Chartering (shipping)

Chartering (shipping)

Chartering is an activity within the shipping industry. In some cases a charterer may own cargo and employ a shipbroker to find a ship to deliver the cargo for a certain price, called freight rate. Freight rates may be on a per-ton basis over a certain route (e.g. for iron ore between Brazil and China) or alternatively may be expressed in terms of a total sum - normally in U.S. dollars - per day for the agreed duration of the charter.

A charterer may also be a party without a cargo who takes a vessel on charter for a specified period from the owner and then trades the ship to carry cargoes at a profit above the hire rate, or even makes a profit in a rising market by re-letting the ship out to other charterers.

Depending on the type of ship and the type of charter, normally a standard contract form called a charter party is used to record the exact rate, duration and terms agreed between the shipowner and the charterer.

Time Charter Equivalent is a standard shipping industry performance measure used primarily to compare period-to-period changes in a shipping company's performance despite changes in the mix of charter types.

Charter types

  • A voyage charter is the hiring of a vessel and crew for a voyage between a load port and a discharge port. The charterer pays the vessel owner on a per-ton or lump-sum basis. The owner pays the port costs (excluding stevedoring), fuel costs and crew costs. The payment for the use of the vessel is known as freight. A voyage charter specifies a period, known as laytime, for unloading the cargo. If laytime is exceeded, the charterer must pay demurrage. If laytime is saved, the charter party may require the shipowner to pay despatch to the charterer.[1]
  • A time charter is the hiring of a vessel for a specific period of time; the owner still manages the vessel but the charterer selects the ports and directs the vessel where to go. The charterer pays for all fuel the vessel consumes, port charges, and a daily hire to the owner of the vessel.[2]
  • A bareboat charter or demise charter is an arrangement for the hiring of a vessel whereby no administration or technical maintenance is included as part of the agreement. The charterer obtains possession and full control of the vessel along with the legal and financial responsibility for it. The charterer pays for all operating expenses, including fuel, crew, port expenses and P&I and hull insurance. In commercial demise chartering, the charter period may last for many years; and may end with the charterer acquiring title (ownership) of the ship. In this case, a demise charter is a form of hire-purchase from the owners, who may well have been the shipbuilders. Demise chartering is common for tankers and bulk-carriers.[3]

(In the context of the leisure industry, the term "demise charter" will rarely be heard. Bareboat yacht chartering will typically be the short-term hire for only a few weeks or even less. Here, the owner will supply the yacht in seaworthy order, fully fuelled and possibly revictualled. The yacht may be hired as one of a flotilla; and at least one yacht may be manned by an employee of the owner. At the end of the hire period, the charterer will be expected to pay for the fuel used).


Further reading

  • Huber, Mark (2001). "Ch. 9:Chartering and Operations". Tanker operations: a handbook for the person-in-charge (PIC). Cambridge, MD: Cornell Maritime Press. ISBN 0-87033-528-6. 
  • Turpin, Edward A.; McEwen, William A. (1980). "Ch. 18:United States Navigation Laws and Ship's Business". Merchant Marine Officers' Handbook. Centreville, MD: Cornell Maritime Press. ISBN 0-87038-056-X. 

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