The definition for Bulk Carrier from 1999 , "International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea" is as follows:
"a ship constructed with a single deck, top side tanks and hopper side tanks in cargo spaces and intended to primarily carry dry cargo in bulk",however, ships used for the carriage of solid bulk cargoes such as copper ore, cement, steel, wood materiyal, cereals and many others are known as Bulk Carriers. Nowadays this type of ships occupies 40% of the lights merchant fleet by gross tonnage / DWT / and bulk cargo occupies one third of the total in worldwide.
Bulk carriers are segregated into several subcategories as per their size and ability to pass through the main sea channels: Handysize, Handymax, Panamax and Capesize, as their size can range from those with less than 10,000 DWT, to a giant 400,000 DWT or more.
The largest from those categories are Capesize size ships, larger than 80,000 DWT, by being used primarily to carry coal and iron ore, on account of its size in number of ships in the world this category losing to much of Handysize and Handymax, vessels of up to 60,000 DWT and occupation more than half of the active bulk cargo worldwide.The third categorization-Panamax ships are strictly adapted to the size of the Panama Canal, they are sized somewhere between the categories mentioned above, 80 000DWT.
Traditional bulk carrier designs are single hull, double bottom arrangements with hoppers at the upper and lower corners similar to the midship sectionStructure is transversely framed and longitudinally stiffened. Each hold is accessed through a large hatch that is closed watertight with a hatch cover. The width of the hatches covers is about 45% of the width of the ship.The size of the hatch is limited by the amount of steel necessary in the deck to resist wracking and their number are max 9 or 11 .
The crew of the bulk carrier consists of a maximum of 30 people, while small vessels does not exceed 8 in number even as separate commands on the deck, engine and catering or housekeeping department.
Today, countries such as Greece, China and Japan are among the leading owners of bulk carriers.