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Issuing letters of protest - Cargo related problems onboard chemical tankers

Cargo shortage dispute and operational delays if not timely reported to management ashore owners are liable to substantial claims. As a result of lack of notification, vessel’s P&I may not be informed in time and the local P&I Correspondent can not be arranged to attend the vessel in port.

In some cases where cargo dispute has been noted by the ship’s staff and shore authorities have not made a protest, it may be months before the Owner is alerted of the claim. Once such time has elapsed, it may be almost impossible for the Owners to mitigate losses. It is therefore imperative that if any cargo damage is discovered, or even suspected, the Master must advise the office who shall in turn take necessary steps to assist/ alert the Owners.

chemical tanker navigation at sea
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:

  1. Difference Protest
  2. Deadfreight Protest
  3. Temperature Protest
  4. Low loading or discharging Rate Protest
  5. Exceeding of maximum agreed quantity

Difference Protest

Upon presentation of the B/L, the cargo weight indicated in the Bill of Lading (Shore figures) is to be compared with the ship’s ullage measurement (Ship’s figures). In case of any deviation of B/L weight from the ships figures, a difference protest is to be issued and addressed to the Shipper. The protest is usually signed ‘for receipt only’. If the Shipper is not available on board to receive the protest, the Agent has to be given the protest in exchange for a receipt stating his obligation to hand it over to the Shipper.

When the difference Bill of Lading - Ship’s figures in the discharge port is more than 0.5% the surveyor will usually address an appropriate protest to the ship. This protest should always be signed ‘For receipt only’. Master is not to sign any B/L which deviates more than 0.5 % from the ships figure without consultation with the management office.

Deadfreight Protest

This protest is the basis for Owners deadfreight claim against the Charterers, in the event that the shippers are unable to supply the quantity nominated in the Notice of Readiness. It is important that the form is filled in completely and delivered to the Shippers via the Agent as soon as it is known that the nominated quantity is not / will not be loaded.

Temperature Protest

Cargo loading temperature or temperature margins are agreed for cargoes requiring heating. If the temperature deviates appreciably from the agreed levels (usually +/- 10% of the allowed temperature) a ‘temperature protest’ is to be issued against the Shipper. If the maximum temperature agreed to is exceeded (e.g. for phenol) even minimum excess temperature cannot be accepted, depending on the product and conditions of stowage. A ‘temperature protest’ is to be issued. The management office is to be kept informed. The Receivers will usually protest when the cargo temperature is determined as too low or too high by the surveyor.

In case of cargoes requiring heating, the heating orders of the Shipper or Owners must be followed to avoid protests and delays in the port of discharge. Note that overheating can damage some cargoes (Phenol, HMD).

Low loading or discharging rate protest

Depending on the total time for loading, a suitable protest is to be directed to the Shipper if the loading rate is much too slow. Some charter parties do have a minimum loading rate. In this case the operator will inform you regarding the minimum loading rate. A discharge rate (m3/h) is normally agreed in the charter party. The Receiver will lodge a ‘discharge rate protest’, if the actual rate seems too slow to him. All remarks have to be entered by the Master

in the protest that could improve the position of Owners in a possible claim. Such as, but not limited to the following:

Exceeding the maximum agreed quantity

If the maximum agreed cargo quantity is exceeded (min/max, upper margin limit) by no more than 1% or 2 mts, this can be accepted. If the limit is exceeded, the management office must be informed immediately that necessary steps can be taken. The following solutions are feasible: i) Protest

ii) Pumping back the excess cargo.

The claim

The main objective of the "Carriage of goods" Rules is to ensure that the cargo is delivered in like good order and condition which means that the condition of he cargo should not have deteriorated whilst it was in the care and custody of the carrier. However, the Rules recognise the possibility that, for reasons beyond the control o the carrier, he may fail to meet that obligation.

In such cases, the Rules may protect the carrier from liability for claims arising out of his failure to deliver the cargo "in like good order and condition” (see Hague Rules, Article IV, rules 1-2). However, before he can rely on these exceptions the carrier is expected to learn not only from his own mistakes but also from those of other carriers within the shipping community. Thirdly, as with the deviation provisions, the exceptions are interpreted in a narrow and restrictive sense and the carrier can never rely on them confidently.

The reader should note three important points relating to the Rules. Firstly, the exceptions will only come to the aid of the carrier if he has done everything possible to look after the cargo and prevent loss or damage occurring. Secondly, the scope of the exceptions are continually diminishing; the carrier is expected to learn not only from his won mistakes but also from those of other carriers within the shipping community. Thirdly, as with the deviation provisions, the exceptions are interpreted in a narrow and restrictive sense and the carrier can never rely on them confidently.

The obligations imposed on the carrier by the rules have been devised to keep loss and damage to a minimum. Thus, it is likely that where cargo loss and damage has arisen, the carrier will be found to have been in breach of the Rules. That does not mean that the carrier will be found liable for every cargo claim brought against him. However, the carrier will be in a far better position to defend claims and to produce the evidence required to refute them if he has implemented, in the first instance, the very system and procedures on board the vessel which minimise the risks of claims arising.

Note of protest

A note of protest is a declaration made on oath before a person empowered by law to witness such a declaration. It is a simple statement of fact that, historically, preserved the right to reject liability for damage (primarily to cargo interests) and was utilised by average adjusters. A protest is usually made when the ship and/or cargo is damaged or may have been damaged as a result of bad weather or other circumstances beyond the control of the Master.

Protest should also be noted in circumstances when the cargo is likely to deteriorate or when a general average incident has occurred which does not necessarily involve damage to the ship or cargo. A note of protest should be made as soon as possible after arrival in the first port after the incident giving rise to the protest. The ship's P&I Club local correspondent should be able to advise on local requirements in a particular port relating to the noting of protest.

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