Cargo operation on board, procedure, personnel involved

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Reception and stowage of cargo on board the ship as well as its correct delivery to the Consignees are the main responsibilities of the Shipmaster and his Cargo Officer. The Cargo Officer is directly charged with supervising every stage of the said operations and preparing a number of cargo documents which are to be drawn up both before and during loading or discharging.


Before loading the C/O should make out the NOR to load to advice the Shipper of the fact that the vessel is in every respect ready to commence loading. Signed by the Master, it must be tendered on the Shipper through the ship’s Agent during customary office hours. The procedure of tendering NOR is provided for by the Charter Party.

The C/O should ensure all necessary preparation for loading. It has become common practice nowadays to invite special port cargo surveyors before and after loading to inspect cargo spaces and stow and to certify that all statutory requirements have been met. The cargo is taken on board in accordance with CARGO PLAN which is made out by the C/O or the Agent, and should always be approved by the Shipmaster prior to loading. The ship’s safety in voyage that is her stability and seaworthiness must be taken into consideration in planning the stowage of goods in the cargo spaces. The other main principles of stowage should also be taken into account.

The C/O supervises the whole of the process of loading. He must instruct foremen and stevedores as to the proper stowage of goods in the ship’s cargo compartments and spaces; take measures for preventing any damage either to the cargo or to the vessel due to negligent handling; arrange careful tally of the goods taken on board and so on.

For each shipment of cargo actually received on board C/O draws up a MATE’S RECEIPT on which,

in case of short-shipment or damaged condition of goods or defects in their packing, he should add appropriate remarks or clauses to protect the vessel against claims for loss or damage.

After completion of loading, the Shipmaster signs a receipt for the goods taken on board. Such receipt is called BILL OF LADING. It contains general information about the cargo and is evidence of Contract of Carriage as well as is document of title.

The STOWAGE PLAN and MANIFEST OF CARGO are than drawn up and air-mailed to the port of discharge to facilitate discharging operations by obtaining necessary labor and cargo handling equipment. The Stowage Plan is the actual placing of cargo on board. The Manifest of Cargo is the list of all goods on board, made out by the Agent on the basis of all Bs/L issued.


At the port of destination cargo must be discharged in the manner required by the relevant port regulations and customs unless the Charter Party or Bs/L stipulate a particular method. The procedure of cargo delivery is governed by a number of cargo documents. In compliance with the Charter Party the Shipmaster is duly to advice the Agent in the port of his vessel’s ETA, kind of cargo on board and sometimes other information about the cargo. Having received this information the Agent notifies the Port Authority and the Consignee of the vessels arrival, securing a berth, obtains sufficient labor and cargo handling facilities. The actual discharging of the cargo usually commences after the Shipmaster has drawn up and signed the NOR to discharge, which should be tendered to the Agent. The discharging is usually effected by a STEVEDORING COMPANY into their warehouses or pier-sheds and subsequently delivered to the Consignee. Direct delivery of goods from alongside the vessel may also take place. The C/O supervises all stages of discharging and deals with the officials and workmen.

The cargo is most often delivered against the ORIGINAL B/L. If the cargo satisfies the requirements of Receivers they sign the CLEAN B/L.  The Shipmaster may deliver goods only he has ascertained that freight and all other charges due to Carrier have been paid. In case of short-delivery or any disputes or claims on the part of the Receivers, the Agent is to arrange for an immediate check-up on the cargo to protect the interests of the vessel. 

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