There are a number of documents that a ship is obliged to carry if it is to trade legitimately. The documents are issued by a number of bodies often on behalf of the ship’s flag state. Each time the ship calls to a port it will be necessary for the master, via the ship’s agent, to show the documents to appropriate authorities and if any of them are not in order the ship may be prevented from working. Documents issued by or on behalf of the flag state include the following: Ships Certificate of Registry – confirming that the ship is entitled to fly under the flag of the state which issued it. Usually a ship can only have one flag state but some nations allow ships on bareboat charters to be put on a bareboat registry for the period of the charter. Loadline Certificate – this certificate and its purpose have already been covered. Safety construction certificate – confirms that the ship has been constructed in accordance with the relevant sections of the SOLAS conventions. Safety Equipment certificate – confirms that the ship’s safety equipment (which includes navigational charts and publications) are in accordance with SOLAS requirements. Safety Radio certificate – again a SOLAS certificate confirming that the ship’s communications equipment is in accordance with relevant conventions. This certificate may well be of interest to potential charterers since it shows if the ship is allowed to sail worldwide or is restricted to certain areas because of the limitations of its communications equipment. There are four categories of equipment A1, A2, A3 and A4. A1 would allow the ship to trade only in certain coastal waters, A4 is world wide and A3 worldwide except arctic waters. A2 covers all other areas. If a ship has to voyage through a higher rated area than stated on its certificate to reach its destination, then it may not be suitable for the contract under consideration. Sometimes though the flag state will allow the voyage providing it receives sufficient notice.