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Documents for ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk

Transportation of chemicals by tankers is usually accompanied by considerable documentation. Documentation can be even greater when trading to and from less developed countries. The vessel’s management is presented with a great deal of documentation from parties to the cargo, authorities, etc. Furthermore vessel’s management must also issues papers serving to record evidence, claims etc.

chemical tanker navigation at sea
Following are most needed documents for ships carrying dangerous substances in bulk

Documents required against cargo loss or damage

It is important to remember that the most fundamental principle underlying the carriage of goods by sea is that the carrier is entrusted with another person's property to transport it from one place to another. Therefore, if that person's property is lost or damaged in transit the carrier will have to account for that loss or damage.

In a claim for cargo loss or damage, the documents listed below should be assembled whenever possible and numbered in consecutive order. They should then be referred to in the Master's report .

It is recognised that in certain instances these documents will be more easily available from the ship-owner's office, but if they are available on the vessel and attached to the report they will be of great assistance in limiting the amount of commentary which has to be included in the report. The documents are as follows:
  1. A convenient plan of the vessel which includes a description of the distribution of hatches and holds, the position of the vessel's equipment, the distribution of double bottom tanks, wing tanks and peak tanks and capacities;
  2. Vessel's tonnage certificate;
  3. Class certificates including recommendations, reservations, and conditions of class at the time of the loss or incident;
  4. Crew list;
  5. Reports of the Master or deck or engineer officers on regular inspection and maintenance of the vessel and her equipment;
  6. Standing orders for regular inspection and maintenance of vessel prior to sailing;
  7. Inspection, repair, and maintenance schedules;
  8. Inspection, repair, and maintenance logs;
  9. Repair and maintenance accounts;
  10. Mate's receipts;
  11. Bills of lading;
  12. Charter-party(-ies);
  13. Draft surveys with all accompanying calculations;
  14. Letters of protest;
  15. Deck log abstracts for the period of loaded voyage including loading and discharging operations and the period or voyage before loading if, during this time, heavy weather was encountered or hold cleaning was carried out;
  16. Ventilation records if not included in the deck log;
  17. Temperature records if not included I the deck log;
  18. Bilge sounding records if not included in the deck log;
  19. Engine logs for the same period;
  20. Statement of facts at load and discharge port;
  21. Time sheets at load and discharge port;
  22. Notice of readiness at load and discharge port;
  23. Tally sheets at load and discharge port;
  24. Cargo manifest;
  25. Stowage plan (for each port if cargo loaded at several load ports);
  26. Course recorder printout;
  27. Working chart (with the original markings) if the course or incidents of the voyage were unusual;
  28. Correspondence with charterers, shippers, agents, stevedores, supercargo, or any person or organisation involved in cargo handling operations;
  29. Copies of all cables or radio messages received by the vessel, in particular, demonstrating the weather encountered, contact with other vessels, and Ocean Routing (or similar) messages;
  30. Photographs demonstrating the condition of the vessel, weather encountered, methods of loading and discharging of the cargo, and stowage of cargo - These will greatly enhance owners' case in the event of disputes. In addition, a note should accompany the photographs identifying when they were taken, by whom, and what they purport to depict. The negatives should be carefully preserved;
  31. Videos - There is an increasing possibility that vessels will carry video equipment, and these can and should be used to identify obvious deficiencies in loading or discharging techniques, methods of stowage, or heavy weather encountered;
  32. Computer printouts - If the vessel has on board a computer capable of doing stability, draft, and trim calculations, the printouts or recorded disks should be preserved;

Cargo calculation & related documents
Cargo is bought and sold in various units of measurement. These may be Barrels (Bbls) at 60F, Cubic metres (M3) @ 15C, Metric Tonnes in Vacuum, Metric Tonnes in Air and Long tons in Air....
Modern Chemical tanker hellespont credo underway
Fig: Modern Chemical tanker hellespont credo underway

Avoiding cargo claims - Chemical tanker procedure
Liquid Cargoes are valuable, tradable commodities. Thus, the ownership of a particular parcel of Chemical cargo may keep changing. Temporary owners seek to protect the interest of their cargo. Hence the chance of a cargo claim against the ship owner is high. Some claims are discussed as follows - ..... ....

Notice of readiness (NOR)
A Notice of Readiness (NOR) must always be provided when a vessel arrives at the port of destination. Whether the berth is occupied or not, whether the vessel is alongside or not, on arrival at the port of destination the Master must present the NOR on the appropriate form........

Signing a Bill of lading & related problems
The B/L is presented to the Master by the Shipper or the Agent in the port of loading, usually three originals and one set of copies. The weight of the cargo loaded is determined by ship and shore figures. Usually the shore figures are used on the B/L....

Letters of protest
In order to ensure Owners claims against parties involved or to annul any claims against Owners the following protest are to be issued in the English language under certain conditions:............

The port state control inspection and ships preparation
Port State Control is the process by which a nation exercises authority over foreign ships when those ships are in waters subject to its jurisdiction. The right to do this is derived from both domestic and international law. .......

Statement of facts
On the ‘Statement of facts’ all relevant facts and times concerning loading / discharging are to be recorded. The statement is the basis for laytime counting and has to be signed by the Shipper’s - or Receiver’s representative (usually the Loading Master) the Master and the Agent. A complete signed ‘Statement of facts’ is effective evidence. It is important that the statement contains all conditions and events that have a positive influence on time counting...........

(“Rough”) Port / cargo log The “rough” or working cargo log must be kept by the officers on duty to document the loading and discharging operations. It serves to record data as a basis for the ‘Statement of Facts’ as well as all circumstances and events relevant to any dispute with the parties to the cargo. The rough cargo log is a very important document of proof in case of disagreements between the parties involved. The following entries are the minimum necessary:
  1. Pre-Transfer Meeting held & Checklists completed
  2. Hose connected
  3. Manifold valves opened / closed.
  4. Purging times
  5. Foot sample/line sample
  6. Loading/discharging times
  7. Loading/discharging pressures (every ½ hour)
  8. For heated cargoes; temperatures
  9. Inert Gas Operations / Blanketing times.
  10. Blanketing times
  11. Stoppages + reason
  12. Line blowing Operations
  13. Special circumstances and events
  14. Other relevant information.


Dry tank certificate
When the tanks are empty the surveyor will check the tank in question and issue a ‘Empty tank’ or ‘Dry Tank’ certificate. The issue of this certificate constitutes the commercial and legal termination of the obligations of the vessel to the contractual parties concerned.

Other documents
Depending on the loading and discharge port, the Shipper, surveyor, customs, authorities etc. provide various documents to be conveyed to the Receiver, to the Agent etc. in the port of discharge.
  1. Cargo quality certificate (analysis report)
  2. Cargo quantity certificate
  3. Certificate of origin
  4. Cleanliness report
  5. Heating instructions
  6. Inhibitor certificate
  7. Manifest
  8. Receipt of documents
  9. Ship’s experience factor
  10. Tank history
  11. Ullage report
  12. Sailing permit
  13. Sample receipt
  14. Custom papers

The papers destined for the Receivers are given to the Loading Master or agent in the port of discharge against receipt

Ships experience factor (SEF OR VEF)
Surveyors at a load port must always be given the information to calculate the Ship’s Experience Factor or Vessel Experience Factor.

Reference publications

  • Equipment Manufacturers Instruction Manuals
  • MARPOL – 73/78 (latest consolidated edition)
  • International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (ISGOTT)
  • CFR 33 parts 125 to 199
  • Ship to Ship Transfer Guide (Petroleum)
  • MSDS for particular cargo carried
  • Chemical Tank Cleaning Guide

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