An independent surveyor is a disinterested third party who observes the discharge of food from a ship at the port. The surveyor prepares a report called a discharge (ex-tackle) survey which documents the condition of the food, amount delivered against the bill of lading, and the cause and nature of any shortages or damages to the food while it is in the control of the shipping company.

When there is a Through Bill of Lading, an independent surveyor carries out the survey at the time the shipping company transfers custody of the food to CARE or its counterpart at a designated warehouse.

An independent surveyor should also be used when food has been stored in a port warehouse for later dispatch to a CARE or a counterpart warehouse or directly to a distribution site. In this case the survey report is called a Delivery Survey Report. Delivery surveys are primarily used to fix responsibility for losses during the period of time food is in the custody of the port and in transit to an inland warehouse.

The surveyor must know how to insure that food moves through the port with the fewest possible losses and, when losses do occur, what to include in a survey report in order to substantiate a claim against a shipping company or port.

In addition to ex-tackle and dispatch surveys, some surveyors can also perform clearing and forwarding activities. Some even have lab facilities to test food suspected of being unfit for human consumption. The types and quality of services offered by surveyors must be examined by each country office and contracts must be drawn up detailing the specific responsibilities expected of the surveying company.

Time and Place of the Discharge Survey

In order to assign responsibility for losses while the food is in the custody of the shipping company, the surveyor must examine the food while stowed in the hatches of the ship during discharge and while it is being discharged from the vessel to the dock.

If food is off-loaded from the carrier onto a lighter at the request of the shipping company, the survey would take place at the time the food is discharged from the lighter to the dock. If CARE has requested the lighter, the survey report should be prepared when the food is discharged from the ship into the lighter. If food is loaded directly from the vessel’s hold onto trucks or rail cars for transport directly to CARE or counterpart warehouses, the survey must take place at the time of loading onto the vehicles.

Format and Content of Discharge Survey Reports

The format for the ex-tackle survey report should be developed by the surveyor, CARE, and the counterpart. If necessary, obtain approval of this format from the donors. The length of the report should correspond to the size of the shipment and the extent of the losses incurred. For instance, if the surveyor observed no losses, the report could be quite short. On the other hand, if considerable losses and damages are noted, the surveyor's report should elaborate in full detail. At a minimum, the ex-tackle survey reports should include the following information:

  1. Data Regarding the Shipment
    • Name of vessel
    • Bill of Lading quantity in units and kilograms
    • Type of food
    • Stowage location in the ship
    • Port of discharge and number of berth
    • Port of registry and flag of vessel
    • Bill of Lading number and date
    • Contract numbers or shipment numbers on Bill of Lading
  2. Dates and Times
    • Request for survey
    • Vessel arrives
    • Vessel begins and ends discharge operations
    • Surveyor views the cargo
    • Cargo viewed by customs
    • Reconstitution of damaged food
  3. Amount and Condition of Food
    • Quantity of food discharged
      • Short landed (less than the Bill of Lading quantity)
      • Excess landed (more than the Bill of Lading quantity)
    • Quantity of food not discharged
    • Condition and amount
      • Good
      • Damaged (wet, infested, contaminated with oil, chemicals or insecticides)
      • Slack/torn
      • Infested
    • Quantity after reconstitution
    • Quantity determined unfit for human consumption
    • Quantity destroyed/donated/sold for animal feed
    • Total losses
    • Average weight (see above Inspection for Weight)
  4. Narrative Analysis
  5. The Survey Report should include a narrative analysis of how, when, and where losses occurred, who did what, and when. It should also describe:

    • The condition of the food in the hatches, containers, or barges including the condition of the hatches and nature of any damage
    • Adverse weather conditions from the ship’s log during loading, voyage, and previous ports of call, which may have a bearing on the damage
    • Quality of stevedore labor
    • Quality of discharging techniques
    • Acceptability of dock and storage areas for food
    • Quality of stowage on board the vessel.

    The surveyor's opinions should be clearly noted. For example, if the surveyor notes that 119 bags of cargo are wet at discharge, the report should contain information similar to the following:

    "Upon discharge of corn soya blend from hatch no. 4 on November 16, 1994, we noted 119 bags (as per the attached tally) discharged wet. These bags were segregated, and samples gave a positive saline reaction. No explanation was given by vessel personnel or is advanced by surveyors as to how the bags became wet. Commodity was analyzed by the Health Authorities on November 18, 1994, and declared unfit for human consumption. The remaining contents of 119 bags weighing 2,975 kg s were fit for animal consumption and donated to the XZY pig breeding farm."


    "Upon discharge of bags of sorghum grits from hatch no. 4 on November 16, 1994, 119 bags were discharged wet, torn and lack. These bags were segregated and tests gave a negative saline reaction. Vessel personnel advised that the bags could have been loaded wet as heavy showers occurred at the loading port of Corpus Christi. In our opinion, the bags became wet because of inadequate dunnage to protect the cargo. Bags werelying on the hatch floor and what little dunnage was available was green and oozing. A representative sample of damaged cargo was drawn by surveyors in the presence of ship's agents on November 16, 1994, and forwarded to the independent chemists, Jones and Jones, for analysis. Their report has yet to be received.”

    For all containerized shipments, the narrative section of the report must:

    • List the container and seal numbers
    • Advise whether the containers were in any way damaged
    • Document when and where the seals were broken and by whom
    • Document new seals put on the containers, by whom, and include a list of new seal numbers.
  6. Physical Counts/Stroke Tallies
  7. Surveyors employ tally clerks who are responsible for counting the actual number of bags and containers of food that are discharged in slings or pallets from a ship or the number of bags taken by laborers from port warehouses and put on trucks. Clerks often use a method called stroke/tallies for counting. The tally sheets prepared by clerks are the primary source documents used to prepared the survey reports.

  8. Daily Discharge Reports
  9. Daily discharge reports should be prepared by the surveyor and submitted each day to CARE or counterpart staff assigned to the port area. CARE staff should review the reports upon receipt and note the amount of losses in the shipment. The reports should indicate:

    • Sound, damaged bags or infested packages
    • Brief description of discharge practices
    • Actions initiated to minimize loss/damage.
  10. List of Persons
  11. A list of the names of persons who witnessed discharge and/or who can provide information about the date and time the shipping company transferred all responsibility for its cargo to CARE or its counterpart should be included in the survey report.

  12. Translations
  13. If survey reports are prepared in a language other than English, there must also be an official English translation of the report, signed by the surveyor.

    In some countries, reports are written in two columns per page--one column in the official national language and the other in English.

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