Grain shipments

Holds inspection
All vessels loading grain are inspected, either at the roads or alongside, by Inspectors belonging to SENASA (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria) and shipmasters are required to expedite the inspectors work by opening hatches, ensure that accesses are in good order, etc.
Obligatory inspection on the berth is arranged by the Agents to whom the vessel is consigned and the Master should not delay the presentation of Notice of Readiness if the vessel is not inspected immediately upon arrival. Inspections carried out upon arrival of a vessel at the roads or while waiting for its assigned berth/grain terminal, are of a preliminary nature and in no way exempt the vessel from the obligatory inspection prior to actual commencement of loading.
 
At first glance it may appear pointless to request a hold inspection while waiting in the roads, at upriver ports of the Paraná River, but experience has dictated this as a convenient measure in case further cleaning or fumigation is required thereby avoiding surprises when coming alongside with consequent higher expenses which could arise if holds are then rejected and the vessel forced to return to the roads.
Cargo spaces presented for inspection must be clean, dry, odorless, free of loose rust scale or traces of weevil/grain insects. Should ship’s holds have been recently painted it is important to ensure that they are aired and adequately ventilated prior to inspection or commencement of loading. The notes are not exhaustive and are to be interpreted only as guidelines.
Should a vessel load at different berths, cargo spaces that have not been previously occupied are still subject to re-inspection. In all cases Certificates of Inspection must be extended by the attending inspectors stating that cargo spaces presented are apt or not, for receiving the intended cargo. A copy of this certificate is to remain on board.
Grain cargoes are also inspected upon reception into silos and during actual loading by independent grain quality control inspectors (appointed by either shippers or buyers of the grain cargo).
 
Control of export weights
Private silos or grain terminals are also authorized to control export weights. Notwithstanding this Customs House officials carry out random cross-checks via draft surveys and ships are recommended to follow these up carefully. Grain by-products are handled at either grain elevators or terminals or open berths. It must be noted that all trucks and wagons delivering grain to silos and terminals are also controlled ‘in/out’ on weighbridges or by scales. Delivery rates obviously vary significantly when operating at open quay berths in comparison to silos/grain terminals. In connection with bulk grain cargoes, the Argentine Coastguard (PNA) may insist upon the production by a ship’s Master of the valid ‘Grain Carriage Booklet’ or corresponding certificate. Plans and/or calculations in respect of grain cargoes which are not signed by a recognized authority are not accepted, and in this case Agents are obliged to have plans and calculations drawn up locally for the approval by the PNA.
Owners are recommended to ensure that their vessels are provided with the necessary signed and updated certificates as per SOLAS recommendations.
 
Stability calculation
Regarding stability calculations, for ships carrying bulk grain, these are to be complied with, including those for heeling moments for shifting of cargo, although to date Coastguard officers clearing vessels upon departure do not usually request these calculations. Vessels carrying by-products (meals in pellet form) can be requested to present transverse stability calculations, but not including heeling moments, as per IMO requirement (XI).
 
Fumigation of grain spaces
Shippers, buyers or charterers frequently require the cargo to be fumigated prior to sailing. In such cases, fumigation is carried out by an authorized fumigation company and the instructions placed on board at the time of fumigation should be strictly adhered to. If part loaded spaces are to be completed at another port, it is usual to fumigate in the last port of loading. However, masters and mates should pay particular attention to this point to avoid entry into a hatch that has been fumigated and/or not properly ventilated. On the other hand, if prior to loading, spaces are initially rejected by IASCAV due to the presence of insects or their larvae, then a pre-loading fumigation may have to be carried out.
 
Trimming of bulk grain cargo
Spout trimming is usual but if required manual trimming can be arranged which must be performed with hatches open. In connection with grain or by-product parcel services, manual trimming is occasionally carried out in order to level off surfaces for laying separations cloths between products within the same cargo space.
 
Priority of ships to load grain and by-products
Berthing priority is normally decided by a vessels’ arrival at the roads of the port or terminal where she is to load, subject to cargo availability or the terminal operators direct intervention to the contrary. In the River Plate and Paraná river in times of congestion, should the port roads be fully occupied and the vessel be prevented from proceeding beyond Zona Común or Recalada by order of the Coastguard (PNA) authority, then priority will be in accordance with arrival at Zona Común or Recalada. It is important then that Masters report their arrival at Recalada and Zona Común as well as, in the usual manner, on arrival at the roads of the port or terminal to which they are bound. Should a vessel be prevented by the Coastguard (PNA) authority from proceeding beyond Recalada or Zona Común, then Notice of Readiness should immediately be presented from that point. Steaming time from such anchorages to the berth is normally considered deductible for time sheet calculations and a clause to that effect should preferably be inserted in the C/P.
 
