Cover Image
close this bookCARE Food Manual (CARE , 1998, 355 p.)
close this folderChapter 6 - Port
close this folderI. Arrival and Discharge
View the documentA. Prior to Arrival
View the documentB. Arrival at Port
Open this folder and view contentsC. Cargo Discharge

A. Prior to Arrival

CARE's clearing and forwarding agents and port/customs officers must make certain that all necessary documents and authorizations have been filed and approved by government ministries to assure as smooth a discharge as possible. See Agreements and Contracts for information on certificates and clearances that may be required.

If food arrives before final approvals are given, the clearing and forwarding agent and CARE port officer may provide a letter of guarantee to the shipping agent and ship's captain, countersigned by authorized officials of the government, stating that the shipment may be discharged.

B. Arrival at Port

Once a ship arrives in port, the shipping company presents the ship's cargo manifest to port authorities for authorization to unload. The ship is then either directed to a port berth for clearance or, if the port is too shallow, food is off-loaded onto smaller vessels called lighters. Before the food is off-loaded, CARE, its counterpart or representative must insure that the ship's hatches are inspected and the ship captain's log reviewed to ascertain the condition of the food and weather conditions en route. Many countries require a representative from the Ministry of Health or other government agency to make a visual inspection and approve the discharge of the food.

If CARE or its counterpart takes custody and control of the food at port, the independent surveyor must be available prior to the unloading of the cargo. The surveyor must be allowed to inspect the hold to determine the condition of the food. If for any reason a shipping company prohibits inspection of food, the country office should immediately notify the CARE USA Procurement Office for U.S. food, or the local representative or Brussels office of Euronaid for European Union Food for non-emergency programs or ECHO for emergency programs. For other donors, notify their local representatives. In all cases, country offices should notify the CARE International member's headquarters to request their assistance. When there are problems with shipping companies, the CARE USA Procurement Office should be copied on all correspondence relating to non-U.S. donors.


To insure that food is properly examined, losses are identified and the party responsible for the loss is determined, the independent surveyor, a shipping company agent and a customs official must be available simultaneously to witness the discharge of the food from the ship.

Internal Control

CARE personnel must insure that discharge of food from the ship does not take place if an independent surveyor is not present. If so, the responsibility for any losses may be placed on CARE.

In addition to the three people on site examining the cargo, a CARE or counterpart employee and a clearing and forwarding agent should be at the port to oversee the actual discharge. Their responsibilities are to:

· Examine the condition of the vessel and food prior to discharge from the ship and witness the discharge of food to the dock and/or destuffing of containers

· Compare the amount of food on the bill of lading to the amount of food received in good condition, which is also being documented by the independent surveyor.

Whether the survey is done at port or at a CARE or counterpart warehouse, if food is shipped on a Through Bill of Lading, the agent of the shipping company must witness the discharge and sign the Independent Survey Report.

If the containers are destuffed at port or if customs inspects the food at port, a shipping company agent must be present when the container seals are broken. The customs representative must be present at the time the food is taken from the container to witness the physical count.

1. Lighterage

Lighterage is the method of discharging cargo from a ship onto a smaller, lighter vessel, which carries the cargo to the docks. Because the cargo has to be handled an additional time, the possibility of damage and loss is increased. Lighterage should be avoided whenever possible. The responsibility for losses when using lighters is determined by local laws and customs of the port. Generally, the organization requesting and paying for the lighters is responsible for related losses. If CARE requests the lighter, all losses resulting from its use are CARE's responsibility.

a. Bulk Cargo

Food shipped in bulk (not pre-packaged in the donor country) will either be bagged in the ship's hold and unloaded to the dock, or will be transferred to silo storage by vacuum equipment and rebagged by machine. When food is received in bulk, the shipment will also include a predetermined number of bags to package the food at the port after discharge from the ship.

When food is bagged by machine, country offices and counterparts, together with clearing and forwarding agents, independent surveyors, shipping company representatives and port officials, must insure that the bagging and calibrating equipment is in good working order and that port personnel accurately measure how much food goes into each bag.

Internal Control

Anytime food is bagged, country offices should instruct independent surveyors to pay close attention to the bagging process to assure standard weight.

b. Breakbulk

Breakbulk refers to food packed in individual bags or containers. Breakbulk cargo is unloaded from the ship by crane to the dock or by manual labor directly onto trucks or railcars for direct dispatch to CARE or its counterpart's warehouses, or moved to port storage (transit sheds) for later dispatch.

c. Containerized Cargo

Containerized cargo will either be destuffed at port or will go to a receiving warehouse for inspection and storage. A seal is placed on the container in the country of export so that no entry is possible without being detected. The seal numbers are recorded by container and accompany the Bill of Lading.

When containers are discharged from a vessel, the independent surveyor must tally and inspect the seal numbers during the unloading to insure the original seals have not been removed or tampered with. If the original seals are intact, the cargo is said to have traveled under "clear seal security."

If container seals appear broken or it appears there have been unauthorized entries into containers at the port, local laws may require that an official be present for the opening of the container. The local official should be asked to prepare a report which documents the investigation. A copy of the report should be retained in the shipment file.

Whenever there is evidence of tampering with seals or unlawful entry to containers, country offices must notify, in writing, port and customs officials, the local police, local donor representatives, the Procurement Section of CARE USA Headquarters, and the CARE International member who assisted the country office in procuring the food.