SSA and tankers
“For tankers, time means money."
Tankers are vessels, often with a valuable cargo, that need to spend the shortest possible time in port. Loading and unloading is a 24-hour business. Our role is to act rapidly and that includes the flexible management of information flows between all relevant parties. SSA is the spider in the communication web, 24-7. In the captain’s office, the nerve centre of Silver Star Agencies, there is always a staff of seven: three for internal services and four boarding clerks/agents.
Standard information flows:
- a Pro Forma Disbursement Account, an estimate made by SSA of the costs incurred by a vessel for pilots, tugs, flatmen, harbour charges, waste disposal, etc.
- a Pre-Arrival Request with information about waste disposal, ISPS, a crew list, draught, etc.
- EDI message from SSA to the port authority via the Portbase port information system, indicating whether the vessel is permitted to travel to the terminal, the cargo, any hazardous substances and intended activity in the port.
- a notification mail from the vessel containing information about ETA, and for example whether the ship is first required to anchor.
The proactive approach at SSA ensures that all information is provided to the relevant parties, in good time. Standards are high. SSA reports to all parties, no questions asked. If a customer needs to request information from SSA, that means we are already too late. Equally, it rarely if even happens.
Specific tasks and information flows
As soon as the ship is moored at the terminal, one of the four boarding clerks at SSA (the field service) will board the ship. He will take with him a package of orders from the captain, and for every action taken will record the precise time: vessel secured, start of loading/unloading, etc. The boarding clerk also completes various forms: a store list, a crew list, a personal effects list, and listens to the captain’s requests. Does a crew member need to visit the doctor or dentist, for example? The boarding clerk also arranges waste collection and any repairs and coordinates bunkering (60-70% of all vessels bunker in Amsterdam) so that all these tasks are completed within the ship’s time in port.
When the vessel departs, the boarding clerk collects the cargo documents, completes the outgoing crew lists and organizes outward customs clearance. Following departure, the clerk transmits the compulsory EXS report via Portbase to the customs and port authority.
Twenty pairs of eyes
The boarding clerk is not only an immediate service provider for the vessel; he also represents the eyes and ears of the captain’s office. He is constantly alert and takes nothing for granted. If anything appears unusual or out of place, he asks questions and reports back. A boarding clerk needs twenty pairs of eyes. These skills make a real difference. For the customer, a competent boarding clerk more than earns back his fee. A charterer or ship owner is only able to operate efficiently – in a world where time is money – on the basis of the information we provide. He must be able to assume that that information will be available rapidly, up to date and reliable. That trust is the foundation stone for our business.”
Specific problems that can occur in the tanker business often relate to unclear paperwork, or the quality or quantity of the cargo. The only solution is a rapid response and extensive knowledge of for example the relevant loss adjusters firms. When it comes to repairs and possible spillages, the SSA boarding clerk is also immediately on the alert and ready and willing to act as mediator.
Cargo and vessels
Tankers that visit Amsterdam vary in length between 100 and 250 metres. The cargo above all consists of gas oil and petroleum, and to a lesser degree vegetable oil. Time in port will depend on the loading and unloading timetable and of course the volume of product to be transhipped.