At all times and under all circumstances the owner/operator of a vessel has the duty to act prudently and therefore has the responsibility to take whatever steps necessary, including organising pre-loading surveys to ensure that the bills of lading are correctly endorsed whenever appropriate.
Naturally the circumstances under which such preventive surveys are required, will vary from port to port and also from cargo to cargo. It would not be possible to provide an exhaustive list of the types of cargoes and ports where surveys should be recommended.
It is entirely up to the Master’s and his Cargo Officers’ experience and the Company Insurance Departments advice to order pre-loading surveys at the right time for sensitive/highly valued cargo under doubtful circumstances.
Following cargoes are considered as sensitive:
- All steel cargoes, protected or not (mainly pre-loading).
- Bagged cargoes in big quantities or destined for West Africa / South America (pre-loading and suitable stowage surveys).
- Bagged cargoes loaded at Indian ports (pre-loading).
- Dangerous cargoes (pre-loading and supervision)
Pre-loading surveys can prevent huge claims to the Company or make it much easier to defend claims. It is in the interest of the Company’s P&I Club to notify the Club via the Company Insurance Department, if a Master or his Cargo Officer suggests a pre-loading survey.
The Insurance Department and the P&I Clubs periodically issue informative circulars to vessels with information on cargoes requiring pre-loading surveys and related ports. The organisation of all and any pre-loading survey is executed or authorised by the Insurance Department.
The Master and the Cargo Officer must use all available information and their own judgement when suggesting pre-loading surveys, immediately after they receive stowage plans, loading lists or other relevant documentation, before loading the respective cargo.
The suggestion for a pre-loading survey must be passed to the Company Insurance Department at any time, before the cargo is to be loaded, and the emergency contact facilities may be used in case time differences or weekends would make it difficult to send the suggestion during normal office hours.
The Insurance Department will organise the survey and then report details, such as the surveyor’s company, name, date and time of the survey, to the ship.
The Master should then inform the local agent’s/shipper’s representatives and stevedores about the scheduled survey.
The Master should record the time of the survey and details, in case the survey is alleged to interrupt or delay cargo operations, and keep a copy of the survey report or at least all details of the survey or even any suggestions for remarks on B/L’s.
Surveyors for pre-loading surveys may not only inspect the cargo before loading but additionally provide valuable guidance for stowage and securing of steel, bagged, dangerous or other sensitive cargoes.
The surveyor, in such case, can extend the survey report by including stowage and securing measures to be taken. In case of dangerous cargoes an expert surveyor may be asked to supervise and report about the pre-loading, stowage and securing operations.