Ship Lightening

Sometimes all or part of a ship’s cargo will have to be discharged offshore into lighters or other ship / craft, because of congestion and/or lack of water alongside the berth, and for certain ports, this is quite normal and customary (eg: Chittagong in Bangladesh). Lightening, in practice however, calls for quite a complicated contractual clause covering the rights, risks, and responsibilities of those involved in the operation a clause which must be taken seriously as lightening can be a hazardous undertaking.
Certain standard charter parties employ special wording. These clauses are being liable to modification by negotiation and none cover all points likely to arise during negotiations. Aspects to bear in mind when negotiating a lightening clause include:

  • Safe & Customary location
  • Lay time during lightening
  • Cessation or delays to lightening owing to 1- adverse weather and 2- strong swell
  • Cost of lightening
  • Hire of lightening craft and labour
  • Quantity of cargo to be lightened and/or draft to be reached
  • Risk of damage to 1-discharging vessel and 2- lightening craft
  • Extra Hull Insurance (if any) to cover lightening operation
  • Supply of fenders – type, and approval of master
  • Seaworthy trim for move from lightening position to discharge berth