Stevedore Damage

Stevedore Damage

What is Stevedore?

A stevedore, also known as a longshoreman or dockworker, is a worker involved in loading and unloading cargo from ships at a port. These individuals may also be responsible for the packing and unpacking of cargo from shipping containers. The work of stevedores is crucial in the logistics chain, as they facilitate the movement of goods around the world. Stevedoring can be physically demanding and sometimes hazardous work due to the heavy loads and large machinery involved.

Stevedores often use a variety of heavy machinery and equipment to accomplish their tasks, including forklifts, cranes, and specialized container handling equipment. They may also work with a variety of cargo types, including bulk cargo (like grain, coal, or oil), break-bulk cargo (individual items, perhaps palletized or shrink-wrapped), and containerized cargo. The exact nature of a stevedore’s work can vary significantly depending on the specific type of cargo they’re working with.

Stevedores play an essential role in global trade. Ports are the hubs of international commerce, and the efficient loading and unloading of ships can have a significant impact on the speed and efficiency of the global supply chain. The work of a stevedore can also have a significant impact on the safety of the ship and its crew. Incorrectly loaded cargo can make a ship unstable or cause damage to the ship or the cargo itself.

While the traditional image of a stevedore might involve manual labor, the job has become increasingly mechanized and automated over time. However, it’s still a role that requires a good understanding of shipping protocols, safety standards, and equipment operation. Despite the advancements in technology, the stevedore’s role remains a vital part of the logistics and supply chain industry.


Why is it called a Stevedore?

The term “stevedore” originated from the Spanish word “estibador”, which means “a packer”. It was adopted into the English language in the late 18th century to describe a person employed at a dock to load and unload cargo from ships.

In the early days of sailing, loading and unloading cargo was a labor-intensive and skilled task. A stevedore had to be knowledgeable about the different types of cargo, how to handle them, and how to balance the weight of the cargo within the ship to ensure its stability. Over time, the term has come to refer to anyone involved in the handling of cargo at a dock or port, including operating cranes and other heavy machinery.

So, the term “stevedore” comes from the specific task they perform, originating from the Spanish language.


Stevedore Damage

How many classes of Stevedore Damage are there?

Stevedore damage can be classified, in a broad sense, into three distinct forms:

1- Stevedore Damage to Cargo
2- Stevedore Damage to Ship
3- Personal Injury

Whose servant is the Stevedore?

Stevedores are engaged to facilitate the loading and unloading of cargo from a ship. The accountability for their actions primarily rests upon the party who enlists their services, be it the cargo shipper, the ship’s proprietor, or the ship’s charterers.

Stevedore and NYPE 1946 Charterparty:

“… charterers are to load, stow and trim the cargo at their expense under the supervision of the Captain…”.

The case of Court Line v Canadian Transport Co Limited [1940] 67 Ll.L. Rep 161 established the principle that the charterers bear the obligation to oversee the arrangement of cargo loading and stowage. Lord Wright succinctly summarized the charterers’ responsibilities as follows:

“… under Clause 8 of this Charterparty the charterers are to load, stow and trim the cargo at their expense. I think these words necessarily import that the charterers take into their hands the business of loading and stowing the cargo. It must follow that they not only relieve the ship of the duty of loading and stowing, but as between themselves on the ship owners relieve them [the ship owners] of liability for bad stowage, except as qualified by the words “under the supervision of the Captain”… These words give the Master a right which I think he must in any case have, to supervise the operations of the charterers in loading and stowing… But I think this right is expressly stipulated not only for the sake of accuracy, but specifically as a limitation of the charterers’ rights to control the stowage. It follows that to the extent that the Master exercises supervision and limits the charterers’ control over the stowage charterers’ liability will be limited in a corresponding degree”.

Charterers stipulated in this particular Charterparty bear the responsibility for engaging stevedores to execute the stowage of the cargo and retain accountability for their conduct. The Ship Master assumes an overarching duty for the ship’s safety and possesses the prerogative to intervene if they deem the stowage arrangements for the cargo inadequate

Stevedore and NYPE 1993 Charterparty:

“Notwithstanding anything contained herein to the contrary, the Charterers shall pay for any and all damage to the ship caused by stevedores provided the Master has notified the Charterers and/or their agents in writing as soon as practical but not later than 48 hours after any damage is discovered. Such notice to specify the damage in detail and to invite charterers to appoint a surveyor to assess the extent of such damage.

