Power-line communication (PLC) based local area network (LAN) in cargo ships is one of the promising applications of the PLC technology. In this paper, the signal attenuation characteristic when transmitting with the differential-mode (DIF) and the common-mode (COM) has been modeled respectively to design the PLC network in a cargo ship. The characteristic has been analyzed from the measured transfer function of 440V power-line channels for reefer containers in two typical ships. The measured transfer function was averaged from 2M to 30MHz (or until the measurement limit frequency) and approximated by the number of branches and the length of a signal propagating route. The mean accuracy of the obtained approximation equations was ±4dB. The area where the signal attenuation of COM transmission is less than that of DIF transmission has been studied from the equations.