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Broken stowage factor

Definition The term “broken stowage factor” refers to the percentage of wasted or unused space within a cargo hold or storage area when loading cargo or supplies for military operations. This occurs because of irregularly shaped or sized items, which prevent efficient stacking and utilization of the available space. The higher the broken stowage factor, […]


The term “broken stowage factor” refers to the percentage of wasted or unused space within a cargo hold or storage area when loading cargo or supplies for military operations. This occurs because of irregularly shaped or sized items, which prevent efficient stacking and utilization of the available space. The higher the broken stowage factor, the greater the amount of wasted space in the storage area.

Key Takeaways

  1. Broken stowage factor refers to the unused or lost space in a cargo hold or storage area due to irregular shapes and sizes of the items being stored.
  2. It is a critical factor in optimizing cargo space and efficient utilization of available storage, directly impacting the overall cost and effectiveness of military operations.
  3. Reducing the broken stowage factor can be achieved by proper planning, organization, and employing stacking techniques or software that take into account the specific dimensions and characteristics of the cargo items.


The Broken Stowage Factor (BSF) is an important term in military operations because it refers to the percentage of space in a ship, aircraft, or transport vehicle that is unused or underutilized due to the irregular shape or size of the cargo being transported.

Efficient use of space is crucial in military operations, as timely and optimal allocation of resources can greatly impact the success of a mission.

By understanding and analyzing the BSF, logistical planners can optimize the packing and transportation of cargo, thus ensuring maximum utilization of available space, improving resource allocation, and ultimately enhancing the effectiveness and agility of military forces.


The purpose of the broken stowage factor within military operations is to ensure efficient utilization and allocation of space within various transportation methods, such as cargo ships, aircraft, and land vehicles. This factor is a crucial element in the planning and execution of military logistical operations, as numerous resources, materials, and personnel often need to be quickly transported across vast distances.

By effectively managing the broken stowage factor, military logistic professionals can optimize the space utilization within a transport vessel or vehicle, preventing bottlenecks, reducing shipping costs, and ensuring the timely delivery of essential assets and provisions. Broken stowage factor serves as a valuable tool for calculating available space and optimizing cargo arrangements within different transport means.

Logisticians use this factor to determine the extra space needed to accommodate irregularly shaped cargo items that cannot be efficiently arranged in a compact manner. In practice, this means accounting for all the unused gaps, voids, and empty spaces that result from stowing irregular-shaped items.

The efficient management of these spaces ultimately streamlines transport processes, improves the deployment efficiency of military assets, and facilitates rapid response in various operational scenarios, thus contributing to overall mission success and readiness.

Examples of Broken stowage factor

Broken stowage factor (BSF) refers to the loss of available space while loading cargo, vehicles, and equipment onto vessels or transport vehicles due to irregular shapes, improper stacking or placement. In the context of military operations, BSF becomes a critical component in efficient loading and transportation planning. Here are three real-world examples involving the military:

Humvees on a Cargo Ship: When loading Humvees onto a cargo ship, the vehicles’ irregular shapes and sizes create gaps and voids in-between them. This results in less cargo being transported than the ship’s maximum capacity. The military needs to carefully plan and utilize the available space, taking into account the broken stowage factor, to ensure an efficient transportation operation.

Aircraft Cargo Transportation: Military cargo aircraft, such as the C-130 Hercules or the C-17 Globemaster III, are often tasked with transporting equipment and supplies to remote locations. The broken stowage factor comes into play when loading items like fuel drums, cargo pallets, and irregularly-shaped equipment. The available space in the aircraft needs to be maximized, accounting for any voids or empty spaces, to ensure the effective delivery of essential supplies and equipment.

Containerized Military Shelters: The military often utilizes containerized shelters for rapid deployment of operational assets. These shelters come in different shapes and sizes, housing communication equipment, workshops, and field hospitals. When loading these shelters on to transport platforms such as trucks, ships, or aircraft, they must account for broken stowage factors to ensure optimal space utilization and efficient transportation of these crucial units.

FAQ – Broken Stowage Factor

What is the Broken Stowage Factor?

The Broken Stowage Factor (BSF) refers to the percentage of unusable or wasted space in a cargo hold or container due to irregularities in the shape or size of the cargo itself or the packing arrangements. This factor is vital in maximizing the efficiency of cargo transport and minimizing the shipping cost.

Why is the Broken Stowage Factor important?

Determining the BSF is crucial for several reasons, including accurate freight calculations, space optimization, and shipping cost management. Shippers must consider the BSF in order to correctly plan their cargo stowage and avoid wastage of valuable storage space. Reducing the BSF can decrease shipping costs and improve overall transport efficiency.

How is the Broken Stowage Factor calculated?

The BSF is calculated by dividing the space unusable or wasted by the total cargo hold’s space, then multiplying it by 100, which gives the percentage of wasted space compared to the available space. When transporting a variety of cargo types or sizes, the BSF may differ significantly based on their arrangement in the cargo hold or container.

How can I minimize the Broken Stowage Factor?

To minimize the BSF, proper planning and stowage methods must be employed. Some steps include accurately estimating the available space, matching compatible cargo shapes and sizes, using dunnage or separating materials effectively, and arranging the cargo in a way that minimizes the unused space. Some companies may use specialized software to predict and manage stowage planning.

What is the standard Broken Stowage Factor?

There is no fixed “standard” BSF as it varies depending on the cargo type, size, and arrangement. However, shippers always strive to minimize the BSF to maximize efficiency and reduce shipping costs. In some cases, a BSF of 5-10% may be considered acceptable, but this can vary greatly based on the specifics of each shipment.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Marine Cargo Insurance
  • Freight Volume Optimization
  • Shipping Containers Utilization
  • Load Planning and Efficiency
  • Deadweight Tonnage Management

Sources for More Information

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