“Clean on board”. This is a statement that the cargo is in perfect condition. Unfortunately, some Shippers ask for such an endorsement even though the cargo is not in perfect condition. Not only is this practice fraudulent, but it also makes the chances of defending a cargo claim virtually non-existent. There may be a particular problem where cargo is sold under a letter of credit. That documentary credit calls for “Clean on board bills of lading” and the banks will not negotiate the credit if it is claused in respect of cargo condition even though the cargo has already been loaded. Although all Bills of Lading are marked “weight, quality and quantity unknown” the Master should only sign a Bill of Lading for a quantity of cargo he genuinely believes to be on board using, if needs be, a draft survey for checking the shore weight. A Bill of Lading is a negotiable document. He who owns the Bill of Lading owns the cargo mentioned on it. At the end of the voyage the Master must only deliver the cargo to its proper owner who should surrender the Bill of Lading in return for the goods. If no Bill of Lading is available the Master should take very good care that he does not release the cargo to the wrong person. If he does he becomes liable for the full value of the goods to their owner. To safeguard himself the Master must insist, in the event of the non-availability of the Bill of Lading, that the Receiver signs a letter of indemnity, which must be counter-signed by a Bank. Following the completion of loading the following will be drawn up and issued in addition to the Bill of Lading: Cargo Manifest – a list of all the cargo on board giving Bill of Lading number, the name of the Shipper and the port of loading/discharge. Stowage plan – a plan of the ship showing where all the cargo is stowed.