Shifting. This describes the movement of a vessel from one berth to another or from anchorage to a berth. This occupies time. During the shifting time, loading and discharging cannot normally continue.

Therefore the effect on the laytime must be considered in order to determine which parry bears the risk of time lost because of the shifting. Normally, once the vessel has arrived and berthed, it is not bound to shift again from that berth to load the cargo which is the subject matter of the charter.

Usually, in the tanker trade, the vessel may be required to berth some distance away from the arrival anchorage place or to shift berth after lightening its cargo, or to move from berth to berth to load and/or discharge different parcels of cargo. This could be especially relevant to chemical carriers Tanker voyage charterparties contain reasonably explicit clauses dealing with which party should pay for the time occupied in shifting. These will be briefly examined below.

However, also in dry cargo charterparties, responsibility for shifting time may be allocated between the parties. For example, in the MULTIFORM charterparty, it is stated that β€œ . . . time shifting from the waiting places) to the loading/ discharging berth shall not count even if the vessel is already on demurrage.”

In TANKERVOY 87, it is stated very clearly and explicitly, among other matters, that:

“Time lost owing to any of the following causes shall not count as laytime or for demurrage if the vessel is on demurrage: … actually moving from waiting place (even if lightening has occurred there) on an inward passage to a loading or discharging berth or place nominated by Charterers or waiting for pilot or tugs in order so to move . . .”


“If the vessel is required to leave and subsequently to return to the same loading or discharging location because of the vessel’s failure to comply with any of the Owner’s warranties . . . or upon safety grounds (other than those arising out of weather or sea conditions) pursuant to the orders of the port or harbour authority then all expenses incurred in so moving the vessel (including any bunkers consumed) shall be for Owner’s account . . .”

and again,

“Unless the vessel is shifting from waiting place or from a Loading or discharging location as described … (above) … time used in shifting and any detention in reaching the new location shall count as laytime or for demurrage if the vessel is on  demurrage.”

In EXXONVOY 84, for example, it is stated:

“Charterer shall have the right to shift vessel within any port of loading and/or discharging from one loading or discharging place back to the same or another such place once or more often. In the event that Charterer exercises this right, Charterer shall pay all additional expenses properly incurred. Time spent shifting shall count as laytime, or, if vessel is on demurrage, as time on demurrage . . .”


“Charterer or terminal operator shall have the right to shift vessel from a loading and/or discharging place if vessel fails to meet the pumping and/or heating warranties … so as to avoid delay to other vessels waiting to use such place. Charterer or terminal operator shall also have the right to shift vessel from a loading and/or discharging place due to an unsafe condition of vessel. In such situations) Charterer shall not be obliged to provide an alternative loading or discharging place to the place from which the vessel was shifted. However, Charterer shall exercise due diligence to arrange prompt reberthing and commencement of loading or discharging once vessel has corrected deficiency(ies). All expenses related to the shifting and any re-berthing shall be for Owner’s account and all time lost by reason of the foregoing shall not count as laytime or, if the vessel is on demurrage, as time on demurrage . . .”

The above EXXONVOY clause certainly seems very weighted in favour of the Charterer. The shipowner could find that considerable time is lost at his own expense and risk.

While the vessel may be required to shift for the charterer’s own reasons, even disregarding the Failure of the vessel to meet the pumping and heating description in the charterparty or its unsafe condition, the clause does not make allowance for a shift for reasons, for example, weather conditions. In The Isabelle, 1982, the vessel was under a charterparty with a similar clause and such a shift became necessary. It was held by the court that the charterers would have to pay for shifting costs only if they required the vessel to shift. Shifting for port authorities’ reasons was not necessarily for charterers’ reasons. 


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