and are called very large ore carriers (VLOC) or very large bulk carriers (VLBC).
The capesize market is highly volatile and depends on various factors such as weather conditions, port congestion, supply and demand of commodities, and geopolitical events. The price and availability of iron ore also influence the capesize routes, as the demand for steel fluctuates with the economic cycles. The capesize rates are often used as an indicator of the health of the global economy, as they reflect the level of trade activity and consumption.
The name ‘capesize’ originates from the fact that these ships were originally too large to transit the Suez Canal (the canal was deepened in 2009 to allow some capesize ships to pass through) and had to pass either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn to traverse between oceans. These capes are notorious for their rough seas and strong winds, making the navigation challenging and risky for the capesize ships. The Cape Horn, in particular, is considered one of the most dangerous sailing routes in the world, as it is exposed to the fierce storms of the Southern Ocean.
Capesize ships are the marvels of engineering and navigation, as they can carry enormous amounts of cargo over long distances and through difficult waters. They are the ultimate expression of the human ambition and ingenuity, as they overcome the natural barriers and connect the world through trade and commerce. They are the capesize ships, and they rule the seas with their massive size and routes.
– Capesize – Wikipedia
– Capesize Bulk Carriers: A Complete Overview Of Giant Ships, Maritime Page, November 3, 2023
– What is Capesize Bulk Carrier?, HandyBulk, November 3, 2023
– Capesize Bulkers Connect 121 Ports in 31 Countries, The Maritime Executive, November 11, 2019