Receiving and Delivering Cargo

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Receiving Cargo

General Cargo

The Owner or his Agent who have booked the cargo must check its condition at the time of carting. Such monitoring shall ensure that:

  • It is suitably packed,
  • Fit for sea-transportation,
  • Not tampered with or damaged,
  • Space allotted for its storage in the Port is suitable and
  • The need for taking tally when taking over the cargo from the shippers.

This one sided tally is to satisfy the Owner or his Agents only. It may not have much significance because the port is not involved in such tally.

The Exporter or Importer insures the cargo from the Exporter’s warehouse upto the Importer’s warehouse for a period of 90 to 120 days. The Ship Owner’s responsibility and insurance starts from the time the cargo crosses the ship’s rail into the hold and until it is off the rails at the discharging port. In case of container cargoes, the responsibility of the cargo lies with the ship owner from the time the cargo is given out of charge i.e. after passing through the customs examination.

In multimodal transport operations, the main agency, who is responsible for delivering the goods from the Exporter to the Importer, also insures the goods whilst in his possession. Similarly each operator of different legs of transportation insures the goods for his leg of transportation.

The differences in tally or the cargo condition can be brought to the notice of Shippers or the Custom Clearing House Agents (CHA) who acts on Shipper’s behalf. Shortages if any or disputes about the quantity or quality can be resolved at the initial stage itself with the Shippers. The Port can be made aware of initial tally taken by the Owners or his Agents. After these initial problems are over the CHA who pays all the dues such as customs duty, port wharfage etc. and has it examined by the customs, gives all the documents to the Port stating that it is out of charge and ready for export shipment.

Handling of valuable or special cargoes

For Special Cargoes the Shipper should declare its value and if it is expensive or sensitive should demand special care from the Owners or his Agents and the Port. All the procedures are same except that particular care is taken from its reception in the Shed and kept in the lockfast until its actual shipment on the vessel.

The Owner or his Agent tallies on receiving. However, the Port takes its tally when the shipment is ready to be loaded on board. Apart from the Port tally the ship’s staff also takes tally and allots a suitable stowage in ship’s locker. If the tally by the Owner or his Agent at the time of receiving cargo and the tally by the ship is identical to that of the Port then it is in order.

The ship’s staff on board also makes sure the packages received are in order and not tampered with and their weights are as per declaration. If they have the slightest doubt, these are then opened and surveyed in presence of the Shipper or his CHA. If shortages are found in the contents declared in the packing list these are either made good, recomposed or rejected. Similarly if there is any difference found in the tally it is brought to the attention of the Port.

The Ship’s lockers should be locked and sealed after the ship’s officers load such special cargoes. All care is to be taken during the voyage and all round surveillance to be maintained.

Hazardous cargoes

Hazardous or IMDG cargoes are generally not carted before the vessel’s arrival in Port, because of obvious reasons. This is also stored near the berth depending upon its hazardous nature and its compatibility with other cargoes.

The Shipper or his CHA is required to:

  • Declare the nature of cargo,
  • Give all documents as required by IMDG Code,
  • Make sure all the package are labelled as per IMDG Code and
  • Give Stowage instructions to the vessel.

The owner may decide to take pre-shipment tally. The vessel allots required stowage after checking the documents and fitness of cargo.

Refrigerated cargoes in Containers

When carried in containers reefer cargoes are usually stuffed in pre-cooled reefer containers at the cold storage of the Shipper. The cargo condition, temperature and tally of the packages is’noted. The cargo condition and temperature should be as specified by the Shipper / Consignee and pre cooled temperature and cleanliness of the reefer container is to be recorded.

Generally a firm of cargo surveyor’s certifies the fitness of reefer containers, its cleanliness and the fitness of reefer cargo .The Reefer container carried on the trailer is always plugged on to the Mobile generator, which is carried underneath the trailer.

After the container is stuffed, it is locked and sealed by the customs or their authorised agencies namely Excise Department and brought in the port area at the reefer station. It’s current supply socket is plugged in to the shore electrical sockets from the socket of the mobile generator so that its cooling machinery continues cooling and maintaining the required temperature.

The owners or his Agents representatives attend thereafter to record the refer containers temperature by outside gauges until the containers are shipped on the vessel. Such ships have reefer sockets at 440 volts – 50 cycles.

