Role of ship chandler

Role of ship chandler

Role of ship chandler

To manage a vessel is quite complicated and labor-intensive task. Ship itself, its crew and cargo are constantly under enhanced control from owner, charterer, ship’s manager and port authorities. Ship’s efficient work is dependent on well and effectively coordinated supply with provision, spare parts and other stores onboard. One of the most important link of ship supply chain is a ship chandler. In this arcticle we will address the role of ship chandler in the shipping business.

People distant to shipping business could ask: Who is a ship chandler? What does ship chandler do? In this article we will discuss such profession as “ship chandler”, its functions and role in the shipping business.

Go to the list of general ship chandlers

Origin of the profession “ship chandler”

The appearance of the profession “ship chandler” is concerned directly with the development of the shipping. However, it hasn’t found its contemporary form at once but just few decades ago.

The task of ship’s stores replenishment has appeared with the commencement of navigation thousands years ago while ancient navigators were able to venture on waters. There were small supplies required for short voyages. But with the increase of voyage distances and duration thorough handling were required to prepare ship for the risky trip. Therefore necessity in shore based specialists appeared who is responsible for the ship spares and stores replenishment.

With the increase of voyage distances and duration thorough handling were required to prepare ship for the risky trip.
The task of ship’s stores replenishment has appeared with the commencement of navigation thousands years ago

In the time of sailing ships supply was planned for a long-time period with excessive stock on board as far as duration of the voyage could be considerable different of that was planned owing to weather conditions. Nomenclature of the supplied goods was very different of that we see nowadays.

At that time the following goods were generally loaded on board: salted meat, bread, water, timber, rigging, spare sails, hemp, ropes, candle, tar, whale oil, tallow, different hand tools like axes and hammers, armament and gun powder etc…

In the absence of communications means it was impossible to make an inquiry prior to vessel’s arrival. And all works commenced as soon as vessel arrived at port. Ship supply could last for several days and even weeks! Obviously this is almost impossible nowadays as supply, as a rule, is already ready to load before vessel’s arrival.

Today we can number tens of ship supply companies in every big port. Certainly, there are most of all in the biggest port-hubs such as Rotterdam, Singapore, Shanghai, Istanbul and others.

There are companies offering supply with food and beverages only. There are ship chandlers who offer quite a wide range of goods, from the provision through general stores to mooring lines and anchor chains.

Ship chandlers can differ from each other by articles of the goods supplied as well as by the size of the Company. We can see small Companies servicing just one port, and big multinational Companies with presence in almost all big ports worldwide, who have complicated warehouses and logistics network. But there is one goal combining all the ship chandlers in essence – supply ships with the required goods, at the right time and at the right place.

So, who is a ship chandler?

Ship chandler is a specialist dedicated to supplying vessels with different ship stores and equipment. It’s a specialist who knows laws and requirements for the goods supply in specific port or ports or terminals for they can differ considerably.

Ship chandler is a mediator between Master of a vessel and store or warehouse. The main mission of ship chandler is to assist Master and Owner in provision and stores replenishment while vessel is at port, as well as clearing the documents and negotiating with local Authorities on behalf of Master.

While performing his (or her) duties chip chandler interacts with a number of people and organizations: master of vessel, owner or ship manager, customs office, sanitary authorities, classification societies, equipment manufacturers, workshops, ship agencies, stevedores etc.

What does ship chandler do?

As most of the jobs associated with maritime business ship chandler’s job requires 24/7 intense activity. And it commences with the inquiry or request for quotation (RFQ) received form vessel, directly from the Master or via Owner’s office. Ship chandler prepares offer or quotation and send to the Master / Owner for consideration. Then in case quotation is confirmed Purchase Order is placed. As soon as Purchase Order is received and acknowledged ship chandler commences to assemble goods for delivery to the vessel.

In contrast to supply of sailing ships stores delivered on board nowadays has widened considerably and can be divided into following departments: accommodation stores, deck stores, engine stores, cabin store, electrical stores, provision supply, medical supply, chemical stores, paint stores, lubricants, mooring ropes, anchors and anchors chains, spare parts (new or reconditioned) for different equipment.

Ship chandler is a mediator between Master of a vessel and store or warehouse. The main mission of ship chandler is to assist Master and Owner in provision and stores replenishment while vessel is at port, as well as clearing the documents and negotiating with local Authorities on behalf of Master.
Ship chandlers’ duties may embrace small ship repair, cleaning jobs, customs clearance, warehouse and logistics services providing ship Owners with complete service cycle

Besides ship chandlers’ duties may embrace small ship repair, cleaning jobs, customs clearance, warehouse and logistics services providing ship Owners with complete service cycle.

