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Tips for transporting grain and corn

You may still remember the cargo ship “New Star” which sank off Russia’s eastern port of Nakhodka in waters close to Japan. The ship was owned by a Hong Kong-based company and had tried to deliver a cargo of rice, but a Russian buyer refused to accept the rice because of quality concerns. For fear of legal action, the Hong Kong company ordered the captain to flee Russia without legal permission. The Russian Coast Guard fired at least 500 rounds at the ship, causing it to eventually sink.

As the cause of this tragedy seems to be the bad quality of the rice, what do we need to take note of for transporting/insuring grain and corn or other similar cargoes, such as wheat and beans?

Apart from the importance of a Sales Contract, which both parties should observe with regard to their buying and selling, there is something additional that the buyer needs to take care of. In order to avoid any argument over the quality and quantity of the grain - something which commonly happens - the buyer usually employs a cargo surveyor to inspect the cargo before it is loaded on board or put into containers.

The duty of a surveyor includes, but is not limited to, the following main tasks:

  1. Provide professional advice on the hired vessel to ensure it is seaworthy and safe;
  2. Provide advice on the packing, if the grain is packed. It is common to pack the grain into linen or nylon bags of around 25 to 50kg per pack for big bulk shipment;
  3. Inspecting the shipping history and the condition of the vessel hatch is also important because a vessel hatch in good condition can provide a better environment for the grain. If cargoes other than grain were transported in the previous shipment, even if the vessel hatch was cleaned, there is still a chance of contamination and it may affect the quality of the grain;
  4. Inspect the contents of the grain to ensure the quantity is correct according to the buyer’s requirement as stated in the Sales Contract;

If the above precautions are observed and the reliable surveyor’s professional advice is taken, this will help minimise any risk of loss or damage to the grain being transported.

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