Ship owners and charterers cannot be present at every port their ship docks at, or watch over every deal secured for employment; there simply isn’t enough time if they want to build their business. But, as you would expect, they also do not want to wash their hands of the day-to-day operations of these multi-million dollar assets. The middle ground comes in the form of a Ship’s Agent, a person or firm who transacts all business on behalf and under the direction of a ship owner or charterer.
An agent’s remit can be extremely varied and often agents specialise in one field of expertise, the most common of which are liner agency and port agency, although agents can be found in freight forwarding, haulage, and warehousing. Agents’ expertise allows them to advise on and handle all types of cargo including containers, conventional, break-bulk and roll on-roll off. Jobs they might be asked to perform includes securing ship supplies, arranging crew changes, maintenance and repairs, husbandry, berthing, customs documentation and formalities.