You would think that a ship is a ship is a ship...but no a ship is not always the ship that you think that she may be. For a ship ‘should be’ what it is – but it isn’t – well not always anyway. It should be what you can see, what you can feel and what the ship owner tell you it is.
But here is the scoop. In a negotiation a ship is sometimes not the ship you thought she was. Yes it’s true. A ship is a harlot and a shameless chameleon capable of miraculous and sometime sinister change. Change by the slight of a pen and the whim of its controller.
Come closer.....a little more. Let me explain..
One day I chartered a big ship and she was an important big ship because she was going to carry one of my companies’ most important cargoes - wheat. Now as you know wheat becomes flour and flour makes bread – and bread feeds the world. So it was an important cargo. Anyway this big imprtant ship was described on the shipowners own website as a single deck ‘self trimming’ bulk carrier and yet on fixing the ship the shipowner refused to have the words ‘self trimming’ appear in the contract. The shipowner said ‘don’t worry your little head about it. Look at her she is a ship and a ship is a ship is a ship and she will load your wheat and all will be fine”.
So the ship arrived and loaded the cargo but alas there was a problem. The ship could not be loaded to full capacity because the ship which was a ship was in fact a ship designed in a funny way. This was a disaster...... because as you know the world was waiting for the wheat and wheat feeds the world.
So in order to load the ship in full we had an argument about who should pay the extra cost and time for ‘trimming’ to allow the ship to load in full. “It’s your cost and time” yelled the shipowner because my ship is just an ordinary ship and if you want extra things to happen you must pay. Then I said “what kind of harlot cannot load wheat up to the top of each hold.........your website says that she is self trimming which means that she should be able to”.......and so it goes...
I had to pay because the words 'self trimming' although on a website were not infact in the contract agreed.
The moral here is this. A ships description is every bit as negotiable as the cargo or the time charter order in question. If you don’t like the description of a ship then you have every right to “try and change it” in a negotiation. Off course this doesn’t mean that the shipowner will accept the changes but some things are well worth trying to change or at least qualify the meaning.
Particularly evil misrepresentations revolve around things like
- The vessels speed and fuel consumption. These can often over stated so as to make the ship appear a better performer than what she is...and hence make you pay more for her.
- The use of the terms ‘about’ and Wog’ in describing elements of the ship
- The hiding of previously accepted terms such as ‘self trimming’ to avoid possible delays and costs with loading and discharging
- Trading histories, recent damage, grounding etc It’s ok to include general clauses to protect the charterers interest during the entire voyage. Eg, “owners agree and warrant that the vessel is suitable in all respects to load the said cargo and to perform the intended voyage”
Buyer beware - and another reason to have your wits about you in a negotiation..
Dont get me wrong I love ships even if these ships are not the ships I originally thought they were. I even like ships that have had 'work done' and ladies that are over 25 years of age. I dont discriminate. I cant afford too...my company has needs. But like any relationship you can never judge a book (or a ship) by its cover...
Find out as much as you can before you get in over your head...
- The Virtual Shipbroker
- Hi. I am a shipping company director, transport academic, author, family man and all round nice guy. I have worked as shipbroker, shipowner, freight trader and bulk charterer, in senior positions, with some of the largest and most disrespected (joke) companies in the world. Ask my advice on all things shipping and you will receive my blunt and always honest answer. Hang around to learn more about chartering and ship broker salaries, chartering and ship broker jobs, chartering and shipbroker recruitment agencies, cheap freight, maritime education, chartering and ship broker qualifications, become a ship broker, tips on how to be a successful bulk shipping executive, philosophy, Zen and the art of shipbroking, and much more. Yours The Virtual Shipbroker (recently proclaimed the guru of shipbroking) Copyright © 2009-17 by Virtualshipbroker