Who are they?
A Shipbroker sorts the pieces of this jigsaw, acting as an link between the ship owner or operator and the charterer (cargo owner).
What do they do?
They will pair a cargo with a ship, assist in negotiating and finalising the terms and conditions of the deal, and finish off by sending out a recap, often accompanied by a charter party (contract). The whole process can take time and needs good contacts to find out what is going on where and which ships are open, or available, at any one time.
A second type of shipbroking sees the broker acting as the link between the buyers and sellers of ships. The sale & purchase broker, as he/she is known, will discuss opportunities and market trends with shipowners, report on sales, value ships, calculate freight earnings, advise on finance and try to find ships for specific employment opportunities.
While there are many shipbroking centres around the world – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Oslo, New York and Hamburg, to name a few – many shipbrokers are based in and around London, UK. It is estimated that London’s 700 shipbroking companies account for around half of all tanker and 30%-40% of dry bulk chartering business.
Ship brokers can be represented by the Federation of National Associations of Ship Brokers & Agents (FONASBA). They keep a close watch on all developments of interest or concern to the ship broking role and takes action to ensure that those interests are protected. FONASBA works to support its ship agent and broking members in their professional work. They are based at the Baltic Exchange in London.