Taking the Delivery and Ship Inspections
Inspections come in many forms at all ports that the vessel calls at within a voyage. The vessel will need to clear customs, be declared free of infectious diseases (in free pratique), perhaps at certain tanker terminals, be inspected superficially by the terminal operator and be ready to load or discharge.
The shipowner will, through the port agent, ensure that all the formalities are carried out in a timely fashion but the charterer should not assume that they have no part to play in these because there are occasions when the opposite is true for example consider the following. In many trades, frequently where the intended cargo has chemical specification with small tolerance (e.g. sulphur, non ferrous concentrates, grain, liquid chemicals) the cleanliness of the cargo holds or tanks prior to loading will be of great concern to the charterer.
Such things as residues of previous cargoes, rust deposits from the ship’s structure and in some cases the water tightness of the hatch covers may have caused problems with the specification of the cargo in the past and lead to the charterer appointing an inspector to carry out a survey of each vessel prior to loading.
The important points are that the inspection be carried out without delaying the vessel, it is usually the charterers responsibility to appoint the inspector and where a valid notice of readiness may only be tendered on passing that inspection the shipowner will be conscious of any ‘artificial’ delays to the carrying out of the inspection and a dispute could arise. What action will be taken if the holds are not, initially, passed for loading?
Some additional clauses state that’ … time from failing the first inspection until the holds are passed will not count as laytime.’ This would imply that all time prior to the first inspection will count as laytime and may not be the intended consequence of the addition.
In general it is the owners responsibility to ensure that the vessel is suitable for and ready to load the intended cargo but charterers must be careful to ensure that their own action, or indeed lack of action, does contribute to a delay and subsequently lead to a dispute.