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What does it mean when a shipment is “on deck”?

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When a shipment is “on deck,” it means that the cargo or goods have been stowed and placed on the open deck of a vessel, such as a ship or a boat, for transportation. This term is commonly used in the context of marine shipping and is particularly relevant when dealing with certain types of cargo or when specific shipping arrangements are made.

Here are some key points to understand about the term “on deck” in shipping:

Stowage on the Deck: Cargo that is designated as “on deck” is loaded and secured on the exposed deck of the ship rather than being placed in the ship’s enclosed cargo holds. The decision to stow cargo on deck is based on various factors, including the nature of the cargo, space availability, and special handling requirements.

Cargo Types: Some types of cargo are commonly stowed on deck for various reasons. For example, certain oversized or heavy cargo, machinery, cars, or containers with hazardous materials may be stowed on deck to facilitate easier loading and unloading or to meet safety regulations.

Weather Exposure: Placing cargo on deck exposes it to weather conditions, such as rain, seawater, and sun. Therefore, when sensitive or weather-vulnerable cargo is involved, additional protective measures may be taken to minimize potential damage.

Bill of Lading Notation: The “on deck” status of a shipment is typically indicated in the bill of lading, which is a legal document issued by the carrier that serves as a contract of carriage and a receipt for the goods. The notation “on deck” informs all parties involved in the shipment about the specific location of the cargo on the vessel.

Carrier’s Responsibility: When cargo is stowed “on deck,” the carrier assumes responsibility for its proper handling, securing, and protection during the voyage. The carrier must take measures to prevent damage or loss of the cargo due to weather conditions or other hazards associated with being on the open deck.

Shipment Visibility: Importers, exporters, and other stakeholders can track the status of their shipment, including whether it is “on deck,” through the carrier’s tracking system or by contacting the shipping company.

It’s important for shippers and consignees to communicate any specific requirements or concerns regarding cargo stowage with the shipping company or carrier. Understanding whether a shipment is “on deck” helps stakeholders be aware of the unique aspects and considerations related to the transportation of their goods.

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