New in steel pre-loading surveys procedure at Novorossiysk Commercial port (05.09.2000)


It is well known that different kinds of steel products are shipped from Russian ports and, in particular, from Novorossiysk. Ship-owners and ultimately their P&I insurers are therefore usually first in the firing line when steel cargo arrives at its destination. Before the shipment of steel products Ship Owners/P&I Clubs regularly commission independent pre-shipment survey of steel cargoes to ensure that bills of lading and/or mate’s receipts accurately describe the apparent condition of finished steel products, when they were accepted on board the vessel. But, honestly speaking, to have the game in hands the inspection of steel products is to be carried out by a skilled surveyor and the cargo is to be described carefully and authentically.

In respect of conducting steel preloading survey at Novorossiysk port we would like to highlight the situation, which presently takes place at Novorossiysk.

The cargo of finished steel products arrives at Novorossiysk port by railway  in apparent good condition, but due to careless handling and the fact that very often the cargo is stored in the open storage in the port, the condition of some cargo deteriorates very much. In these circumstances the condition of the cargo arriving at Novorossiysk port by railway considerably differs from that of the cargo loaded on board the vessel.

In August 2000 the port authorities faced several claims from the Cargo Shipper regarding deterioration of the cargo condition while in the port's custody. The port administration immediately took the action in order to protect own interests, but to our regret those were not the actions of improvement of handling technology. Generally all the actions taken were aimed to putting pressure on the surveyors who act on behalf of Ship Owners and their P&I Clubs and are involved in the cargo inspection both before and during loading operations. Now the port authorities are trying to put difficulties in the way of surveyors acting on behalf of the carriers enforcing surveying company to sign additional agreements, according to which it is prohibited for surveyors to make pictures at the port territory. Also, before conducting any inspection at the port territory the port authorities request to co-ordinate this inspection with cargo shippers and to receive from them written permission, which is preternatural for a surveyor acting on behalf of the Ship Owners. Moreover, any inspection of the cargo is permitted only in the presence of the port custodian. By this way the Port Administration makes it very difficult for the surveyor to perform the cargo inspection in the storages and warehouses before loading.

Our company like others who act on behalf of Ship Owners and their P&I Clubs has found itself in a rather difficult situation. But nevertheless we manage to avoid the pressure of Port Authorities. Now almost every vessel under loading operations is serviced by the team of surveyors, not by one as it had been before. As it has become impossible to conduct the inspection at the port warehouse every cargo unit is expected just before its loading on board in the presence of tallymen and stevedores of the port. The port labours are pointed to all the defects, which the cargo has and the receipts are issued according to which the remarks reflecting the apparent cargo condition are inserted into Bill(s) of Lading. In case of any dispute, having such a set of documents the surveyor of our company has a chance to prove with documents and in full volume that the above remarks reflect the real condition of the loaded cargo.  In case the inspection of the cargo is required we are kindly asking you to advise us beforehand, so that we could arrange all necessary formalities before a ship’s arrival.

 Finally we consider that even in such a situation all surveys carried out by our company will be conducted on the same high level as before. 


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