Whilst with liners it is normal for the agent to sign bills of lading on behalf of the Master, under charter parties the Master himself will generally have the B/Ls presented to him for signature. On occasions he will be pressured to do something unorthodox at a time when trying to discuss this with the managers back home could only cause serious delay. He has to be wise enough to assess the risk and either sign or wait for instructions. Of course in emergencies, there may be no time to consult anyone and major decisions such as signing Lloyds Open Form of Salvage Agreement often still rests with the Master alone. It was argued a few years ago that an incident causing much of the catastrophic pollution of the Brittany coast might have been avoided if the Master of a grounded tanker had not wasted time discussing with his owners what he should do instead of letting a tug commence salvage work straight away. Although the Master, as with everything else, is ultimately responsible some duties are delegated to other officers on board. Typically, stowage of the cargo is the First Officer’s duty (also known as First Mate or Chief Officer). Proper stowage, even of bulk cargoes, is of vital importance. Decisions have to be made about the amount to go into each compartment so as to ensure that the ship is properly trimmed fore and aft and athwartships. It is even important to calculate the order in which the holds are loaded and discharged so that undue strain is not placed on the structure of the ship during these procedures. Mates on ships carrying general cargo have to develop cargo stowage to an art-form. Consider the factors which have to be taken into account. Heavy goods need to be near the bottom of the ship to ensure stability and in any case heavy goods could crush more fragile pieces. Then care must be taken to ensure one type of cargo does not contaminate another as would be the case, for example, if a pungent smelling commodity was stowed near foodstuffs. In the case of dangerous goods, some substances are quite benign on their own but become lethal in the presence of certain other materials.