When once a tramp steamer has sailed with cargo out wards she rarely knows what will be her next destination, or when, or on what voyage she will return.
The operating expenses of a tramp steamer are very low on account of its slow speed and large ratio of net to gross tonnage. 'rho some few companies possess veritable fleets of tramps, ownership is not as a rule concentrated in large companies. The tramp steamer is not regarded as a common carrier. Each contract for the carrying of freight places the owner of the vessel in the position of a bailee to trans port as a private carrier for hire.
The ship thousands of vessels traveling the seas and approaching ports, where, after unloading, they will be looking for cargo, a distinct business has developed with the object of bringing shipper and carrier together. The ship broker by means of cable and telegraph is constantly informed of the movements of vessels and for a commission or brokerage provides vessels with cargo and also ship pers with transportation facilities.
More than 24,000 tramps are moved from one port to another every year thru the agency of ship brok ers. The ship brokerage business, like the marine insurance business, is centered in England, particu larly in London. Rotterdam is also an important center, as was Hamburg, before the war. The large proportion of British tonnage to the total tonnage of the world, the concentration of many raw products markets in England and also the fact that the English coal furnishes a welcome return cargo, so that ships never need to leave in non-freight paying ballast, are responsible for the leadership of Great Britain in this respect.
12. The charter "charter party"— charta a legal instrument by which a ship owner leases a ship, or sometimes part of a ship, for a given journey or for a set period of time. The document is made out in duplicate, each party to the transaction receiving a copy.
Charter parties differ considerably according to the trade and the customs of the port. In order to bring a certain uniformity in the provisions, various ship owners' associations have agreed upon the forms to be used. The Ship Owners' Association of the Pacific
Coast has adopted a number of standard charters. The steam schooner charter party and the Pacific Coast lumber charter are examples. Such uniform charters can be found, also, abroad. The uniform River Plate charter party is an example of such a standardized charter applying to trade between Liver pool and the River Plate.
A "trip charter" is a contract for a certain voyage and may cover either a single or a return trip. Under a trip charter the payment may be in a lump sum or, more usually, at a certain rate per ton of cargo, or in the case of wheat, per bushel of wheat. Usually the owner pays all expenses of operation, including the port charges.
In the case of a "time charter" the shipper pays on the basis of a ship's tonnage at a certain rate per month, and in addition he usually pays for the fuel and the port charges. The owner pays the crew and keeps the ship in good repair.
Time charters present the disadvantage to the ship per that each day's delay en route or in the harbor of departure and of destination means an increase in expense. On the other hand, the ship owner must protect himself against excessive delays if he is operat ing under a trip charter. The number of "lay days" is therefore indicated in the agreement. Should this number of lay days available for loading and unload ing be exceeded, the owner has a claim to demurrage at a stated rate per day. Sometimes this demurrage is calculated at a fixed rate per registered ton and at other times, as in the "uniform River Plate charter party," at the rate of one hundred pounds per day for detention of ship if caused by consignee's not taking delivery as fast as steamer can discharge.
The number of lay days allowed differs according to the kind of merchandise carried and the character of the trip. Each kind of work has its custom. In many cases the shipper receives "dispatch money" when the ship is loaded or unloaded in less than a specified period of time.