This section describes the main technical characteristics of the vessel such as her dimensions, her weights, capacities, drafts and in general all the information required in order to evaluate a potential charter (i.e. if the vessel can call specific ports, what is the max. cargo quantity she can load etc). Let’s go through these sections in detail:
There are several types of bulker vessels and their type depends on their general specification, size, design and the cargoes they can load. For example, there are the “multi-purpose” ships which can load both bulk cargo as well as containers, or the general cargo ships. Also, in terms of size, bulk carriers are separated into handysize, supramax, panamax and capesize. Here, this specific type, which can also be found in the Class Certificate, is inserted.
This is the total weight of a ship when fully loaded with cargo, bunkers, lubricants, fresh water and other constants. Since the draught of the vessel increases as the deadweight increases, there is an international regulation (International Convention on Load Lines 1966 as modified by the Protocol of 1988 – for more information please refer to Chapter 6, section 5.13 of this guide) which draws what is the maximum draught that the vessel can reach in order to be safe in each part of the world. This is known as the Plimsoll lines or the load lines.
There are five load lines, which depend on the weather conditions and the salinity of the water, namely: Summer, Winter, Tropical, Fresh and Tropical Fresh. A maximum draft exists for each of these load lines and accordingly this results to a maximum deadweight. This table of the Baltic Questionnaire asks for the deadweight and drafts of each load line. This information can be found in the vessel’s Capacity Plan, however in some cases only the summer deadweight and draft are specifically included, in which case you will need to ask the vessel’s Master for a detailed analysis for the deadweight and draft information of the other load lines.
The last point which is required in this table and can also be found in the Capacity Plan is the vessel’s TPC at each draft/load line. TPC is the amount of deadweight (tons) which can change the vessel’s draft by one centimeter. This is an important point in chartering operations since with the TPC one can estimate what is the max. dwt at each specific draft (for example if a port restriction applies).
In order for the vessel to be able to transit the Suez and Panama canals and the St. Lawrence Seaway should comply with specific requirements mainly in regards with maximum allowed draft and dimensions.
For transiting the Panama and Suez Canal a certificate is also required and in case the vessel is classified as a ‘Panamax’ or ‘Suezmax’ she will be generally considered as fitted. For transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway, there is not a specific certification however for the vessel to be considered as fitted she must comply with the max. restrictions which are: 225.6 meters long, 23.8 meters wide and 8.1 meters in depth.
2.4.A. FOR PANAMA CANAL SUITABLE VESSEL STATE DEADWEIGHT ALL TOLD (METRIC TONS) ON 39FT 6INS (12.039M):
As described in point 2.2 each vessel has a specific max. deadweight at each draft. Therefore, the Baltic Questionnaire asks for what is the max. summer deadweight at a specific draft which at that time is the restriction for Panama Canal. The vessel’s Master can provide this information by doing some calculations by using the max. deadweight, the vessel’s draft and the TPC.
This is a very specialized technical question which is related with the construction characteristics of the vessel and the way that her keel is built.
Radius of the shell plating that joins the side shell to the bottom shell of the hull, measured at the midships section. Simply speaking, if there is not enough turn at the side keel of the vessel, a higher draft restriction may apply. In most cases, the vessel is not affected unless this is a specialized ship with flatter plating. In any case please ask the technical department or alternatively the vessel’s Master in order to double check and confirm.
2.5. FOR ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY SIZE VESSEL STATE DEADWEIGHT ALL TOLD (METRIC TONS) BASIS 26 FT (7.92M) FRESH WATER:
Similar to 2.4.A. point above but this refers to the max. deadweight basis the draft restriction at the St. Lawrence Seaway.
GT and NT mean “Gross Tonnage” and “Net Tonnage” and they refer to a ship’s internal volume, measured in tons. The volume of a ton is 100 cubic feet, or 2.83 cubic metres.
They were in common use in the olden days when cargo was stored in all the enclosed spaces of the ship and this measure used to calculate the volume of all the enclosed spaces as well as the enclosed spaces used for cargo.
The International GT/NT are based on the International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1969 and the figures can be found in the Certificate of Registry.
The Suez tonnages are mentioned in the Suez Canal Tonnage Certificate and it is used by the Suez Canal Authority. The Panama Canal tonnage which is popular as Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) is based on net tonnage, modified for Panama Canal purposes and can be found in the relevant Panama Canal certificate.
Finally, the British GT/NT is the initial measurement system used, known also as GRT and NRT, before it was replaced by the International convention 1969. Today, in chartering and operations, these figures are mainly used in order to estimate the port/canal expenses of the ship, while they are also used for determining manning, safety, and other requirements.
