TERM DEFINITION
Actuate The term used to describe when a naval mine activates or is "set off".
Aframax Vessels with maximum dead weight tonnage between 80,000 to 120,000 DWTs are generally referred to as "Aframax" vessels. The pre-fix "AFRA" originates from "average freight rate assessment. Aframax oil tankers are used in areas that cannot support large supertankers (see ULCC or VLCC) or even Suezmax tankers.
American Bureau of Shipping A maritime classification society that competes with Lloyd's Register. Like Lloyd's Register, the American Bureau of Shipping helps set standards and codes for ship design, construction and operation.
Anti-Submarine Warfare Refers to military operations using surface ships, aircraft or submarines to seek out and destroy enemy submarines.
Anti-Submarine Mortar An array of spigot mortars, designed to fire off a number of small explosives simultaneously and create a collection of explosions around a submarine's position.
Asymmetric Warfare Referred to as war between two groups/belligerents whose military capabilities and power differ widely. In this context, the term asymmetric warfare describes the Iranian use of more unconventional tactics in an attempt to offset a lack of more conventional capabilities.
Ballast A water-filled compartment or tank used by submarines and boats to manipulate buoyancy.
Bathymetry The topography of the ocean floor.
Cargo insurance An insurance policy that covers the risk of damage to the freight carried by a vessel. In this context, cargo insurance would be purchased to cover damage to the physical oil carried by the tanker.
Chokepoint A chokepoint is an area or bypass characterized by geographic constraints such as narrow width or shallow water. Chokepoints can become "bottlenecks" because of the amount of traffic and difficult nature of navigating through the constrained area. Examples of key chokepoints worldwide include the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf (where nearly 20% of daily worldwide oil demand flows each day), the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia (key intercontinental shipping lane), the Suez Canal in Egypt, the Panama Canal, the Bosporus in Turkey and the STrait of Gibraltar between Europe and Africa.
CTL Ships that are economically "written off" because fixing them would be too expensive (cost of repairs > value of the ship).
Deadweight Tons (DWT) The total weight of the ship (including cargo, crew, provisions, etc.) minus the weight of the ship if it were empty.
De-gauss The process of decreasing or eliminating the magnetic field of an object. De-gaussing is sometimes used on large sea vessel in an attempt to lower the probability that a vessel will set-off (or actuate) a naval mine.
Depth charge Is an anti-submarine mechanism in which a large canister filled with explosives is set to explode at a predetermined depth.
Double-Hulled Tankers A hull design and construction method where the bottom and sides feature two separate layers, or walls, of steel. One of the key reasons behind the emergence of the double-hulled oil tanker was to help prevent massive oil spills.
Draft The vertical distance between the surface of the water and the bottom of the hull (called the keel). Fully-loaded supertankers (>200,000 DWT) have drafts of over 20 meters.
Drag Reduction Agent A chemical substance injected into crude oil flowing in a pipeline. The chemical helps to "thin" the oil, thereby increasing the pipeline's full transport capacity without changing the physical structure of the pipeline.
Drydock A specially designed area that can be systematically flooded and then drained so as to allow ships in and out. Drydocks are used during ship construction, maintenance and repair.
EM-52 Naval Mine An unguided, rising rocket-propelled naval mine manufactured by the Chinese. EM-52s are primarily deployed via submarines, but also can be deployed via aircraft or surface vessels.
Futures Market According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a futures market is a mechanism designed to distribute risk among participants on different sides (or with different expectations) of the market, but not generally to supply physical volumes of oil. Futures markets are designed as a financial mechanism. While everyone in the market wishes to buy at a low price and sell at a high price, buyers and sellers are on opposite sides of the transaction and their risks are inherently different.
Hotel Load The electrical underwater power of the submarine.
Hull insurance An insurance policy covering the physical structure of a vessel. Typically purchased by the ship owner and/or ship charterer, hull insurance typically covers any structural damage to a vessel's steel construction occuring during normal maritime operations (i.e., not incurred in hostile military conflict).
Invisible pier Undeclared dock and/or port facilities along the Iranian Persian Gulf coast. According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, many believe these facilities could enable an Iranian attack using small boats on traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.
Kilo-class Submarine A type of an electric-diesel submarine designed by the Russians in the 1982 to protect for anti-shipping and anti-submarine operations to defend naval bases, coastal installations and sea-lanes.
Liability Coverage A form of insurance taken out by ship owners and/or charters to protect them against any damage their vessel causes to 3rd parties (e.g., other ships, other crew, port infrastructure, etc.).
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, the LTTE is a "separatist terrorist group that seeks an independent state in areas in Sri Lanka inhabited by ethnic Tamils (according to the Council on Foreign Relations). Labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, the LTTE has used both conventional and unconventional (e.g., suicide attacks using small boats) attacks over the past twenty years primarily against the Sri Lankan government.
