A new time charter clause for slow and super slow steaming will be published shortly by BIMCO. The clause was adopted by the Documentary Committee in November subject to the drafting team conducting a pre-publication review of some of the key features of the clause. The team met in London on 30 November and made a number of improvements to the layout and structure of the clause. The clause will now be circulated to all Documentary Committee members before being published by Special Circular along with explanatory notes later this month.
The Clause deals with a number of potentially difficult technical and legal issues as it is designed to cover all types of ships and trades from the container to the bulk sector. The technical aspects have been resolved and clarified with the assistance of engine designers Wartsila and MAN Diesel. Two types of slow steaming are contemplated by the Clause: Slow steaming down to a level which would not require the owners to make any modifications to the engine – basically the cut-out point for the engines auxiliary blowers; and, should the owners and charterers agree that the vessel can slow steam to a greater degree, then an additional optional provision is given to deal with “ultra” slow steaming – which will apply only in a few cases.
In all cases the master retains the right to refuse to slow steam as the right of the charterers to order slow steaming is subject to the obligations of the master in respect of the safety of the vessel, crew and cargo. The Clause also distinguishes between liner and tramp trades to the extent that in scheduled liner trades due despatch obligations do not generally apply under bills of lading – therefore the final two provisions of the Clause which deal with due despatch obligations do not apply in the liner trades.
Having completed the time charter Slow Steaming Clause, the Working Group has now turned its attention to voyage charters and is developing a virtual arrival clause. A first draft should be ready to be reviewed by the Documentary Committee in April next year.