Once laytime has commenced, then the cargo handling operations can continue until completion. There are instances however, in which laytime may be interrupted, and these may be provided for in the charter party. For example, a possible event that may occur and may interrupt laytime is the breakdown of cargo handling equipment. If the vessel is using its own gear for cargo operations and it breaks down, then laytime does not count during the period of breakdown. If shore-based equipment is used, then the charter party may specify that time lost because of equipment breakdown that was beyond the charterer’s control will not count as laytime. Other events that are provided for in charter parties include:
1. Adverse weather: Laytime will not count when cargo operations are disrupted by bad weather, which usually includes swelling of the sea and large waves. For this reason, clauses in the charter party indicate that laytime will count during “weather working days” or “days weather permitting.” Periods that are interrupt- ed due to weather are deducted from the calculation of laytime. Time lost when a vessel is waiting to berth during bad weather that would have resulted in the interruption of cargo operations even if the ship was already berthed does not count.
2. Weekends and holidays: If the contract specifies a clause such as SHEX (Sundays and holidays excluded from the calculation of laytime) then laytime is interrupted during the period. If cargo work is performed during the excepted period, laytime will not normally count, unless the contract allows it to-it might say, “time not to count during weekends, unless used,” or SHEXUU (Sundays and holidays excepted unless used). Alternatively it may state that Sundays and holidays do not count even if used (SHEXEIU), or that Sundays and holidays are included in the calculation of laytime (SHINC). Because Sunday is a Christian holiday, in Islamic countries it is substituted by Friday and in Israel by Saturday.
3. Shifting between berths: If a vessel is waiting at anchorage and then sails into port, the time spent in shifting from anchorage to berth will not count as laytime. However, if the ship must shift from one berth to another in order to continue loading/ discharging operations, the shifting time involved will normally count as laytime. If shifting is not requested by the charterers but becomes necessary by order of the harbormaster or other port authority, then it counts as laytime. If the charter party nominates more than one port or multiple berths where the vessel will proceed for cargo operations, then time lost will not count as laytime and the costs are borne by the owners.
4. Strikes: There is nearly always a clause in a contract to the effect that delays due to shore strikes are not to count as laytime. However, such delays may count if the charterer agrees and pays half demurrage for time lost due to the strike and the consequent delay exceeding laytime.
The safe berthing/shifting clause of ASBATANKVOY illustrates the above items:
The vessel shall load and discharge at any safe place or wharf, or alongside vessels or lighters reachable on her arrival, which shall be designated and procured by the Charterer, provided the Vessel can proceed thereto, lie at, and depart therefrom always safely afloat, any lighterage being at the expense, risk and peril of the Charterer. The Charterer shall have the right of shifting the Vessel at ports of loading and/or discharge from one safe berth to another on payment of all towage and pilotage shifting to next berth, charges for running lines on arrival at and leaving that berth, additional agency charges and expense, customs overtime and fees, and any other extra port charges or port expenses incurred by reason of using more than one berth. Time consumed on account of shifting shall not count as used laytime.