Cost-effectiveness is key to World Marine’s services
A ships’ agent represents a vital part in shipping operations, usually servicing charterers, ship owner, operators and so forth when the ship is at port. In essence, a ships’ agent is the extension of his principal’s office and related departments, at the area where the ship calls. As it is not feasible for any party to be represented globally with its own offices in every port, a ship owner/charterer (or other party which has an interest in a ship’s prospective port tall) chooses from the local port agents available, aiming to find the most suitable one to physically attend his vessel and ensure smooth operations in the port. An agent’s role includes accomplishing — in a timely manner — all ship formalities (certificates/declarations) and make settlements (port/light/berth dues/pilots/tugs/ immigration) with local authorities, before, during or even after the ship’s call.
The agent must provide up-to-date detailed information on port restrictions, conditions and traffic, as well as cargospecific information, cargo export documents, receipts and OBL (ocean bill of lading) issuance for a loading operation, OBL availability and copies, receivers’ arrangements to receive cargo for a discharging operation. A wider spectrum of services is performed by an agent including dealing with crew changes, spares clearance/ collection/delivery, repairs, provisions, water, bunkers, medical, underwater inspection, ship’s delivery (sellers/ buyers/ recycling).
All activities require an agent’s coordination for a smooth and timely attendance, as any process involves the interaction of several parties with local and international interests. Crew changes are common, so the agents must know port specifics regarding time needed to complete off-signers’ arrangements or requirements/visa/etc for on-signers, which nationalities require special arrangements, movements in port, and co-ordinate accordingly with immigration, principal/ manning agents and so forth to meet sailing prospects. Spares clearance/collection/delivery is also common, but clearance, delivery time, may vary. As certain ports are serviced through remote airports, also there are special packing rules for spares arriving from certain countries (wood packing/fumigation) and also special arrangements and co-ordination if the discharge port is suddenly changed due to congestion. Furthermore, an agent may be requested to provide port options guidance for a prospective ship delivery (sell/buy). In most cases, a pre-purchase underwater inspection is required so principals must be guided to an area with suitable draught. Local regulations for flag certificates, whether copies or originals accepted to enable sailing, other alternative options; these are all issues that an agent must deal with properly and in a timely manner, so as to accomplish a quick handover in a competitive market. It is this ‘multi-tasking’ of the ships’ agent that has often led to be called as a ‘protective’ agent.
World Marine, established in 1985, is today a major presence in the ships’ agents market in the Suez Canal, Egyptian ports and in ports in Hong Kong and China. Over the last 26 years, World Marine has handled a huge number of vessels which could not have been accomplished by a single operator. The company’s founders have been serving the shipping industry since the 1960s. World Marine’s co-ordinating office in Athens is also manned by seasoned seafarers. Local offices in Egypt, China and Hong Kong are run by carefully selected, many of whom have been with the company — and have served the shipping community — for many years. World Marine has therefore developed good contacts and links with the respective local parties in all ports. These relationships, and the company’s efficiency and expertise, are very important to ship operators. As a result, ship operators — regardless of their operating base — know that they can take advantage of World Marine’s relationships and expertise.
In Chinese ports, World Marine provides ‘prompt and costeffective’ port captain services, via its local offices/stations, established at Guangzhou, Shanghai, Qingdao, Dalian and Tianjin-Xingang. It can offer reliable guidance for efficient and spot-solutions to ships and cargo operations. The company, acting as a protecting agent, monitors developments in all Chinese ports and carefully chooses, from an evaluated performance network of local agents, the right agent to be utilized so as to accomplish the principal’s ship requirements with prompt and cost-conscious operations.
In Egypt, since the 1998 ships’ agent free market act, World Marine has been licensed to act as a sole/private agent. Since that date, the appointment/involvement of state ships’ agents is no longer compulsory. Therefore, the company now deals directly with port and related authorities, enabling it to provide a better service at a lower cost. Through its local offices established at key points in Egypt (Alexandria, Port Said, Suez and Cairo), World Marine can offer its competitive agency services to ships that transit the Suez Canal or call to load or discharge at any port/terminal in Egypt. Over the years, World Marine has developed a port information sharing system, enabling it to issue and distribute free of charge its own ‘port information guide’ booklets (also available on the web), a very useful tool.