Grain clauses

Grain clauses. Grain cargoes can be dangerous for the stability of the ship because the grain has a tendency to shift when the ship moves in a seaway.

The shifting can cause the ship to heel and list over and also capsize if its stability is insufficient. The Safety of Life at Sea Convention 1974 (SOLAS 1974), an international agreement, governs the loading and carriage of grain cargoes. SOLAS is implemented in many countries by domestic legislation. Ships which load in these countries and/or which are registered in countries which have adopted SOLAS, have to comply with the regulations contained in the Grain Rules based on the SOLAS requirements and which are also adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Included in these Rules is a requirement that a ship loading and carrying grain must possess a “document of authorisation” issued by its flag-state or by a government, which has implemented the Grain Rules. This document is equivalent to a “Grain certificate”. If a ship does not possess a document of authorisation, the loading port authorities may permit the slop to load provided it meets the conditions imposed by the authorities.

Reference to the latter procedure may come under the general heading of “Vessel inspection” in a charterparty for carriage of grain. For example, in the North American Grain charterparty 1973, (amended in 1989 and now known as “NORGRAIN 89”) the shipowner is required to comply with inspections (and instructions) of certain port authorities. Clause 3 states:

“Vessel to load under inspection of National Cargo Bureau, Inc. in U.S.A. ports or of the Port Warden in Canadian ports. Vessel is also to load under the inspection of a Grain Inspector licensed/authorised by the United States Department of Agriculture. . ., and/or of a Grain Inspector employed by the Canada Department of Agriculture as required by the appropriate authorities. . .

Vessel is to comply with the rules of such authorities, and shall load cargo not exceeding what she can reasonably stow and carry . . . Cost of such inspections shall be borne by Owners.”

It can be a practice, although this is not essential from the point of view of the ship’s actual “readiness” to load, to stipulate in a charterparty for grain that Notice of Readiness can only be tendered by the master if a certificate from a competent surveyor can be produced at the sane time stating that the ship is in a fit state to carry grain. In fact, if the ship does not possess the required document of authorisation or does not undergo the inspections required in the charterparty it will not be actually ready to load, nor, indeed will it be permitted to do so. As a result the N.O.R. will be invalid and ineffective. This will delay the commencement of laytime.


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