Ports of Call

Charterers take longer to effect the cargo operations then the Shipowner receives liquidated damages in the form of demurrage at a negotiated sum per day.  The owners will seek to have a daily rate of demurrage somewhat greater than the daily running cost of their ship to reflect the ‘damages’ concept.  When the opposite happens and the charterers complete the cargo operations in a shorter time than allowed for by the laytime then, in most dry-cargo charters, they receive a ‘reward’ in the form of despatch at an agreed sum which is usually half the demurrage rate for every day ‘saved’ or pro rata.  Despatch is seldom, if ever, included in tanker charters. Many disputes arise between owners and charterers in calculating the laytime used and thus the amount of demurrage or despatch payable. These disputes can start with the first arrival of the vessel, that is the point when it is an ‘arrived ship’ but may continue throughout the cargo working because of delays from weather, holidays, breakdowns etc. The clauses in the charter party relating to laytime must be as unambiguous as possible – simple English saying what is meant. The agents at loading and discharging ports must be clearly briefed about tendering Notice of Readiness (NOR)and be instructed to confirm to the managers as soon as they have done so in order that the ship manager can monitor this vital element in the time counting scenario. The NOR must always be in writing. The charter party will spell out what the vessel will have to do before she can be an ‘arrived ship’. There may be a requirement  regarding the ships’ geographic position within the port or at the berth and where the latter are not available that the ship is in the ‘nearest place that she can safely get’. In some charters, such as for grain, a stringent level of cleanliness will be necessary before the ship can claim to be ready to load. Until these requirements are satisfied the charterers will refuse to accept the NOR.