News 01 Aug, 2011

IMSBC Code - "Group A" Cargoes - Charter Party Clause

Members will be familiar with the problems that have been experienced with particular cargoes classified as “Group A” in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code. “Group A” cargoes may liquefy if shipped at a moisture content in excess of their transportable moisture limit, and recent incidents involving nickel ore, Indian iron ore fines and Brazilian sinter feed have resulted in the International Group and the Club issuing various Notices and Alerts.

Since many of the difficulties are derived from inaccurate test certificates provided by cargo interests, it is often necessary to instruct a surveyor to take samples and send them to a reliable laboratory for analysis and, in certain circumstances, to appoint an expert. However, experience has shown that shippers may hinder access to stockpiles, and charterers may try to prevent ship owners from using their surveyors, experts or laboratories of choice. The International Group has therefore drafted a clause which it recommends is used by ship owners as a standard template for inclusion in charter parties if “Group A” cargoes are to be carried.

The clause reads as follows and may be amended as required:

Solid bulk cargoes are to be presented for carriage, loaded, (and where necessary trimmed) only so far as lawful and harmless, and always in compliance with all applicable international regulations, including IMSBC Code 2009 (as may be amended from time to time). All time taken in complying with such regulations, or as a result of non-compliance shall be for Charterers sole time and expense (whether as hire or as laytime/demurrage as applicable). Charterers shall be responsible for any and all additional costs, expenses and liabilities whatsoever incurred in such compliance or as a result of any non-compliance. For IMSBC Code Group A cargoes the Charterers are to provide certificate(s) of test from a laboratory which must be approved in advance by Owners at Owners absolute discretion, and such certificate(s) of test must show the Transportable Moisture Limit (TML) and Flow Moisture Point (FMP) and moisture content. Such certificate(s) are to be presented to Owners and Master prior to, and as a condition, of the commencement of loading. The Master shall also have the right in his absolute discretion to refuse to accept cargo on board or, after loading, to refuse to sail, where in his reasonable opinion, there is a risk (including but not limited to the risk of liquefaction of the cargo) which could jeopardise the safety of the crew, the vessel or the cargo on the voyage. The Master shall also have the right in his absolute discretion to demand that such cargo be offloaded from the vessel. Such refusal and/or demand to offload shall not be a breach of charter and Charterers shall be responsible at their sole time and expense (whether as hire or as laytime/demurrage as applicable) for all steps required to make the cargo safe and/or to allow the vessel to sail to the satisfaction of the Master. In any event, Charterers are to allow Owners or their representatives to take samples of cargoes prior to, and as a condition, of loading and Owners shall be entitled to test such samples and/or appoint surveyors and/or experts to act on their behalf always at Owner’s discretion. Charterers agree to pay and indemnify owners for all costs and consequences incurred as a result of Charterers orders to load solid bulk cargoes and all the time taken up by the steps outlined in this clause shall be for Charterers account and Charterers shall be responsible at their sole time and expense (whether as hire or as laytime/demurrage as applicable). This clause is always without prejudice to the obligations of Charterers to provide a safe cargo and in relation to loading and nothing done or omitted to be done by the Master or Owners pursuant to this clause shall amount to a waiver of any rights of Owners.

In order to minimise the possibility of delay, Members are reminded to inform the Managers on fixing a cargo of nickel ore or Indian iron ore fines so that samples may be taken and sent to an independent laboratory for analysis prior to the vessel’s arrival.

If further information is required, please contact the Loss Prevention department.