Examples of tenders include mail tenders, which facilitate the sending and delivery of mail to and from slower oceangoing liners, and lighthouse tenders, which are used to service lighthouses with provisions and supplies. Tenders may be small inflatable boats or larger vessels capable of carrying several tons of freight.
The size of ships used to transport goods often increases faster than many ports can dredge harbors or install facilities to accommodate larger-sized vessels. In such cases, a tender brings passengers, crew, supplies and freight to and from the larger vessel.
Other examples of tenders include cruise ship tenders, the small boats that accompany cruise ships to ferry passengers when the ship anchors in a port but cannot dock, and yacht tenders, which are used in marinas at which dock space is reserved for smaller vessels and larger boats are anchored at moorings that require a dinghy or tender to access.
A tender may also refer to the railroad car directly behind a steam locomotive that carries coal, water or other supplies, or to a specialized piece of firefighting equipment that carries water to the scene of a fire.