Contract of Carriage

The name ‘tramp’ does not in any way indicate shabbiness but refers to the manner in which such a ship trades where the market takes it.  Its cargo is usually all one commodity (although there may be different grades) generally a raw material, and there is normally only one shipper.  The contract of carriage will be a Charter party and this can be on a voyage basis when the charterer pays so much (freight) per ton of cargo for an agreed quantity (usually a full cargo) from A to B.  Alternatively, the contract can be a Time Charter when the ship charterer pays an agreed sum (hire) per day for the use of the ship for an agreed period which can be just a few weeks, or months, or years – even the whole life of the ship.  In either case the rate of freight or hire will be freely negotiated and its level will depend upon the strength or weakness of the shipping market at the time. Although in the past tramps tended to be mainly general purpose ships, the situation today is one of a high degree of specialisation as will be discussed in the following section. Bulk Carriers are the unsophisticated travelling boxes of the oceans.  They range in size from the smallest coaster of about 250 tons deadweight up to the largest ore carriers of more than 250,000 tons deadweight. Access to the generally unrestricted holds is by way of hatches of the largest size, commensurate with the vessel’s structural integrity, to allow for rapid loading and discharge of cargo.  They are primarily designed for the carriage of bulk cargoes, such as ores, grains, coal, fertilisers and so on, and consequently the holds are constructed to be “self-trimming”; that is, shaped in such a way that when loaded into the holds the cargo will trim itself evenly over the area of the hold without resorting to expensive manual labour to achieve this.