(a) In case of any and all damage(s) effecting the ship’s seaworthiness and/or the safety of the crew and/or effecting the trading capability of the ship, the Charterers shall immediately arrange for repairs of such damage(s) at their expense and the Vessel is to remain onhire until such repairs are completed and if required passed by the Vessel’s Classification Society.

(b) Any and all damage(s) not described under point (a) above shall be repaired at the Charterers’ option, before or after redelivery concurrently with owners’ work. In such case no hire and/or expenses will be paid to the owners except and insofar as the time and/or the expenses required for the repairs for which the Charterers are responsible, exceed the time and/or expenses necessary to carry out the owners’ work”.

The NYPE 93 charterparty form explicitly includes provisions concerning stevedores and, specifically, any harm inflicted upon the ship by their actions.

The employment of charterers carries significant weight as it delineates the foremost liability between owners and charterers for any harm inflicted upon the ship and/or cargo by stevedores.

The stevedore company shall retain accountability for the deeds of the stevedores employed to load/unload cargo onto the ship. Nonetheless, the prospects of pursuing a stevedoring company in a foreign jurisdiction, with outcomes that are ambiguous, may frequently lack appeal. It is due to this rationale that owners frequently endeavor to seek redress from charterers for the liabilities/damage endured.


1- Stevedore Damage to Cargo

The allocation of liability for any harm incurred to the cargo aboard the ship shall hinge upon the contractual provisions governing transportation. It is advisable to refer to the Charterparty and/or Bills of Lading for further guidance.

Shipowners frequently assume the paramount obligation towards cargo recipients as stipulated by the bill of lading agreement. Nevertheless, compensations can be sought from charterers for any damages resulting from inadequacies in cargo placement, wherein charterers bear the responsibility for organizing the stowage, as per the provisions of the Charterparty.

Once more, employing the NYPE 1946 Charterparty in its original, unaltered state as an illustration, it is noteworthy that the charterers uphold their obligation for the loading and arrangement of the cargo, while the Master’s oversight is confined solely to ensuring the safety of the ship under their command. Nonetheless, should the Master intercede in the loading procedure and such intervention leads to harm befalling the cargo, the owners could potentially bear liability for said consequences.

The NYPE Charterparty form is frequently modified to stipulate that the loading of cargo shall occur under the watchful eye and accountability of the Master. Under such circumstances, the burden is shifted away from the charterers. Although the charterers will engage stevedores, it is the Master who bears the responsibility for the arrangement of the cargo, and any losses resulting from inadequate stowage shall be attributed to the owners (as evident in the “SHINJITSU MARU” 5 (1985) case).

2- Stevedore Damage to Ship

The damage inflicted upon a ship by stevedores may range from insignificant harm to its fixtures and fittings to truly astounding devastation, ultimately culminating in the complete annihilation of the ship (as exemplified by the “POLEMIS” 1921 case).

Regarding the harm inflicted upon cargo, the onus of bearing the expenses incurred in repairing the ship shall hinge upon the conditions governing the employment of stevedores.

Under the provisions of a Time Charterparty, stevedores are typically engaged by the charterers, who bear the ultimate responsibility for any harm inflicted upon the ship. Nonetheless, Charterparties frequently stipulate that notification of damages must be promptly provided, and diligent attempts should be undertaken to seek restitution directly from the stevedores. Moreover, challenges may arise when seeking compensation for any time lost due to the necessity of conducting repairs subsequent to the ship’s return in an unrepaired state.

Lucid and meticulously crafted provisions within the Charterparty, delineating the allocation of responsibilities between owners and charterers, hold paramount significance. Within the unaltered structure of the NYPE 93 Charterparty, Clause 35 presents an uncomplicated means for owners to seek recompense from charterers pertaining to damages caused by stevedores. The utmost imperative lies in the adherence to the stipulated notice provisions. Non-compliance, under numerous circumstances, shall impede the pursuit of a claim.

