The North of England P&I club has warned its members to keep a closer watch on draught surveys to avoid costly cargo shortage claims.
According to Tony Baker, head of North of England’s loss-prevention department, ‘We have recently witnessed a number of incidents where draught surveys have been manipulated to show short delivery of bulk cargoes. Some of the resulting shortage claims have involved large sums of money particularly as the values of some cargoes have risen dramatically in recent months.’
In the latest issue of its loss-prevention newsletter Signals, the club says masters in some regions are being asked to stamp and sign initial draught figures in such a way that allows a third party to falsify final draught results. ‘Subsequent allegations of shortage are then difficult to defend as they are supported by a signed and stamped draught survey, showing the master’s apparent acknowledgement of final draughts at the load port,’ says risk-management executive Andrew Glen.
North of England has thus advised masters to place their signatures immediately adjacent initial draught survey figures and add the remark ‘for initial draught survey’. According to the club this should ensure that final draught results are subsequently re-submitted for signature.
North of England has also warned its members not to accept third-party surveys commissioned by shippers rather than conducting their own surveys. ‘It is the master’s responsibility to ensure figures submitted by the shipper are a true reflection of the cargo loaded and discharged,’ says Baker. ‘Article III, rule 3 of the Hague Visby Rules places an obligation on carriers to confirm that the figures declared on the bills of lading are a true representation of the cargo carried on board.’
The club has reminded members of how to ensure draught surveys are accurate, including determination of ballast tank contents, keeping vessels stationary and within trim-correction values during surveys, taking care of density samples and, above all, ensuring draught marks are properly read and recorded.