Back Letter. Back letters may be drawn up to complement a contract in order to lay down rights and/or obligations between both contracting parties, which, for some reason or other, cannot be included in the original contract. This expression is also used for “letters of indemnity”.


Builder’s certificate. As the name indicates, this certificate is issued by the shipbuilding yard, containing a true account of the estimated tonnage; the year and place where the vessel was built and also the name of the owners and other details. This certificate is required in addition to the declaration of ownership , on the first registry of the ship.


Breakdown clause. Time charterparties contain a clause providing that if the ship is unavailable for the charterer's use because there is loss of time as a result of "...breakdown or damages to hull, machinery or equipment..." (among other causes) payment of the hire money to the shipowner ceases for all or some of the time lost.

Breadth moulded. This expression relates to the maximum breadth of a ship measured amidships between the outside (heels) of the frames, i.e. to the inside of shell plating.

Ballast. In order to increase the stability of ships, which have to be dispatched without cargo and to ensure that the propeller will be immersed sufficiently, say about two-thirds of its diameter, a sufficient quantity of ballast will be loaded before sailing. The quantity of ballast depends on the type of vessel, quantity of water which can be taken in the ballast tanks and also the voyage to be made. Seasonal weather conditions which may be expected on the voyage must also be considered.


Bilge. The bilge of a vessel with double bottom tanks is a triangular channel on both sides formed by the margin plate of a double bottom, the curvature of the outer skin of the vessel and the bilge ceiling.

Brokerage (or Commission). It is customary to express the remuneration for the broker's time and efforts in negotiating and arranging the contract as a certain percentage of the money earned by the shipowner. (In marine insurance, the broker is generally paid a commission by the underwriter although the assured is the broker's client and the services are for the client.) In shipbroking, the term "brokerage" is generally preferable instead of "commission" because the latter term is usually related to the charterer's reward as "address commission".

Breach of contract. A contract contains obligations of each of the parties to the agreement. If these obligations are not carried out or not performed or, if performed badly, a breach of contract occurs.

Boycott clause. A charterer may insist that a charterparty contains a clause, which causes the shipowner to take the risks if the vessel is delayed by a "boycott" by labour.

Blue Certificate. This is a document that may be carried by a ship; it indicates that the shipowner has entered into an agreement with the ITF (the International Transport Workers' Federation) that the crew are being paid wages and salaries, which are specified by the ITF.

Barrel (Bbl). A unit of measurement of liquid cargoes, usually oil. One bbl contains 34.97261 Imperial gallons or 42 U.S. gallons, or 1 cubic metre of oil measures 6.29 bbls. If the specific gravity of the oil is 0.8, one tonne of oil will be approximately 7.9 bbls


Bonding. This is an operation that was performed (and can still be used in some ports) on oil tankers to prevent electrical discharges caused by a difference of discharged.

Bills of lading and charterparties. In exercising the authority to sign bills of lading the charterers, agents and masters must ensure that the terms within the bill of lading are consistent with those in the charterparty that require a bill of lading to be signed and issued.

BALTIME. A Uniform standard form time charter published by BIMCO. In 1974 another edition included a box type format for main details and descriptive text for the clauses. BALTIME generally favours the shipowners' side and contrasts the NYPE, the New York Produce Exchange Form of time charter, which tends to favour the charterer's side.