Regarding the lucidity of drafting Charterparty clauses, herein lie the provisions encompassed within a singular Charterparty concerning stevedore impairment and, specifically, the designated timeframe for restoration. The Charterparty, in this instance, adhered to the NYPE 1946 form, wherein Clause 8 was duly modified to stipulate that “the charterers are responsible for the loading, stowing, securing/lashing/unlashing/tallying/discharging, and trimming of cargo, all at their own expense, under the watchful guidance of the Captain.”

“Charterers are not to be liable for any wear/tear damage to the ship and/or gear unless same caused by stevedore is reported by the Master in writing (on damage report forms supplied by charterers) to the charterers’ agent at the port where such damage occurs within 24 hours or before leaving port whichever is earlier. However, any damage not apparent at the time of occurrence prior leaving port to be reported to charterers immediately when noticed but not later than upon completion of discharge of the cargo of the current voyage, otherwise owners to forfeit their rights to any compensation, repairs for the charterers’ account insofar as possible to be effected during and after the currency of the Charterparty, unless repairs are immediately essential because damage affects Classification or ship’s seaworthiness and/or cargo worthiness”.

The challenge associated with the aforementioned Charterparty clause lies in its imposition of highly stringent temporal constraints for the notification of cargo damage, specifically stipulating that such notification must occur no later than the culmination of cargo discharge. Furthermore, this clause presents ambiguous provisions concerning the execution of reparations.

3- Personal Injury

The shipowner bears a responsibility to exercise vigilance towards all individuals who step foot on his ship. This obligation of care is entrenched in the realm of common law, specifically within the tort of negligence. Additionally, there exist statutory regulations that enforce duties upon the owner to guarantee the well-being of the personnel present aboard the ship. These statutory provisions encompass the facilitation of secure entry onto the ship, the provision of secure pathways for navigation throughout the ship, and the availability of secure equipment for employment during cargo operations, among other obligations.

Shipowners should diligently ascertain that their ship is in complete adherence to the regulations set forth by the Classification Society, ensuring the proper designation, rigorous testing, and proficient operation of all equipment provided for utilization by stevedores.

The ship owner’s negligence in ensuring the safety of equipment aboard the ship, leading to harm inflicted upon individuals like a stevedore, can give rise to significant legal claims, particularly in jurisdictions like the United States.



  • Accurate documentation of stevedore-inflicted harm should be diligently recorded, and prompt notification ought to be conveyed to the charterers. In the event of any uncertainty, the ship’s crew is advised to reach out to their local P&I representatives in order to solicit the necessary aid.
  • The responsibility for any harm or loss resulting from stevedores’ actions will be determined by the contractual terms of their agreement. Under specific circumstances, charterers may provide indemnities.
  • Promptly adhere to the designated timeframes for reporting stevedore-induced ship damage and/or filing protests pertaining to cargo affected by stevedore-induced harm, in strict compliance with the provisions set forth in the Charterparty.
  • The paramount element in the defense or prosecution of any assertion lies in the expeditious accumulation of evidence. “The Mariner’s Role in Collecting Evidence” serves as a compendium present on numerous ships, delineating the fundamental prerequisites for the data indispensable to aid lawyers in effectively safeguarding the owners’ stance. It is imperative that the Captain be motivated to raise objections regarding subpar stevedoring proficiency, striving to procure photographic evidence whenever feasible and duly recording log entries pertaining to any extraordinary occurrences.


Stevedore Damage Clause

Clause on Stevedore Damages: Within a voyage charter, the stevedores may be designated and remunerated by the charterer. The charterer assumes the responsibility and liability for any harm inflicted upon the ship. However, this accountability and liability come into effect only after the captain adheres to a prescribed procedure known as the “Stevedore Damage Clause.” The influence of such a provision can vary, ranging from making the charterer accountable in all scenarios to absolving them of any liability if an exceptionally rigorous (and, perhaps, unattainable) procedure is not followed. Additionally, the extent of liability can be stated, which may differ significantly depending on the charterer’s bargaining power during the fixture negotiations. An instance of a Stevedore Damage Clause is outlined in the MULTIFORM voyage charter party:

“Any harm caused to the ship by the stevedores shall be the financial responsibility of the charterers, subject to the subsequent conditions: At the time of the incident, the captain is required to promptly inform the charterers via telecommunication of the specifics concerning the stevedore damage, provided that the damage can be discovered through the exercise of due diligence. In case the damage is not readily discernible, notification must be given upon its discovery, but in no circumstances later than the completion of cargo discharge. Failure to comply with these requirements shall be construed as a waiver of any potential claim.

