Port Call activities

I’m interested in vessel port calls. What activities do vessels generally perform during their port visits? Which parties are involved?

Vessels perform a range of activities during their port visits, commonly referred to as port calls. These activities are essential for the efficient operation of the shipping industry and involve multiple parties. Some of the general activities that vessels perform during their port calls include:

  1. Loading and unloading of cargo: The primary purpose of a port call is often to transfer cargo. This can involve loading, unloading, or transshipment of goods, such as containers, bulk cargo, and vehicles.
  2. Bunkering: Vessels refuel during their port calls. Bunkering is the process of supplying fuel (bunker fuel, marine gas oil, or more recently, liquefied natural gas) to ships for their propulsion and on-board power generation.
  3. Crew changes: Port calls provide opportunities for crew changes, as crew members typically work on a rotation basis. New crew members will board the ship, while others will disembark to return home or take a break.
  4. Provisions and supplies: Vessels resupply essential items such as food, water, and spare parts during port calls. These provisions are crucial for the well-being of the crew and the smooth operation of the ship.
  5. Maintenance and repairs: Port calls offer a chance to perform routine maintenance or repairs that cannot be done while the ship is underway. This can include tasks like hull cleaning, painting, and mechanical work.
  6. Inspections: Various inspections may be conducted during a port call, such as safety, security, and environmental compliance checks. These inspections are carried out by port authorities, classification societies, or flag state inspectors.
  7. Customs and immigration: Port calls require vessels to clear customs and immigration, which involves providing necessary documentation, declarations, and visa arrangements for the crew.

Several parties are involved in port call activities, including:

  1. Shipping companies: The vessel owners or operators are responsible for the overall management and coordination of port calls.
  2. Port authorities: Local port authorities manage and oversee port infrastructure, facilities, and services, ensuring smooth operations and compliance with local regulations.
  3. Terminal operators: These entities manage and operate cargo handling facilities such as container terminals, bulk cargo facilities, and storage areas.
  4. Ship agents: Ship agents represent the vessel owner or operator in a port and coordinate with local authorities and service providers for various activities during the port call.
  5. Stevedores: Stevedores are responsible for the loading and unloading of cargo, as well as other cargo-related activities.
  6. Bunker suppliers: Companies that provide fuel to vessels during port calls.
  7. Maritime service providers: These include businesses offering provisions, repairs, maintenance, waste disposal, and other essential services.
  8. Customs and immigration officials: Government agencies responsible for regulating and enforcing customs and immigration laws.
  9. Classification societies and flag state inspectors: Organizations that perform inspections to ensure the vessel’s safety and compliance with international standards and regulations.

we should not forget - ship suppliers of course!

The parties involved in vessel port calls include the vessel’s crew, the port authority, cargo handlers, cargo represantives, cargo owner, suppliers, shipchandlers, stevedores, customs and immigration officials, pilots, tugboat operators, surveyors, and other service providers. In addition, there may be representatives from the vessel’s owner, charterer, or other interested parties, such as agents and brokers. Each of these parties plays a critical role in ensuring a safe, efficient, and successful port visit.

Over 20 bilateral transactions take place once the vessel approaches the port. I think Ali has given an exhaustive list of players that take part in these transactions. What I would like to add that the level coordination among involved parties is nowhere near the ideal. A lot of time, energy and resources are wasted due to lack of proper collaboration tools and digitalization.

Would be great to map out all relations and interactions that take place among these players, in detail, find synergies and build solutions around those to facilitate a more efficient collaboration.

@chingiz here you can see the overall picture of the process:

During a vessel’s port call, various activities take place to ensure efficient cargo handling, crew management, and vessel maintenance. These activities include loading and unloading of cargo, bunkering (refueling), provisioning (supplying with food, water, and other essentials), waste disposal, and crew changes. Key parties involved in a port call encompass the ship’s crew, port authorities, stevedores (cargo handlers), ship agents, customs and immigration officers, and other service providers, such as tugboats and pilots. In a nutshell, a vessel’s port call is a complex orchestration of multiple activities performed by various stakeholders, which ensures seamless cargo operations, maintains the vessel, and addresses the needs of the crew.