Voyage Contract

Contracts of Affreightment. These occur when a carrier – either a Shipowner or an Operator – contracts to carry a given quantity of cargo between named ports on agreed voyage chartering terms over several voyages. The carrier may thereafter employ his own vessel(s) or charter-in outside ships in order to fulfil contractual obligations. Unlike a consecutive voyage contract, the governing detail is the cargo and, in the unfortunate event of the owner’s intended ship sinking or being effectively eliminated from carrying, the owner is obliged to make other alternative arrangements to complete the contract. The advantage of such a contract to a Shipowner is that security of employment is obtained for his vessel(s) for the duration of the Contract of Affreightment, especially valuable if the Shipowner considers that freight rates are about to fall. For Operators in a similar freight market situation, the advantage is in the profits they hope to realise by taking advantage of being able to fix-in tonnage at lower freight rates than those they will receive from the Charterers. But the Charterers may also be able to obtain financial advantage in the event that market freight rates rise once they have committed Owner or Operator ‘locked-in’ to the Contract – always assuming that the Owner/Operator will keep their end of the deal and perform. But even if the market stays in ‘neutral’ or moves against the Charterer by freight rates falling, at the very least the Charterer has exchanged the unreliability of the daily market place, for freight rate stability, thereby enabling emphasis to be placed in the development and marketing of the commodities involved. Under a contract of affreightment, the covering document is basically a modified voyage charter party form, with each voyage ship being nominated in a booking form detailing dates and cargo quantity.