Port Charges

Theoretically, as the contract is with the owner, proper performance can be demanded but to set down in writing the difference between a first class service and one that is legally correct but not good enough is not easy; although that difference is difficult to describe it can be vital.  The only thing left to do is to appoint a supervisory agent to keep an eye on things with only the owners interests in mind.  It is, of course, important to ensure that whoever negotiated the fixture for the owner is aware of cases where conceding charterer’s agents is acting badly against the ship’s best interests. Regardless of how the agent is nominated, adequate instructions have to be given and the sooner contact is made, the better.  The first thing needed is an estimate of how much the call at that port will cost.  This is usually provided as a pro forma disbursement account.  Before the agent can provide this it will need details of the ship including Net and Gross tonnages (to calculate dues).  Additionally, the agent will need to know what the ship is going to be doing in that port with details of the shipper or consignee so that the agent can obtain some idea of the length of time the ship will be there.  Naturally, vital information such as who pays for the stevedoring has to be passed at this time. The agent’s pro forma will probably be divided into three main sections, Port charges, Cargo charges and Ship’s items. Port Charges will include such items as: Conservancy dues – the charge made by the authority who controls the river or total port area and will probably be based on the ship’s gross or nett tonnage. Dock dues – these are the charges made by the operator of the actual berth being used and may be based on the length of the ship, the tonnage, the time likely to be alongside or some permutation of these. Towage – the tug company may have a direct contract with the owners so advise the agent is this is so. Pilotage – this is compulsory in many places but if the ship is a regular caller at that port the master may have an exemption certificate.  Pilotage is often levied on the ship’s draft. Boatmen – principally these people are used for handling the lines for mooring and unmooring of the ship but boatmen will be used more extensively if the ship is not alongside a jetty all the time she is in port.