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Stevedore vs. Longshoreman — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Fiza Rafique — Updated on March 25, 2024
Stevedores are workers who load and unload cargo in ports, specializing in the operation of loading equipment, whereas longshoremen also work on docks but might engage in a wider range of tasks beyond handling cargo.
Stevedore vs. Longshoreman — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Stevedore and Longshoreman


Key Differences

Stevedores play a crucial role in the logistics chain, focusing primarily on the loading and unloading of cargo from ships using heavy machinery. They are typically employed by shipping companies or terminal operators and are skilled in operating cranes, forklifts, and other equipment designed for moving heavy loads. On the other hand, longshoremen work on the docks and are involved in various aspects of dock work, which includes but is not limited to the handling of cargo. They might perform tasks such as securing ships to docks, handling cargo paperwork, and sometimes operating the same equipment as stevedores.
While stevedores are often specialized in handling cargo once it's within the boundaries of the ship, their expertise allows them to efficiently manage the spatial challenges of loading cargo to maximize stability and capacity. Conversely, longshoremen may deal with the cargo once it's off the ship, managing its movement to storage areas or onto transport for its next destination, showcasing a broader skill set that covers various aspects of port operations.
Stevedores typically receive training specific to the operation of loading equipment and the safe handling of different types of cargo, including hazardous materials. This specialized training ensures that cargo is handled safely and efficiently, minimizing the risk of accidents. Longshoremen, whereas, might receive a more varied training that covers a broader range of dockside operations, including safety protocols, rigging, and even basic equipment operation, reflecting the diverse nature of their work.
In terms of employment, stevedores might be more directly associated with the shipping lines or terminal operators, reflecting their specialized role in cargo handling. This direct association often means that their work is closely aligned with the shipping schedules and cargo handling needs of their employers. Longshoremen, on the other hand, might be employed by the port authority or through dockworkers' unions, which provides them with a broader range of job opportunities within the port environment, often including tasks beyond just cargo handling.
Although both stevedores and longshoremen are vital to the operations of ports and shipping, the distinction between their roles highlights the complexity and specialization within the field of maritime labor. Stevedores' focus on the technical aspects of cargo handling contrasts with the longshoremen's broader involvement in port operations, illustrating the collaborative effort required to move goods across the world's oceans.

Comparison Chart

Main Role

Specializes in loading and unloading cargo from ships.
Engaged in various dock tasks, including but not limited to handling cargo.

Equipment Operation

Primarily operates cranes, forklifts, and other loading equipment.
May operate similar equipment but also involved in other tasks like securing ships.


Receives specific training in the operation of loading equipment and cargo handling.
Receives broader training covering a range of dockside operations.


Often employed by shipping companies or terminal operators.
Typically employed by port authorities or through dockworkers' unions.

Work Scope

Focused on the efficient loading and unloading of ship cargo.
Covers a wider range of port operations beyond just cargo handling.

Compare with Definitions


Employees of shipping or terminal operators.
The stevedores at the port are employed by the leading shipping company.


Unionized workers often with diverse skills in dock operations.
The longshoreman's union negotiated better safety equipment for its members.


Handlers of various types of cargo, including hazardous materials.
Stevedores must follow strict safety protocols when handling dangerous goods.


Participants in various stages of the shipping process.
Longshoremen work closely with shipping companies to facilitate cargo movement.


A worker specialized in loading and unloading cargo on ships.
The stevedore expertly operated the crane to unload the containers from the ship.


Dockworkers involved in the loading, unloading, and securing of cargo.
The longshoreman ensured the cargo was properly secured before departure.


Professionals in port operations focused on cargo handling.
Stevedores are critical in ensuring that cargo is loaded securely and efficiently.


Workers performing a broad range of tasks at ports.
Longshoremen may also be responsible for checking cargo manifests.


Individuals trained in the use of heavy machinery for cargo movement.
As a stevedore, he spent hours in training for crane operation.


Vital figures in the maritime industry, ensuring smooth port operations.
Longshoremen are essential for the efficient running of ports worldwide.


A stevedore (), also called a longshoreman, a docker or a dockworker, is a waterfront manual laborer who is involved in loading and unloading ships, trucks, trains or airplanes. After the shipping container revolution of the 1960s, the number of dockworkers required declined by over 90%, and the term "stevedore" has increasingly come to mean a stevedoring firm that contracts with a port, shipowner, or charterer to load and unload a vessel.


A worker who loads and unloads ships at a dock.


One who is employed in the loading or unloading of ships.


(US) A man employed to load and unload ships.


To load or unload the cargo of (a ship) or to engage in the process of loading or unloading such a vessel.


One who makes a living along the shore by oyster-fishing, etc.


A dockworker involved in loading and unloading cargo, or in supervising such work.


One of a class of laborers employed about the wharves of a seaport, especially in loading and unloading vessels.


(transitive) To load or unload a ship's cargo.


A laborer who loads and unloads vessels in a port


One whose occupation is to load and unload vessels in port; one who stows a cargo in a hold.


A laborer who loads and unloads vessels in a port

Common Curiosities

Do longshoremen operate heavy machinery?

Yes, longshoremen may operate heavy machinery similar to stevedores, but their job also includes a variety of other tasks beyond equipment operation.

Are stevedores and longshoremen the same?

No, while both work in ports and handle cargo, stevedores are more specialized in loading and unloading ships, whereas longshoremen engage in a broader range of port tasks.

What kind of training does a stevedore receive?

Stevedores receive specialized training in operating loading equipment and handling different types of cargo, including safety protocols.

What is a stevedore?

A stevedore is a dockworker specialized in loading and unloading cargo from ships, often using specialized heavy machinery.

What does a longshoreman do?

A longshoreman is involved in various dockside tasks, including but not limited to the handling of cargo, securing ships, and managing cargo paperwork.

What equipment is commonly used by stevedores?

Stevedores commonly use cranes, forklifts, and other heavy machinery designed for loading and unloading cargo.

Do longshoremen need specific certifications?

Longshoremen may require certifications for equipment operation and safety protocols, depending on their specific job tasks.

What union represents longshoremen?

Longshoremen are typically represented by dockworkers' unions, which negotiate working conditions and pay on their behalf.

How are stevedores employed?

Stevedores are often employed by shipping companies or terminal operators, based on the specialized nature of their work.

Can a stevedore work as a longshoreman?

While the roles are distinct, the skills of a stevedore can be applicable to some longshoreman tasks, especially in cargo handling.

What's the difference in employment between stevedores and longshoremen?

Stevedores are typically employed by shipping or terminal operations, focusing on cargo handling, whereas longshoremen may have a broader range of employers, including port authorities.

Are stevedores and longshoremen involved in international trade?

Yes, both are integral to the global shipping industry, facilitating the movement of goods across international borders.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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