Cargo capacity

Cargo capacity. This is the quantity of cargo the ship can carry or the volume of the space the ship has for cargo. It is found in the charterparty clause describing the ship and is part of the shipowner’s warranties about the ship. If the ship does not meet the description given by the owner, he could become liable for a “breach of warranty” and have to pay compensation or damages or perhaps even a “breach of condition”, allowing the charterers to cancel (“repudiate”) the charter.

The description of the ship depends on the service for which it is being provided and also the type of charter. For example, in a time charter, the description would be more detailed than in a voyage charter because the charterers will have to take certain risks of using the ship for a longer period of time. The cargo capacity is one of the more important elements of the description.

There are two methods in which the cargo capacity is described. These are: the deadweight and the cubic capacity of the cargo compartments. Deadweight can be either “Deadweight All Told (DWAT)” (the total deadweight of the ship comprising cargo, stores, fuel, water, ballast, etc.) or “Deadweight Cargo Capacity (DWCC)”. Examples are given below:

GENCON charterparty: “It is agreed between the . . . Owners of the . . . motor vessel . . . carrying about the number of tons of deadweight cargo… “

MULTIFORM charterparty: “The Owners describe the vessel as … Summer deadweight all told of about … metric/long tons on a draft of . . . in salt water . . . Cubic feet grain/bale in main holds and tweendecks . . .”

NEW YORK PRODUCE EXCHANGE form charterparty: “This Charterparty made and concluded . . . between . . . Owners of the . . . of about.. . cubic feet bale capacity, and about . . . tons of …. lbs. deadweight capacity (cargo and bunkers, including fresh water and stores not exceeding one and one-half percent of ship’s deadweight capacity, allowing a minimum of fifty tons) on a draft of…”

The deadweight capacity depends on a certain draught, usually in sea water when loaded to the “Summer loadline” and usually related to the ship’s draught and freeboard as per its Load Line Certificate. The volume in cubic feet or cubic metres is a measure of two types of cargo, bulk or small particles (“grain”) and bags or packaged cargo (“bale”). Bale capacity is smaller than grain capacity because of the spaces that would be wasted by the components of the ship’s structure and by spaces between the packages of cargo (called “Broken stowage”.). Misdescription of the bale or grain capacity may cause the vessel to be unsuitable for the charter and may cause the shipowner to become liable in damages in addition to losing the charter. The bale and grain cargo capacity is relevant to the weight that can be loaded, based upon the cargo “stowage factor”.


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