Dry Cargo in Containers

For containerized Cargoes the stuffing (CFS) point is remotely located from the Port. Moreover the carting is continuous in the shed. The stuffing of containers goes on. In such event the tallying and receiving of the cargo is done under Owner or his Agents supervision. This process is continuous and hence supervised by specialized surveyors or their own staff. They see the cargo for its fitness, proper packing. The containers are lined outside the stuffing point. Their fitness/ seaworthiness of containers is certified by the Cargo surveyors or the Owners or his Agents staff and stuffed. The container trade has more or less replaced the traditional break bulk trade. Here again the port remains as bailee and their tally is final. The difference in the tally has to be resolved as explained under Tallying.

The containers after being stuffed at CFS are moved to the Export Container yard of the port for loading into the ship. The ship may or may not be in port then. All the tally sheets are issued and Mates Receipt are signed by the person authorized by the Owner or his Agent for containerized cargoes. The container must be locked and sealed by Customs before they are moved from CFS to CY awaiting shipment by the owners or his Agents.

In Container Ships, the copies Of Mate’s Receipts and B/Ladings are not handed over to the Ship. The Ship’s Agent forwards the copies of B/Ladings, Container Bay Plans, Container Load Plans and also Export General Manifests to the respective Shipping Agents at the discharging ports. The load port agent also sends the slots utilized by him to the next port of loading before the ship’s arrival at the next port of loading. The ship receives only the Container Bay Plan and the load plan.

Bulk Cargoes

For bulk cargo, there is no tally involved but before stockpiling of cargo, the weather should be checked from liquefaction point of view i.e. it is not raining continuously. It’s flow test and analysis report most be obtained. The bulk cargo is stockpiled before the vessel’s arrival at berth. As a precaution, the cargo can be kept covered during the rains.

The Total weight of the cargo is checked by the draft survey. Individual weights in the holds can be checked by the volume of the cargo occupied, which will be approximately calculated.

For Soya Bean Meal (SBM) cargo, which is generally booked from West Coast of India in season for full shiploads in bulk on Charter Party (C/P) terms between the ship Owners, and Buyers is brought in the Port by different Shippers in bags. We thus have a peculiar situation when the vessel is responsible for total cargo weight in bulk whereas the different shippers bring cargo in bags. The Owner or his Agent has no choice but to check each shipper’s cargo in bags for quantity and quality by taking its receiving tally and check the colour of the cargo whether it matches as per C/P for quantity. The buyer stipulates that the cargo should be of appropriate colour.

This cargo is generally bought as Cattle Feed. The colour of the cargo is important for it’s protein contents. After the removal of oil, it is treated with some mild chemicals. As per IMDG Code requirements these have to be evaporated and exposed to atmosphere by weathering for at least ten days and the oil and moisture content have to be analysed.

The Shippers give certificates and reports at the time of tendering cargo for shipment. The cargo is also tallied for correct number of bags. Once the receiving tally, quantity and analysis reports are received, the cargo is accepted for shipment. There are many shipping bills involved for each shipload. The disputes about the Shipowner’s tally and the quantity declared by the shippers as per shipping bill are resolved between the two without involving the Port at this stage.

The sling of bags is landed on hatch tops. There the bags are bled into the holds through slit hatches and trimmed. However after loading the oilcakes in bulk if the dispute about the quantity still remains, the port as bailee, the Owner and his P & I Club should be contacted. Under no circumstances letter of Indemnity is to be accepted, because it has no legal validity. The bulk quantity loaded is established by taking the initial and final draft survey. A statement of fact is made out on completion of loading and signed by the Master and Charterers.

Tanker Cargoes

For tankers there is no receiving tally or pre-shipment tally involved because the oil is shipped in bulk. From the tank ullages, the Bill of Lading quantities are determined on board, transmitted to the owners and Bill of Ladings are issued. The oil cargo is stored in shore tank farms but the oil cargo is subjected to transportation through pipelines and this quantity in the pipelines may not indicate the exact quantity received on board. Similar conditions are applicable to liquefied gases. Hence tank ullages are better form of ascertaining the quantity loaded or discharged. Tank ullages in gas carrier are read on computers situated in the cargo control rooms.


