Ship Waiting Time

Charter parties may be classified into port charter parties or berth charter parties. In a port charter party, the ship will be considered arrived when it has reached the fiscal and geographical limits of the port, and laytime will begin to count accordingly. In a berth charter party, laytime will not commence until the vessel has reached its designated berth. Obviously, shipowners prefer a port charter party as opposed to a berth charter party; hence, most charter parties are port charter parties. On this basis, any time lost from the moment the ship arrives at port until it reaches its designated berth will count against the charterer. The inclusion of the whether in berth or not (WIBON) clause in the charter party safeguards the interest of the shipowner and alleviates the risk of long waiting periods in busy or congested ports.
In The Finix (1975), Donaldson J. commented on berth and port charters as follows: “It is well settled that where the destination is a named berth or there is an express right to nominate a berth, the charter is a berth charter-party, i.e., the ship is not “arrived” before she reaches the berth. It is also well settled that where the destination is an area of wider extent, but there is an implied right in the charterer to nominate the berth or other discharging spot, the ship is “arrived” when she reaches the appropriate part of the wider area and not when she later reaches the discharging berth or spot. But there is a realm of uncertainty where the charter- party provides that discharge shall take place at, for example, (a) “One safe berth, London” or (b) “London, one safe berth.” The test is undoubtedly whether on the true construction of the charter-party, the destination is London or the berth. My own view is that in case (a) it is the berth and in case (b) it is London. In case a vessel reaches a port where it is obliged to wait for its turn before cargo operations can commence, then such time lost will not count as lay time. On other occasions, the charter party may specify that waiting time is limited to, say, forty-eight hours and laytime will commence after this period has elapsed or upon the commencement of cargo operations. In case a vessel reaches the agreed loading port within the laydays but before the canceling date (Le., within the laycan period), then the charterer is obliged to furnish a cargo for the ship to load. There is no such obligation if the ship arrives earlier than the laycan dates.