Furthermore, in the event of visible damage manifesting instantly, the captain must formally notify the stevedores in writing, holding them accountable, and endeavor to obtain their acknowledgement of liability.”

The Charterers shall be responsible for rectifying any harm inflicted by the stevedores that impairs the seaworthiness of the ship. Such repairs shall be carried out at their own expense in the port where the damage occurred. Compensation for damage not affecting the ship’s seaworthiness shall be borne by the Charterers once it has been effectively repaired. However, no remuneration shall be given for the duration spent on such repairs.

This clause aims to provide a certain level of protection to the Charterer by exempting them from liability for damages that were not evidently caused by the stevedores during the specific voyage charter. Its purpose is to prevent the owner from making a claim against the Charterer for damage that occurred prior to the charter period.

Although the clause mandates the master to make efforts to obtain the stevedores’ acknowledgement of liability for the damage, in practice, this rarely happens. If the clause does not explicitly state that the master must “endeavor” or “attempt” to secure the stevedores’ admission of responsibility for the ship damage, the Charterer’s liability only comes into effect if the stevedores actually accept blame for the damage.

For instance, in a time charter, as outlined in the New York Produce Exchange form, the “Employment clause” requires the master to “supervise” the cargo handling, primarily for safety purposes. Consequently, if the stevedores cause damage to the ship during cargo handling operations and the supervision is found to be inadequate, the charterer’s liability for the damage may be reduced or even waived.

In a specific case involving a time charter, The Argonaut, in 1985, the stevedores’ unsafe working practices resulted in damage to the ship’s tank tops (the bottoms of the cargo holds) at two discharge ports. The Employment clause in the charterparty had been amended to include the term “and responsibility” after the word “supervision” (“…Charterers are to load, stow and trim the cargo at their expense under the supervision and responsibility of the Captain…”). The court determined that the addition of these words transferred liability from the Charterer to the owner for all operations covered by the Employment clause if there was no intervention from the charterer. This encompassed the responsibility for damage caused to the ship by the stevedores’ improper working practices.

A Stevedore damage clause can be appended to a New York Produce Exchange form as a “Rider clause.” This practice is followed in ASBATIME, and the clause bears striking resemblance to the one found in MULTIFORM.


Which cargo damage is done due to mishandling of Stevedores?

Stevedores, also known as longshoremen, dockworkers, or dockers, are responsible for the loading and unloading of ships in port. Mishandling of cargo by stevedores can cause various types of damage to the cargo, including but not limited to:

  1. Physical Damage: This is the most common type of damage. It can range from minor scratches and dents to major destruction. Mishandling can cause crushing, tearing, breaking, and other types of physical damage to the goods. This is particularly true for delicate or fragile items.
  2. Water Damage: If the cargo is not properly protected during loading or unloading in wet conditions, it can suffer from water damage. This is particularly important for cargo that is sensitive to moisture, like electronics, paper goods, or certain types of food products.
  3. Temperature Damage: Certain types of cargo, such as perishable food, medicines, and certain chemicals, need to be maintained within a specific temperature range. If stevedores do not handle these types of cargo properly, it could lead to spoilage or degradation.
  4. Contamination: Improper handling can lead to contamination of cargo. This could happen if cargo is improperly placed on dirty surfaces, or if it’s stored in close proximity to hazardous or contaminating substances.
  5. Loss or Misplacement: Mishandling could also mean that cargo is not properly accounted for, leading to loss or misplacement. This could happen if cargo is not properly labeled and tracked during the loading and unloading process.
  6. Delayed Delivery: Mishandling can also lead to delays in the loading and unloading process, which can in turn cause delays in delivery. This might not physically damage the goods, but it can still have financial consequences, especially if the cargo is time-sensitive.
  7. Overloading: If stevedores do not follow the cargo plan and overload a certain area of the ship, it can cause stability issues which can lead to damage or even loss of the entire ship and cargo.

