A new publication from the UK P&I Club “How to prevent tanker cargo shortage claims” and subtitled “The cause of claims and how to avoid them during pre-loading, loading and unloading” focuses on one of the major sources of cargo-related claims in the tanker sector. It follows on and complements the recently published UK Club “Tanker Contamination Claims Checklist”.
It identifies the main causes of cargo loss, the discrepancy between what was loaded and what was discharged, arising from both on board and shoreside failings and compiles the key points to consider in several distinct sections running from the pre-loading phase through to discharge.
The checklist begins by considering whether the ship is suitable for the nominated cargo(es) to be loaded. Ensuring so far as practical whether the charterers have provided you with adequate information, cargo planning and maintaining records during loading and on passage are all detailed.
Any meeting with terminal staff should not be limited to filling out cargo and safety checklists, says the Club. It is in the ship’s interest for the chief officer to take these opportunities to build a strong working relationship with shore personnel. Likewise a good relationship should be developed with the cargo inspector.
Establishing the amount of cargo loaded is of course critical. Claims for alleged shortages after completion of discharge are always based on the difference between the net bill of lading and outturn quantities in the first instance.
Even if both terminals carry out their measurements diligently, each will (quite legally) round off temperature and ullage readings in its favour, so differences are only to be expected. In general the bill of lading quantity may be overstated and the outturn quantity may be understated. In the absence of a like for like comparison, the ship is the only common factor and therefore the measurements taken on board are extremely important.
The checklist also points out that cargo inspectors are, like all of us, human and therefore do from time to time make errors. Causes of errors and how to avoid them are detailed.
When unloading, again a good relationship with the cargo inspector at the discharge port is essential.
The club also reminds owners of the existence of a DVD, “Tanker Matters”. This is one of a series of Cargo Matters videos/DVDs that aim to increase awareness of the causes of P&I claims for cargo damage and loss. Tanker Matters focuses on some of the most frequent causes of tanker cargo claims and how to avoid them. The DVD can be viewed continuously, or scene by scene.