Liquifed Natural Gas Natural gas that has been converted to liquid form for ease of transportation.
Lloyd's Register A maritime classification society based in London, England, Lloyd's Register sets standards to ensure quality and reliability during ship design, construction and operation. According to their website, Lloyd's Register works with worldwide organizations like the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) to set codes and standards in maritime operations. Although originating from Edward Lloyd's coffee house in the 1700s, Lloyd's Register formed separately from other entities bearing the Lloyd's name, including Lloyd's of London.
Magnetic Anomaly Detention A detection mechanism for submarines, in which an electronic receiver designed to pick up magnetic radiation of large metal objects.
Maritime exclusion zone An area of water whereby a an entity (e.g., country, militant group, etc.) declares that any vessel or aircraft entering the "zone" will be fired upon / attacked without warning.
Oil Streams Refers to the different classifications of crude oil. Crude oil streams are classified by geography (e.g., West Texas or Saudi), density and sulfur concentration. Market prices for oil vary by classification. For example, low density (or light), sweet crude oil usually commands higher prices in the market when compared to heavy, sour crude oil. OPEC monitors the world oil market for OPEC oil streams by creating their own classification or reference price, called the OPEC Reference Basket. This price is the average market price of a sampling of OPEC nation oil streams (e.g., Arab Light (Saudi), Saharan (Algeria), Basra Light (Iraq)).
Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) OAPEC is a multi-governmental organization consisting of only Arab countries that work together to set petroleum production policies. Currently, many of the same members of OPEC are also associated with OAPEC, including Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Other members include Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia (temporarily suspended).
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) An intergovernmental organization, often referred to as a cartel, consisting of fourteen member countries that work together in regulating the production and exporting of petroleum into the global market. Established in 1960, according to the OPEC website OPEC's original member countries included Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela. Since then, a number of other significant oil producing countries have joined OPEC, including Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria and Ecuador.
Panamax Refers to the largest designations of ships that can safely traverse the Panama Canal. A typical maximum dead weight tonnage would be approximately 65,000 DWT.
Oil Reserves Refers to significant deposits of unextracted, in-ground oil supplies. Supplies of oil within the reserve should be economically recoverable under current market conditions, i.e., usually does not include unconventional, expensive oil found in tar sands or oil shale.
Radar An instrument that uses electromagnetic waves to identify the range, altitude, direction, or speed of both moving and fixed objects such as aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, submarines, weather formations, and terrain.
Shkval Torpedo A high speed (over 200mph), Russian-made "╦ťevasion torpedo' most commonly used as a countermeasure torpedo in ASW. The torpedo can also be used in offensive warfare, but its suspect guidance system and extremely high speed severely impairs its stability and accuracy. Equipped with a conventional 210 kilogram warhead, the Shkval features an effective range of 7500 yards.
Slack Capacity Refers to the amount of "extra" infrastructure available in the global oil market that could be used to support the market in the event of a blockage in the Strait of Hormuz or any other chokepoint. Slack capacity can refer to various aspects of oil markets, including extra oil production capacity, extra oil transport/pipeline capacity or extra oil storage capacity.
Spot Market According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an oil spot market is an agreement to sell or buy one shipment of oil under a price agreed-upon at the time of the arrangement.
Sonar The method of using sound to detect other vessels underwater.
Suezmax Vessels with maximum dead weight tonnage between 120,000 and 160,000 DWTs are generally referred to as "Suezmax" vessels. Generally, "Suezmax" vessels are the largest designation of of ships that can traverse the Suez Canal.
Tanker War The anti-ship campaign carried out from 1981 to 1989 between Iran and Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) One of the IMO's most important instruments to promote tanker safety is the MARPOL. Established in the late 1970s, the convention established a number of safety initiatives, including damage stability requirements to prevent oil spills in the event of a collision.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) The International Maritime Organization, based in the United Nations, establishes international safety standards for shipping.
Thermal Radiation Zone Refers to the affected area whereby intense heat caused by an explosion and resulting fire would inflict severe damage on people and infrastructure. Thermal radiation zones are discussed in the context of liquefied natural gas (LNG) explosions.
Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) Refers to the 6 mile wide traffic lane designated in the middle of the Strait of Hormuz. There are 3 separate lanes, one 2-mile lane for inbound traffic, one 2-mile lane for outbound traffic, and a 2-mile lane separating the two. This separation scheme was established in the late 1970s for the purposes of standardizing traffic moving in and out of the Persian Gulf.
Ultra Large Crude Carrier (ULCC) Ultra large crude carriers can carry in excess of 320,000 DWT of petroleum, or about 3 million barrels of crude oil. Also referred to as a "supertanker."
Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Very large crude carriers generally have a capacity of over 200,000 DWT of petroleum; or approximately 2-2.5 million barrels of oil. Also referred to as a "supertanker."
Wellhead The section, or "head", of the physical oil well infrastructure where petroleum or other hydrocarbons can be withdrawn.