Bags of trouble
A commercial ship manager fixed a ship for a voyage of 4,000 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate in big bags. This type of cargo had been carried by the commercial manager’s fleet on several occasions, but the cargo had always previously been described as being in loose/bulk condition.
After the ship had loaded about 950 metric tonnes, port state control came aboard and stopped any further loading, as it was established the ship did not have permission to load ammonium nitrate in big bags but only in loose condition.
After checking the position with owners, the classification society and the flag state, it was confirmed that the ship which had been fixed was not suitable to load the ammonium nitrate in big bags.
To keep any costs to a minimum, the commercial manager fixed a different ship in their managed fleet for the same cargo, with the agreement of the charterers. The charterers then held the owners responsible for the additional costs, who in turn, held the commercial manager liable. Fortunately, these costs only amounted to EUR 22,000, which was reimbursed to the commercial manager by ITIC. The cost of this claim could have been significantly higher, if a suitable substitute vessel had not been available.
Commercial managers need to be fully aware of all limitations which ships under their management have, as regards to carriage of particular cargoes and, furthermore, must pay careful attention to the detailed description of any cargo which they agree to commit their owners to in any charterparty fixture.