The official tallying of the cargo is actually done by the PORT. Their tally sheets are final. As BAILEE’s of cargo they receive the cargo as per the Shipping Bill in full and then they are legally responsible for full shipment. Even if the ship may do its own tally before the shipment it has no legal validity. Joint tally is not permitted. Therefore, it is better to resolve any difference in tally with the Port because the cargo in question may be already loaded. The copies of tally sheets are not given to the owners and or his Agents or to the ship also. These tally sheets are later used by Port as Bailee’s for drawing up Mates Receipts and these are given to the ship. If any dispute or difference are noted these can best be resolved by contacting the Owner or his Agents or P & I Club. Usually a via media would be found before making any remarks on the Mate’s Receipt.

The matter is then arbitrated between the Shipper, the Owner or his Agent, the Ship’s staff and the Port. However if the difference still persists then a suitable remark in the Mates Receipt stating that ” No of packages with the package numbers .are found short, they shall be delivered to consignees at the destination if found” This is called ‘clausing’ Mate’s Receipt and subsequently clausing a bill of lading. However a shipper does not like such endorsed bill of lading as the commercial value is then affected . He therefore may offer a letter of indemnity. This should never be accepted since it has no legal status.

In such conflicting cases the advice of P & I Club could be sought. A via media suggested by P & I Club, with the consent of the Owner or his Agent would be most prudent. The Port however does not accept anything less than the shipping bill quantity because they are the “Bailee’s” of the cargo and are supposed to have received the consignment in full.

Depending on the advice the Ship receives from his Owners or the Agents, the ship should be guided accordingly. If the claim should arise the Owner will have to defend or in worst case may have to pay the claim. Therefore, instead of ship taking the decision, all those involved should be in the picture from the beginning. That is why it is necessary to take ample care at the tallying stage itself for such cargoes or for that matter any cargo.

Delivery Of Cargo

After the Cargo is discharged, the Custom House Agent (CHA) appointed by the receivers obtains delivery orders from the Shipowner’s or his agents in their favour after surrendering the Original B/Lading and payment of Ocean freight if due and any other charges recoverable. The CHA approaches the Port for giving delivery of cargo after completing Bill of Entry (BE) procedure and also after payment of the customs duties/penalties if any and port dues including wharfages and demurrages if any. The CHA takes delivery of the cargo meant for his B/L. This way he continues taking delivery of cargo and makes room in the shed for more cargo to be discharged and stored. It may be noted that steel or drum cargo is normally stored in open spaces and delivery is given from there.

It is the responsibility of the Port that the cargoes or consignment meant are not delivered wrongly or cross-delivered. The Owners’ responsibility ceases after the cargoes crosses the ship’s rails. In case of containerized cargo the responsibility of shipowner ceases when the cargo is destuffed in the Port Shed. However, if the Port gives a short landing certificate to the consignee or receiver, the Owner or his Agent shall make good the Bill of Lading quantity. The stevedores of the owner or his Agent normally are entrusted with the job of tracing the cargo and restoring it to the proper Bill of Lading holder.

If there is excess tally then it is adjusted with shortages. However, under no circumstance the Port will allow excess landed cargo to remain in the port. If cross deliveries should occur the owners or his agent try to restore the respective cargoes to original consignees. The CHA on behalf of the party and the CHA on behalf of party, who has taken a wrong delivery involved, make amends and restore the cargoes. In this manner the deliveries are complete. If there are some damaged packages discharged, the consignee arranges for survey of the damaged packages. Depending on the outcome of the Survey, the CHA on behalf of the Consignee lodges a claim with the Ship owner or his Agent for the losses incurred by him within 48 hours of the General landing date so that the claim is not time barred.

If the Port is unable to find all the packages for a particular Bill of Lading and the out turn tally shows the cargo is discharged in full, then they issue a “Short —Landing ” certificate to consignee or receiver, who lodge their claim on the carrier and/or port as bailee and also claim though their insurer.

If there are any damages to the packages then a survey is called for. If the damage is not too severe or repairable, then the CHA on behalf of the receiver or consignee shows the out of charge B/E i.e. the customs duty and port dues fully paid and takes delivery. Sometimes if the package is too severely damaged, the receiver may want to abandon his goods in the port but such a thing is normally not allowed to happen, the Port has to make room for other cargoes being discharged and they insist that the receiver or consignee take delivery of their cargo in “as is condition.”

Sometimes for reasons best known to the receivers or consignees, they do not come forward to take delivery of their cargo at all even after free days are over. The notices sent to them remain unanswered, in which case the port auctions such cargoes for which different rules and norms apply as per Port rules.

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