Ship Discharging Responsibility

Laytime will run from the moment the vessel arrives at the port of discharge and is ready to unload. The respective obligations of shipowner and charterer are similar to those at the port of loading except for the fact that the operation is conducted in reverse. Discharge is a joint operation, the shipowner being responsible for moving the cargo from the hold to the ship’s side and the consignee for taking it from alongside. Where lighters are required for receiving the cargo alongside, the cost will normally fall on the charterer. This division of responsibility may of course be modified by the custom of the port or by express provision in the charterparty. Thus it may be agreed that the shipowner will be responsible for the cost of discharging, in which case he will have to bear such incidental expenses as the cost of any necessary rebagging of the cargo. Alternatively, the charter may provide that discharge is ‘to be free of expense to vessel’, with the result that the charterer will be liable for stevedoring costs. The discharging operation must, of course, be completed within the specified lay days, otherwise the charterer will incur the same liability for demurrage or damages for detention as if a similar delay had occurred during the loading operation.