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Modern Ship Stowage is a comprehensive manual describing the basic principles of stowing sea-borne cargoes. It has been prepared to promote the safe carriage of American export and import goods, and supersedes Miscellaneous Series No. 92, Stowage of Ship Cargoes, issued by this Bureau some 20 years ago, when, as at present, the United States Merchant Marine was being rapidly expanded.

Since the publication of the earlier volume, there have been noteworthy developments in connection with the handling, stowage, and safe carriage of ocean cargoes. Many new types of equipment have been introduced to speed up loading and discharge, new types of vessels and improved cargo-handling facilities have been developed, the carriage of refrigerated cargoes has greatly increased, and new methods have been perfected to protect cargoes against marinemoisture damage-probably the greatest single cause of ocean-cargo losses and claims. The Bureau has received numerous requests for a new and up-to-date volume describing recent progress in these fields.

The literature on stowage is extremely limited; the need for information on the subject is increasing. The shipbuilding program of the United States Maritime Commission is modernizing the United States Merchant Marine and enlisting the services of many new officers and men. American vessels are entering new and unfamiliar trades and carrying commodities in connection with which the ships' officers require stowage information which will enable them to prevent damage. Strategic materials needed for defense must be stowed and transported with expert care so that they will be landed in condition for immediate use. Temporary shortage of ocean-shipping space at this time intensifies the need for data on stowage factors which will assist those in charge to fill their vessels to maximum capacity.

The Bureau acknowledges the assistance of various steamship companies which provided information on their methods of loading, stowing, and discharging various cargoes and furnished stowage factors for commodities carried in their particular trades. Acknowledgment is also made for the material and suggestions provided by the manufacturers of cargo-handling equipment and installations for marine-moisture control, and to Captain I. M. Holt, Marine Superintendent of the United States Maritime Commission, and Captain Thomas Blau, of the Grace Line, for their careful reading of the manuscript and the many suggestions they were able to give as a result of their long experience as shipmasters. The present volume has been prepared in the Division of Industrial Economy by Joseph Leeming, with the assistance of Miss Josephine Flaherty, reviewed by A. E. Sanderson, under the general supervision of Thomas E. Lyons.

It is believed that this handbook will be helpful to steamship operators and their staffs, to ships' officers and deck personnel, and to exporters and importers, for all of whom it provides information on

present-day cargo-handling and stowage methods and suggestions for the safer handling and carriage of the many commodities that move in international trade.

As this work was prepared prior to the national emergency and the declaration of war, the attention of the reader is invited to statutory authority, executive orders, emergency regulations, and other temporary war-time measures which may have an effect upon the procedures set forth herein. During the emergency the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce offers its facilities to assist readers in keeping informed of new regulations.


CARROLL L. WILSON, Director, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce.


The use of trade names throughout this text is to secure accurate descriptions indicating important stowage factors. The use of such trade names does not in any sense indicate recommendation of, or sponsorship for, the trade-marked articles so mentioned.





Stowage is the art of placing cargo in a vessel for transportation by water. That the ability to stow goods skillfully and properly is an art, which is generally acquired only after a considerable period of experience with many types of cargo, will readily be attested by anyone who, afloat or ashore, has had intimate contact with the operation of ocean-going vessels. Those in charge of stowing a ship must take a number of factors into account. These include stowage of the cargo so the vessel will carry the maximum volume and weight under prevailing circumstances; stowage to prevent damage to the cargo; stowage to prevent injury or danger to the ship or the ship's crew; and stowage that will permit the cargo to be unloaded with the least possible delay at the port or ports of discharge. These, and numerous other related factors, are discussed in detail in the following



The responsibilities and liabilities of the shipowner with respect to the handling, loading, and stowage of cargo are defined primarily in the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1936, and the Harter Act of 1893. (See appendix, page 430.)

The Harter Act (section 3) provides that if a shipowner has exercised due diligence to make his vessel "in all respects seaworthy and properly manned, equipped, and supplied," neither the vessel, its owners, agents, or charterers shall be held responsible for damage or loss resulting from faults or errors in navigation or in the management of the vessel. At the same time, the Act states that any clauses inserted in bills of lading or shipping documents relieving the shipowner, manager, agent, or master from liability for loss or damage "arising from negligence, fault, or failure in proper loading, stowage, custody, care, or proper delivery" of cargo shall be null and void and of no effect. Thus, one of the principal purposes of the Harter Act was to prevent shipowners from evading their obligation properly to load, stow, care for, and deliver cargo carried on their vessels. With a view toward developing uniformity of the rules governing the obligations and liabilities of shipowners under a bill of lading, a code of rules was drawn up by the Maritime Law Committee of the International Law Association in 1921. These rules, known as the "Hague Rules," established technically the liabilities and rights of shippers and ocean carriers. They were reissued with some amendments in 1922, and were then placed before the International Confer


ence on Maritime Law, at Brussels, in 1922. The delegates at the Conference unanimously recommended the adoption of a draft convention embodying the Hague Rules as the basis of a convention between the participating countries. In accordance with these recommendations, the rules have been given statutory force with certain amendments in various countries, and form the basis of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Acts of Great Britain and the United States.

It may be noted that the United States Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 936 (sec. 12), states that: "Nothing in this act shall be construed as superseding any part of" the Harter Act, "or of any other law which would be applicable in the absence of this act, insofar as they relate to the duties, responsibilities, and liabilities of the ship or carrier prior to the time the goods are loaded on or after the time they are discharged from the ship."

The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 936, provides that: "The carrier shall properly and carefully load, handle, stow, carry, keep, care for, and discharge the goods carried." According to the preamble of the act: "Every bill of lading or similar document of title which is evidence of a contract for the carriage of goods by sea to or from ports of the United States, in foreign trade, shall have effect subject to the provisions of this act." In other words, the act was originally designed to apply to vessels in foreign trade only. It is permissive, however, for coast wise and intercoastal carriers to incorporate the provisions of the act in their bills of lading and in actual practice this usually done. (See sec. 13 of the act, which is quoted in full in the appendix.)

It is clear, from the foregoing, that responsibility for proper stowage rests primarily upon the shipowner and on the master as his representative. This is the case, unless there is an agreement to the contrary. Such agreements are permissible in the case of private carriers. Also, in the case of common carriers, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 1936 (sec. 6), states that:

A carrier, master or agent of the carrier, and a shipper shall, in regard to any particular goods be at liberty to enter into any agreement in any terms as to the responsibility and liability of the carrier for such goods, and as to the rights and immunities of the carrier in respect of such goods, or his obligation as to seaworthiness (so far as the stipulation regarding seaworthiness is not contrary to public policy), or the care or diligence of his servants or agents in regard to the loading, handling, stowage, carriage, custody, care, and discharge of the goods carried by sea: Provided, That in this case no bill of lading has been or shall be issued and that the terms agreed shall be embodied in a receipt which shall be a nonnegotiable document and shall be marked as such.

A private carrier is, in general, a vessel that is chartered for a special cargo or voyage or to a special person or company, as, for example, a tramp vessel chartered to carry a full cargo of coal or grain. A common carrier, on the other hand, "is one who undertakes for hire to transport the goods of those who may choose to employ him from place to place. He is in general bound to take the goods of all who offer" (Liverpool & G. W. S. Co. vs. Phenix Ins. Co. (The Montana), 129 U. S. 437, 9 Sup. Ct. 469, 32 L. Ed. 788), as, for example, regular liners or "any ship that carries on business for all, and by advertisement or habit carries goods for all alike" (21 How. 22, 16 L. Ed. 41).

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