Obligations of the Ship Master

Ship Master must follow the orders and directions of the charterers as regards the employment of the vessel. This obligation is not absolute but an obligation to exercise reasonable care and skill. The Master is not obliged to obey the charterers’ orders immediately but is entitled to a reasonable time to comply with them. What is a reasonable time will depend on the circumstances of a particular case. Ship Master is not obliged to obey the charterers’ orders:

(1) Where the charterers’ order exposes the safety of the vessel, crew or cargo. The Master remains responsible for the safety of the vessel, her crew and cargo. Thus if an order is given, compliance with which exposes the vessel to a risk which the owners have not agreed to bear, the Master is entitled to refuse to obey it. In some circumstances, for example a safe port case, the Master is under an obligation not to obey the order.

(2) where the charterers are not entitled under the terms of the charterparty to give such an order, for example, he is not obliged to obey an order to proceed to a port which is excluded under the terms of the charterparty; and

(3) to deliver cargo to a person not entitled to receive it.

Although the Master is under the orders and directions of the charterers, subject to any exceptions in the charterparty, the owners remain liable for any negligence on the part of the Master.