The first section of the Baltic Questionnaire includes general information related with the vessel’s identity. Let’s go though the requested points one by one.
This is a rather straightforward item. The name of the vessel is completed with the prefix “M/V” in front. M/V means “Motor Vessel” and it is the usual prefix used to describe bulk carriers and general cargo ships.
A vessel can change their name at any time during her life. Usually this takes place upon their sale, however it is not unusual a change of name to take place, even if the vessel remains under the same ownership. This information may be important for Charterers in order to see the vessel’s history.
This information can be found into the Continuous Synopsis Record which is onboard the vessel. This is issued by the flag administration of the vessel and should include/mention all changes in the history of the vessel.
This is also a straightforward point. Flag state is the state under whose laws the vessel is registered. As of 2015, the most popular flags worldwide are the Panama, Liberia and Marshall Islands. Other very known flags are the ones of Hong Kong, Singapore, Bahamas, Cyprus, Malta, Greece, China and others.
This information can be found in the TC description and also in the Continuous Synopsis Record. Additionaly, the flag state of the vessel is shown in the Safety Management Certificate (SMC) which is the certificate issued under the ISM Code (for more information about the ISM Code and the SMC please refer to Chapter 6, section 5.8).
This information shows the age of the ship and the country that she was built. This is one of the most important pieces of information since some Charterers and shippers or receivers wish to fix a vessel up to a maximum age or vessels built in a specific place (e.g. some prefer Japanese instead of Chinese built vessels).
The date and place of build are shown in the Certificate of Registry which is one of the main vessel’s certificates. It is issued by the flag administration of the vessel.
The name of the yard which built the vessel is also shown in the Certificate of Registry of the vessel. Number is the Hull Number that the vessel had during her building stage until her delivery. This information is not as important, except for newbuilds, and it sometimes completely omitted.
The hull number can be found in the Builder’s Certificate, however since this is usually onboard the vessel, you will have to ask the Master to provide it. Alternatively, the hull number is also mentioned in the vessel’s GA or Capacity Plans as well as the class status of the vessel.
This section includes two numbers - one is the Class registration number which is given to each vessel by the classification society and changes each time that the vessel changes her Classification society.
Classification societies are non-governmental organization which establish rules for the construction and the operation of the vessels and ensure that the vessels are built, maintained and operated according to these rules and in order to confirm this principal, as we will see below, they survey the vessels and issue specific certificates. Some of the major Classification societies are: Lloyds Register, ABS, Bureau Veritas, Det Norske Veritas and others.
The Class registration number is mentioned in the Certification of Classification (for more details about the vessel’s certificates please see Chapter 6, section 5.13).
The IMO/LR number which is required in the same section of the Baltic 99 is a unique number which is given to each vessel during her construction phase and remains permanent during her whole life regardless of any other changes with the vessel. This IMO number is the identity of the vessel and was introduced under the SOLAS convention in order for vessels to be specifically identified and reduce fraud.
The IMO number can be found in several documents/ certificates – for example in the Certificate of Registry and the SMC Certificate which is issued under the ISM code.
In point 1.3, above, we described what the flag is. In addition to flag, vessels are registered at a specific port within a country. For example, a vessel with Greek flag may be registered at the port of Piraeus. Or a vessel which is registered in Bahamas, her port of registry may be the Nassau.
The port of registry is mentioned in the vessel’s Certificate of Registry.
Here, the name and the contact details of the Owning company are inserted. Since the Owning companies may be special purpose companies registered in Liberia, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong etc, its contact details may be C/O (care of) the management company or any other related company which has interests in the special purpose Owning company.
The Certificate of Registry includes the name and the registered address of the Owners.
The vessels are usually managed by a company other than the Owning company. In order to be able to operate vessels, a management company should hold a Document of Compliance (DOC) under the ISM Code (for more information please see also paragraph 5.8 below). The DOC is issued from the registry of the vessel. For example, in order for a management company to be able to manage a vessel registered in Liberia, it may hold a DOC issued and approved from the Liberia registry.
The full style of the management company is mentioned in the SMC and DOC certificates. The contact details are provided by the company.
Disponent Owner is the party who charters-in a vessel either on time charter or bareboat charter and then relets/sub-charters the vessel to a third party either on voyage c/p or on time charter. Therefore, the disponent Owner is not the head Owner of the vessel but the time charterer or bareboat Charterer, who controls the vessel at that time. This section of the Baltic questionnaire asks for the contact details of the disponent Owner, whether he is time charterer or bareboat charterer and the date that he took delivery of the vessel.
This information is not publicly available and should be provided by the chartering or operations department of the disponent Owner.
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