Charter parties
The Centrocon is the standard charter party used for grain shipments within the Santa Fe-Bahía Blanca range, however, various other CP’s are also used. Due to the out-dated characteristics of many of the clauses, the Centrocon CP is heavily amended by the parties involved in order to adapt it to present day requirements. Clauses will therefore be found to have been maintained, altered or deleted according to these circumstances. Whilst by no means always the case, and as a guide only, the following is liable to be encountered.

a) CLAUSES USUALLY MAINTAINED:
    12)    Lay days and canceling.
    17)    Cargo alongside.
    19)    Capacity.
    21)    Bills of lading and lien.
    27)    Charterers right to be on board.
    29)    Exceptions.
    30)    Strikes.
    32)    War.
    34)    Consignment.
    36)    Rechartering.
    39)    Arbitration.
    40)    Penalty.

b) CLAUSES NORMALLY ADAPTED TO THE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE:
    1)    Agreement between parties.
    2)    Description of the cargo.
    3)    Loading ports. Clause amended, printed clause deleted.
    4)    Destination. Clause amended, printed clause deleted.
    5)    Freight and options. Clause amended, printed clause deleted.
    9)    Loading berths. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    11)    Loading orders. Clause amended. Reference to bags and shifting boards deleted (see also additional comments Item 6 below).
    13)    Rate of loading and demurrage. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    14)    Extra work. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    16)    Despatch money. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    18)    Stevedores. Rider clause added stating cargo to be loaded and discharged free of expense to the vessel. Printed clause deleted.
    20)    Freight payable. Clause amended, printed clause deleted.
    22)    Orders for port of discharge. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    25)    Time for discharging. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    26)    Insufficient water at discharging port. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    31)    General average. Clause amended.
    33)    Clearance at loading port. Rider clause added, printed clause deleted.
    35)    Discount. Clause maintained, adjusted or deleted.
    37)    Brokerage. Clause maintained, adjusted or deleted.

c) CLAUSES NORMALLY DELETED:
    6)    Other cargoes.
    7)    Option of other loading ports (see also clause 3)
    8)    Reductions.
    10)    Lighterage.
    15)    Time not to count.
    23)    Final orders.
    24)    Tillbury docks and Avonmouth.
    41)    Fenders.

d) CLAUSES NOT CONTEMPLATED IN THE CENTROCON CP AND USUALLY ADDED AS RIDER CLAUSES:
    1)    Notice of Readiness presentation clause WIBON, WIPON, WIFPON, WICCON.
    2)    Not always afloat but safely aground (NAABSA) clause.
    3)    Necochea swell clause.
    4)    Congestion clause re vessel being detained by Coastguard authority at
        c). Zone or Recalada due congestion at up-river loading ports.
    5)    Inspection of hatches prior to loading clause.
    6)    Cargo separation clause.
    7)    Cargo fumigation clause.
    8)    Overtime clause.
    9)    Use of ship’s gear and winchmen (see item f below).
    10)    Clause re vessels insurance.
    11)    Clause re extra insurance on cargo due to vessels age.
    12)    Clause re taxes, dues, etc. levied on cargo (charterers).
             Clause re taxes, dues, etc. levied on vessel (owners).
             Clause re Argentine freight tax (owners, if applicable).
    13)    P&I bunkering clause.
    14)    War risk clauses (CSUK).
    15)    Clause stipulating CP subject to Hague-Visby rules.
    16)    Cesser clause.
    17)    New Jason clause.
    18)    New “both to blame” collision clause.
    19)    General paramount clause.

e) ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
    Arbitration clause: CP’s should be signed abroad in order to avoid arbitration according to Argentine law in Argentine courts.

 
Presentation of NOR prior to commencement of laydays
If circumstances permit, this should be done in working hours (see clause 13) not less than 12 hours before laydays commence in order to take full advantage of the first lay day.

NOTICE OF READINESS: This must be presented immediately on arrival.
    a)    On berthing if the berth is free.
    b)    From the roads if the berth is not free.
    c)    From Zona Común, Recalada or elsewhere if detained by Coastguard authority or otherwise prevented from proceeding on passage to the loading port. If in any doubt, the notice should be presented. Should the vessel be detained the steaming time from the place of detention to the loading port is not counted as laytime.
    d)    Bills of lading. Should shippers present only one B/L for the entire cargo, then the names of the actual loading ports should be recorded on the bill, together with the date of completion of loading at the last port.
    e)    Vessels loading grain are required to appoint a Head Tally Clerk who acts as a liaison between the Master and the Shippers during loading. Unless otherwise specified, the clerk is considered as being for Owners account.
    f)    Winchmen. The charter party makes no reference to winchmen, and a clause should be inserted stating that winchmen, if used, are for charterers account both at loading and discharge ports or vessels cranes to be at Charterers disposal at load and discharge ports. Vessel’s crew to drive winches/cranes if so permitted by local regulations, otherwise winchmen/craneman to be provided by Charterers at their cost.
    g)    Loading port orders. When a vessel is fixed with charterers option to load within the full range of Argentine ports, it is advisable to insert Orders for first loading port shall be given within 48 hours of receipt of written or telegraphic applications by the Master or vessels Agents in Buenos Aires to Charterers or their Agents in Buenos Aires, such application to be made 96 hours before vessel is due to pass off Maldonado (or equivalent), otherwise all time lost to vessel through awaiting orders shall be reckoned as loading time, or in the event of the charter being cancelled, paid for at the stipulated demurrage rate. Should the vessel already be discharging at an Argentine port, orders, for first loading port or place shall be given within 24 hours after receipt of written application by the Master or vessels Agents to Charterers or their Agents in Buenos Aires, such application to be made 48 hours before expected completion of discharge. The words in the standard form ‘free pratique’ should be replaced by the words ‘Notice of arrival by any suitable means’.
    h)    Agency fee. It is usual to add a clause to the effect that Agency fees at the loading port shall be as per the ruling tariff.
    i)    Stamp tax. Charter parties signed locally are subject to a Stamp Tax.