Supercargo. When taking a vessel on charter, it can be a practice for charterers to reserve the right to keep on board at any time and for any length of time a “supercargo”, at their own expense, for the duration of the time charter.
The supercargo is a person representing the charterers and is on board to supervise the cargo operations. The owners are to provide food for the supercargo usually at an agreed rate and to provide officer’s accommodation free of charge. In particular, liner companies, which have to resort to chartering a tramp vessel for one of their regular sailings, may avail themselves of this right. It is evident that the presence of one of the company’s experienced officers, who is fully conversant with all the “ins and outs” of the trade in question, may result in a considerable saving. Local knowledge of the conditions prevailing in the ports of call is also essential.
In general, it is up to the supercargo to see to it that the charterers’ interests are duly protected, without in any way interfering with the management of the vessel. The responsibility for careful stowage and handling of cargo still remains with the master of the chartered vessel.