Bulk Carrier Guide Online
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Bulk carrier business & trade patterns

Bulk carrier voyages are fixed according to market demands. While there is a steady flow of bulk cargoes from exporting countries to the industrial nations, floods, droughts or other natural disasters may affect a region's crop output, changing commodity prices. The trades may, to some extent, be fixed with the vessel on a liner service, but when the trade is generated on an `on demand' or spot basis, a ship will generally not know its next `fixture' until it receives its voyage orders.

Over 6,000 bulk carriers are engaged in the trade of bulk cargoes, such as ores, logs, coal and steel products.

Parties in the bulk trade include:

Typically, a shipowner may allow his ship to be chartered to a charterer (who in turn may sub-charter it). They then find a shipper who loads their cargo on the ship. The cargo's sale has either been previously agreed with a buyer or, in some cases, may be sold after it has been loaded. The ship carries the cargo to the destination and discharges to the receiver. At the loading and discharging ports the ship, charterer, seller and buyer may nominate agents.

Voyage agreement

To engage a ship to load a cargo, a contract of affreightment, setting out the terms and conditions for the payment to the shipowner in return for provision of the ship, has to be agreed between the shipowner and the cargo owner. This agreement can be either a bill of lading (between the carrier, ie the shipowner or charterer, and the cargo owner) or a charterparty (between the shipowner and charterer).

A charterparty is a written agreement (usually in a specified format) between the shipowner and the charterer for hire of a vessel with clearly defined freight rates, cargoes and loading/discharging ports.

A copy of the charter party applicable to your vessel will be put on board as soon as possible, either by the Managers, Owners, Charterers or their agents and you are requested to confirm receipt of this. If it is not immediately available, all the necessary information will be sent to you in brief by telex or telefax to enable you to commence your voyage. If you require clarification or advice on any aspect of the charter party you must contact the relevant Management Office.

The Master is responsible for ensuring that the vessel performs as described in the charter party at all times. If there is any inability to comply with any requirements under the charter party, the Company will advise the Owners and enter into discussions with the charterers. Similarly, the Master must ensure that any instruction or requests from the charterers come within the requirements of the vessel, Master and crew as defined in the charter party, otherwise advice must be obtained from the Company before complying with such instructions or requests.

Bills of lading

A bill of lading (B/L) is a document, agreed under the auspices of the Hague or Hague-Visby rules, issued on behalf of the shipowner that provides evidence that the cargo has been received for shipment . A B/L may be issued in addition to the charterparty agreement.

If charterers require cargo to be discharged at ports other than those stated on the Bills of Lading, or if they require cargo to be discharged without production of original Bills of Lading, you must inform the relevant Management Office immediately. The Company will obtain a Letter of Indemnity from the charterers and will instruct the Master on what action to take.

Permission to change destination to discharge port other than that stated on the Bills of Lading and permission to discharge cargo without production of original Bills of Lading can only come from Owners or Managers. The Master must not accept any Letters of Indemnity, Letters of Credit or Letters of Guarantee; these will only be accepted by the Owners or Managers and you will be advised accordingly.

When the Master signs the B/L, the Master does so, not on behalf of the Charterers or Shippers, but on behalf of the Owners. The B/L is an Owner’s document, and it is the Master’s responsibility to ensure, to the best of his ability, that it is properly prepared and signed. This applies whether the ship is employed on a Voyage or Time Charter.

The Charterers / Shippers cannot require the ship to agree to issue of Bills of lading with a description of the cargo which is not in accordance with the cargo actually loaded. Furthermore, we have to point out that situations like this give rise to potential prejudice of the Owner,s P&I Cover, because the Club rules state that a claim arising from a bill of lading being issued, with the knowledge of the Owner or Master, with an incorrect description of the cargo, quantity or its condition, can only be paid at the discretion of the P&I Club Directors.

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Related information

  1. Required cargo documents for seagoing bulk carriers

  2. Difference between voyage charter and time charter agreements

  3. Bulk carrier voyage agreement - Function of bill of lading

  4. Signing a bill of lading & relevant guideline

Our detail pages illustrated many safety aspects of Bulk carrier

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Operation of sea going bulk carriers involved numerous hazards . Careful planning and exercising due caution for all critical shipboard matters are important . This site is a quick reference to international shipping community with guidance and information on the loading and discharging of modern bulk carriers so as to remain within the limitations as specified by the classification society.
It is vital to reduce the likelihood of over-stressing the ship's structure and also complying with all essential safety measures for a safe passage at sea. Our detail pages contain various bulk carrier related topics that might be useful for people working on board and those who working ashore in the terminal. For any remarks please Contact us

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