Port Agent

Notice of Readiness can be given orally, but usually a written form is used. It is an important function of a port agent to assist a ship’s Master in tendering notice of a ship’s arrival, and also to ensure that shippers/ receivers officially ‘accept’ the vessel’s notice of readiness, accomplished usually be signing and timing acceptance on the notice form, although many shippers/receivers or charterers’ nominated port agents, will ‘accept subject to charterparty terms and conditions’. Readiness: A ship must be physically capable of performing cargo-operations – e.g. at a loading port, holds must be cleaned and prepared for receiving cargo and, if the contract so specifies, holds must be inspected and declared suitable by an appropriate authority before notice of readiness will be accepted. Contractual Commitments: Contracts usually state that before laytime commences, a vessel must, (a) have been ‘entered’ at the local custom house and (b) be in ‘free pratique’ (given the go ahead to proceed by the port health authority). Congestion: In case cargo berths are occupied upon a vessel’s arrival, contracts usually specify that notices of readiness can be tendered from a ‘normal waiting place’, ‘whether in berth, or not’ (WIBON); ‘whether in free pratique, or not’ (WIFPON); and ‘whether custom’s cleared or not’ (WCCON). It is normal that time spent in eventual shifting from the waiting place to the first cargo berth will not count as laytime. Turn Time: This occurs at certain ports where ships wait their ‘turn’ to load/discharge. When waiting turn, laytime will not usually count. Sometimes ‘turn time’ is limited – say to ’48 hours’ – laytime commencing once this period has elapsed, or earlier if cargo operations begin within that period. Where no ‘turn time’ limit is specified, the risk of excessive delay is that for a shipowner. When markets are in their favour, some charterers attempt to impose ‘turn time’ conditions into a charterparty, even though there is no such custom for same at the ports involved – e.g. ’36 hours turn time both ends’.