To perform their duties ship chandlers should be equipped with professional staff who knows local and international markets well. Appropriate licenses must be obtained in order to act as a professional ship chandler. Big Companies may consist of several departments with specific responsibilities: purchasing, sales, technical departments, logistics department etc…

Taking into consideration short port stay duration and limited timeframe for supply of stores Master and Owner must be sure the Company they apply to is reliable and financially standing partner. Enlisting in IMPA and ISSA Associations could be such a confirmation. Reinforcement of control from the governing authorities and increasing of the requirements in respect of safety, security и environment impose for Companies to be in compliance with these requirements. For this purpose Companies are subject to certification by Classification Societies on the ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 22000, OHSAS 18001 and other standards.

Also specialists supplying vessels should be acquainted with the following Conventions:

  • SOLAS – International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
  • MARPOL 73/78 – International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships
  • COLREGS – Convention of International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea
  • STCW – International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers
  • SOPEP – Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan
  • IMDG – Code International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code
  • ISM – Code International Safety Management Code
  • ISPS – Code International Ship and Port Facility Security Code
  • MLC – Maritime Labour Convention
It’s very important for ship chandlers to interact with all parties involved in order to benefit from new technologies implementation, supply chain optimization, value consolidation to reduce operation expenses and make win-win opportunities.
Ship chandlers have extensive contacts with different vendors and manufacturers in order to handle received inquiries promptly

Ship chandlers have extensive contacts with different vendors and manufacturers in order to handle received inquiries promptly. For this purpose reliable and effective inventory management IT system is required. There are a lot of different IT platform, websites and programs for spares and stores sale and purchase nowadays, but it is chosen by each Company particularly based on its own needs depending on supply value, quantity of vendors as well as quantity of buyers and nomenclature range of the goods supplied.

A lot of documentation must be issued and cleared by ship chandler with local port Authorities before goods can be delivered on board. Documents could differ depending on nature of the goods. Here are some of them:

  • Quality Certificates
  • Quantity Certificates
  • Test Certificates
  • Pro-forma Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Airway Bill, Bill of Lading or CMR (depends on mode of transport)
  • Export Declaration
  • Tax Invoice
  • Service Report (in case any service jobs were done)

But paper work is not the only daily actions that ship chandlers do. Besides the documents preparation delivery of stores on board of a vessel could be a challenge. Delivery on board is often taken place not only at pier but at anchorage. Therefore delivery must be arranged by supply boat through the supplier’s or ship agent’s supply boat or barge. In rare instances in case of emergency supply can be delivered to vessel even by helicopter far from shore.

Evidently ship chandlers’ job is quite complicated and requires outstanding efforts in order to complete their duties properly and on time.

Progressive boost of population and goods consumption force Countries to increase carriage of goods by sea. With the increase of port of calls necessity in ship chandlers will be in force. But probably we will see that requirements will change to the supply process in sense of more automation and digitization.

In recent decades we could see a number of merges in shipping business. Companies combine their financial and production resources and expertise, logistics and IT processes and know-how in order to withstand toughen competition.

Obviously, the gainer is the Company who can rapidly respond to market developments and actively implement new IT technologies. Nowadays there a number of e-commerce platforms exist to join Ship Owner and Supplier in one place in order to accelerate and facilitate the entire supply process.

To name just few of them:

Check for more e-commerce platforms for marine procurement in the article E-trade platforms for marine procurement

It’s very important for ship chandlers to interact with all parties involved in order to benefit from new technologies implementation, supply chain optimization, value consolidation to reduce operation expenses and make win-win opportunities.

Obviously, the gainer is the Company who can rapidly respond to market developments and actively implement new IT technologies.
Competitiveness will obviously be depend on suppliers’ capability to react to Owners’ demands and ability to “tune” and integrate their business into business of their Clients

Through the ancient times and until our days the role of ship chandler became stronger along with ships construction complexification, geographical navigation expansion and requirements from ship Owners. Nowadays role of ship chandlers became actual as never before thanks to shipping industry development and regulatory authorities’ requirements in regards to security, safety and environmental as well as implementing of new web-trading technologies. Ship chandler is now compulsory chain in ship management process. We cannot imagine the supply process without ship chandler involved.

With the help aim of new IT infrastructures and web trade platforms role of ship chandler will be closely associated with Owners through the entire supply process. And competitiveness will obviously be depend on suppliers’ capability to react to Owners’ demands and ability to “tune” and integrate their business into business of their Clients. For now, one thing is quite evident – ship chandler’s activity is still actual and will be inseparable from the entire ship supply business yet for a long time.


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