Shipping Containers: The Difference in Appearance and Condition

Shipping Containers: The Difference in Appearance and Condition

The good, the bad, the ugly: not all shipping containers are created equal. Some are ugly yet still do the job. Others are in pristine condition but you’ll pay top dollar. From one-trip containers to D grade, there are many levels of containers in terms of their appearance and condition.

New/One Trip

These containers have only been used once in international shipping, and were usually built within the last two years. These containers are in excellent condition. You will pay the most for this type but this is a good investment if you need a top-notch container that will be pulling double duty for you for many years.

Cargo Worthy

Cargo worthy storage containers have been inspected and feature a seaworthy certification. If you are planning to ship goods with your container, you’re best off buying a cargo worthy storage container, which has no differences (at least in terms of condition) than a wind and watertight (WWT) container (more on that below).

But this type has the added benefit of being inspected by maritime surveyors, approved for use shipping goods and products overseas. You will pay a few hundred bucks more for this type than WWT simply because of that approval.


This is the most functional and economical solution, and is generally the most affordable cargo box out there. WWT stands for Wind and Water Tight. They range in condition and are in abundant supply. They are used, which means they vary in color, may have some surface rust, and may be dented and dinged.

But they are more affordable because they don’t have to undergo inspection by a maritime surveyor. Sometimes, they can be inspected by an experienced shop personnel at your direction and can be repaired to ensure they are indeed wind and water tight.


As-is containers are sort of like homes being sold as-is – meaning you buy the home/container as it is right now, with no extra work being done on the part of the seller to spruce it up. You’ll likely be looking at some damage which occurred somewhere along the line in the shipping process, as well as structural problems or a lot of rust.

These containers are past the point of being considered WWT. As such, they are much cheaper to buy than cargo worthy or WWT storage containers, but you do have to contend with the damage. This may not matter to you depending on the intended usage, so you can save yourself quite a bit of money here.

Here at Transocean, we have our own system of “grading” our containers. Here’s a look at what each category means.

A Grade

These boxes are in excellent condition, with minimal, if any, rust, good condition doors and gaskets, no major dents, few patches in the roof, and floors in very good condition. Choose this if aesthetics are important to you or you plan to paint the container.

B Grade

With these, you will notice some rust spots but they are mostly superficial in nature – no more than six inches in diameter. You will get good condition doors and gaskets with little to no rust around seals or hinges. You may have to patch a couple of places in the roof or floor, but overall this is a good value as part of a good quality container. Great if you’re planning to use it for storage.

C Grade

Rust, while still superficial, is definitely noticeable yet not predominant. You could see rust spots greater than six inches in diameter. Doors may still function but you may see rust around gaskets, hinges or at the tops of doors. Multiple patches on the roof and floor are likely, with delamination of the flooring as well.

This is our most common and popular grade of shipping container. They’re kind of ugly, but still provide good structural stability.

D Grade

At this level, rust is structural and predominant. You may have a hard time opening or closing doors, and gaskets may be loosening. Severe rust could be accumulating around the seals, with loose floors and severe delamination. Sides often feature large dents or deflections in D grade containers, which can be 20 years old or older. A bit more ugly than the C grade, D grade containers are great for storing 4-wheelers and lawnmowers.

Not sure which grade or type you want? Just ask us!

Contact Transocean Equipment Management

As leaders in the shipping container industry, we can connect you with the most appropriate type of container for your needs and budget. Feel free to ask for a free quote when you contact us at 910-483-7828.




Comments are closed.