In order to minimize these risks, it’s important for stevedores to be well-trained in proper cargo handling techniques and for shipping companies to have robust procedures and checks in place.



What are Stevedoring Services?

Stevedoring services refer to the process of loading and unloading cargo onto ships, which is typically performed by stevedores, also known as longshoremen or dock workers. This job entails a range of activities including the handling, stacking, and transporting of goods or cargo at ports and harbors.

The exact tasks can vary based on the type of cargo. For example, for container ships, stevedoring services might involve using large cranes to move shipping containers from the ship to the dock, and then to a truck or train. For bulk cargo like grain or coal, it might involve operating conveyors or pumps.

Stevedoring services also often involve more than just physically moving the cargo. They can include tallying and checking cargo against shipping manifests, securing cargo for transport to prevent damage, and sometimes even packing or unpacking the cargo. It’s a critical part of the supply chain, as efficient and careful handling of cargo can reduce costs and prevent loss or damage.

Stevedore’s Duties

Here are some of the typical duties of a stevedore:

  1. Loading and Unloading: The primary duty of a stevedore is to load and unload cargo from ships. This involves moving goods from the storage area to the ship using cranes, forklifts, and other types of heavy machinery.
  2. Stowage Planning: Stevedores often play a significant role in stowage planning, which involves deciding where and how to store cargo on a ship to maintain balance and ensure safety during the voyage.
  3. Cargo Handling: Stevedores handle all types of cargo, including containers, bulk commodities, and break-bulk goods. They must follow specific procedures to handle each type of cargo safely and efficiently.
  4. Safety Procedures: Stevedores are responsible for following safety procedures to prevent accidents. This includes wearing protective equipment, securing cargo properly, and following guidelines for operating machinery.
  5. Equipment Maintenance: Stevedores often have responsibilities for maintaining the equipment they use, such as cranes and forklifts. This can involve cleaning, performing basic repairs, and reporting any significant problems to a supervisor.
  6. Paperwork: Stevedores may need to complete paperwork related to the cargo they handle. This can include keeping records of what has been loaded or unloaded, documenting any damage to cargo, and filling out safety reports.
  7. Communication: Communication is a crucial part of a stevedore’s job. They often work in teams and need to coordinate their activities to load and unload ships efficiently. They may also need to communicate with ship crew members, truck drivers, and other logistics personnel.
  8. Inspections: Part of a stevedore’s duties can include inspecting cargo for damage, checking that it matches the cargo manifest, and ensuring it’s properly secured for transport.
  9. Training: Experienced stevedores may also train new workers on safety procedures, equipment operation, and other aspects of the job.
  10. Compliance: Stevedores must adhere to international and local regulations regarding cargo handling and transportation. This can include following environmental guidelines, ensuring the security of the cargo, and adhering to labor laws and regulations.

The exact duties of a stevedore can vary depending on the specific job and location. However, all stevedores play a crucial role in global trade by ensuring that cargo is safely and efficiently moved from one place to another.



BIMCO Stevedore Damage Clause for Time Charter Parties 2008

(a) The Charterers shall be responsible for damage (fair wear and tear excepted) to any part of the Vessel caused by Stevedores. The Charterers shall be liable for all costs for repairing such damage and for any time lost.

(b) The Master or the Owners shall notify the Charterers or their agents and the Stevedores of any damage as soon as reasonably possible, failing which the Charterers shall not be responsible.

(c) Stevedore damage affecting seaworthiness shall be repaired without any delay before the Vessel sails from the port where such damage was caused or discovered. Stevedore damage affecting the Vessel’s trading capabilities shall be repaired prior to redelivery, failing which the Charterers shall be liable for resulting losses. All other damage which is not repaired prior to redelivery shall be repaired by the Owners and settled by the Charterers on receipt of Owners’ supported invoice.

We kindly suggest that you visit the web page of BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council) to learn more about Stevedore Damage Clause and to obtain the original Charter Party forms and documents.