Length overall, which is usually abbreviated as LOA is the maximum length of the vessel from the outer point of the bow to the outer point of the stern, as measured parallel to the waterline. It is used in order to see any port/canal restrictions related with the length of the vessel or sometimes to calculate berth expenses at ports.
This information can be found in the vessel’s Registry Certificate and the General Arrangement Plan.
Usually abbreviated as LBP, this is the length of a ship along the waterline from the forward surface of the stem, or main bow perpendicular member, to the after surface of the sternpost, or main stern perpendicular member. When there is no sternpost, the centerline axis of the rudder stock is used as the aft end of the length between perpendiculars.
You can find this information in the General Arrangement Plan of the vessel.
After the LOA and LBP, two other important particulars are required. These can also be found in the vessel’s General Arrangement Plan.
The Extreme Breadth is the maximum beam of the vessel which is usually met amidships, while the depth moulded (or simply “depth”) is the distance from vessel’s keel to the deck.
Depth is standard and at any given time it is equivalent with vessel’s draft plus vessel’s freeboard.
2.10. DISTANCE (METRES) FROM WATERLINE TO TOP OF HATCH COAMINGS (OR TOP OF HATCH COVERS IF SIDE-ROLLING HATCHES) BASIS 50 PCT BUNKERS:
It is self-explanatory that this question asks the vessel’s Owner to advise what is the distance between the waterline to the hatch coaming or hatch cover in different ballast conditions (normal, heavy and light condition) and in different points of the ship (first hatch, middle hatch and last hatch).
This information should be taken by the vessel’s Master and it is usually required in ports where railed loading or discharge installations exist in order to make sure that the hatches height is sufficient for these installations to move.
2.11. DISTANCE (METRES) FROM KEEL TO TOP OF HATCH COAMINGS (OR TOP OF HATCH COVERS IF SIDE-ROLLING HATCHES) AT FULLY LADEN CONDITION:
Same as in point 2.10. above however it requires the relevant information taking into consideration that the vessel is fully loaded.
This information should also be provided by the vessel’s Master though it could also be extracted from vessel’s plans (not always available information) as the vessel’s distance from the summer waterline to the top of hatch coaming or hatch cover.
This information which requires Master’s input or technical dept’s advice. It may also be found in documents, like the vessel’s shipbuilding specification, however since the actual performance may differ, it is highly recommended to get Master’ advice.
By knowing the Mertric Tons of ballast water per hour that a vessel can load (ballast) or discharge (deballast), one can estimate the time for this operation.
This information is important especially in ports that loading/discharge is taking place in a few hours only and the ballast/deballasting may delay vessel’s schedule (since the ballast/deballast should take place simultaneously with cargo operations).
This information is usually found in the GA plan otherwise you can ask the vessel’s master to provide.
The distance from the keel to the highest point (which is usually the mast) is useful in cases that the vessel must transit under bridges or any other places that such limitations in the height exist.
Water ballast is loaded in the ballast tanks which are usually the double bottoms and top sides (hold’s wings) as well as in one or more cargo holds (depending on the vessel) which are used in case of heavy ballast.
This question asks you to provide information about the max. capacity of ballast tanks, max. water capacity of the relevant holds and also ask to specify which are the ballast holds of the vessel. This information can be found in the vessel’s Capacity Plan.
Each vessel has some constant weights onboard (crew, stores, lubricants, spares etc) and this figure should be inserted in this section.
This weight is used in order to estimate the maximum cargo quantity which can be loaded on the vessel after the constants are deducted from the DWT all told. Therefore, its a very important section.
This information is not predetermined and it may differ from time to time, therefore it would be better to be provided by the vessel’s Master.
The second part of this question refers to the fresh water and the Owners should insert the daily fresh water consumption (ask the Master to provide), the capacity of fresh water tanks (can be found in the capacity plan), capacity and daily production of evaporator (ask the Master to provide), normal fresh water reserve which is the quantity of fresh water that usually reserved on board the vessel (should be provided by the Master).
A shaft generator is a main engine system which can also produce electricity. The vessels which are equipped with this system can reduce the usage of the Auxiliary Engines and therefore reduce the bunker costs.
This information is therefore useful in case of time charter - especially long periods. This information should be provided either by the Master or by the operations/technical departments of the company.
Here the voltage and frequency of the electrical supply is required. Sometimes vessels are required to give power externally, i.e. in certain ports, and in this case the Charterers should be aware of the vessel’s electrical supply system.
This information can be found in the vessel’s electrical power distribution system plan however this plan is not easily available in which case this information will be provided by the vessel’s Master.
Also, if the vessel has an alternative electrical supply system, details should be mentioned. Alternative supply system exists when the vessel is able to take power and cover its needs from other sources (e.g. from shore at ports). Again, this information should be provided by the vessel’s Master.
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