Shipowners Voyage Responsibility

On completion of the loading operation, the responsibility for continued performance of the charterparty will be transferred to the shipowner. His obligation will be to proceed with reasonable dispatch and convey the cargo to the designated port of discharge. As freight once calculated has reference to the cargo carried rather than to the time expended on performance of the charter, it is in the shipowner’s interest to complete the voyage as speedily as possible, although he will be protected by the usual exceptions from liability for loss arising from delay due to factors beyond his control. While the shipowner will normally indicate to the consignee the estimated time of arrival at the discharging port, there will be no cancelling clause for this voyage since the cargo owner, for obvious reasons, will have little interest in cancelling the charterparty at this stage. The carrying voyage will terminate on the vessel having become an ‘arrived ship’ at the port of discharge and being ready to unload the cargo. These two requirements are identical with those outlined above with respect to the preliminary voyage and, once they have been fulfilled, laytime will begin to run at the risk of the charterer. Only one point calls for further comment. It will be remembered that where the charterer is given an express right to nominate a berth, the vessel will not become an ‘arrived ship’ until it reaches the specific berth nominated by him. In exercising this option, the charterer is under no obligation to consult the convenience of the shipowner and may even nominate a congested berth so long as the resultant delay is not so prolonged as to frustrate the object of the charter. In the absence of an express right to nominate, it would appear that the charterer is still entitled to select the berth, though in this case he must bear the risk of any delay resulting from his choice. English law does not, as we have noted earlier, require notice of readiness to unload to be given at the port of discharge. It is the responsibility of the consignee to keep a lookout for the arrival of the ship. In practice few problems result for the charterer, since modern standard forms invariably contain an express provision requiring the shipowner to give notice of readiness. Even at common law notice must be given in cases where the shipowner fails to reach the designated port but invokes the ‘so near thereto as she can safely get’ clause. Similarly, the charterer will not have to bear the risk of any resultant delay where his failure to learn of the vessel’s arrival is due to the fault of the shipowner.