What Are Gross Tons?

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Terms of measurement can be confusing, considering different systems in different countries throughout the world. In some cases, such as with the word "ton," the same measurement term can be used to refer to several different measurements. A gross ton is one type of ton that has two distinct meanings. It can be used to refer to weight in general circumstances or to refer to 100 cubic feet of volume on a ship.

Gross Tons and Weight

  • When speaking of weight, a gross ton is the same as a long ton, also known as the British Imperial ton. This unit of measurement equals 2,240 pounds. This is not the weight Americans refer to when they use the word "ton." Rather than referring to the a gross or long ton, Americans are referring to the short ton, which is equal to 2,000 pounds. In addition, do not confuse a gross ton with a metric ton, or tonne, which is equal to 2204.623 pounds.

Gross Tons and Ship Volume

  • When speaking of ships, a gross ton is used to measure the interior volume of the entire vessel. You may also see the terms gross tonnage and gross register ton or tonnage in use. Before 1969, ship tonnage was measured by several systems that were not equal and confusion ensued, since port fees were charged based on ship tonnage. In 1969, international standard measurement terminology was adopted. Gross tonnage refers to the volume of every enclosed space on a ship, measured in gross tons; do not confuse gross with net tonnage, which refers only to the volume of the cargo area on a ship. Gross tonnage can be calculated differently based on the construction of the ship, which determines what counts as interior volume.

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