The thesis is dealing with legal issues that may arise in a course of chartering of vessels for the offshore special surveys (data collection). The offshore seismic data acquisition is used as the main example. However, a large part of the discussion can be equally relevant for the charter parties intended for other survey types (e.g., pipeline surveys, electromagnetic seabed sounding, and many others). The special survey operations are distinguished by use of the high technologies and, thus, expensive equipment. Most of these technical features are essential for fulfilling such tasks, and many of them are interrelated with issues of chartering a survey ship. Such agreements are most often based on the standard BIMCO’s (The Baltic International Maritime Conference) SUPPLYTIME 89 or SUPPLYTIME 2005 forms. The aim of the current research is, in general, to develop an understanding of possible legal implications of the use of SUPPLYTIME 2005 when chartering the special survey vessels
The survey is typically run for a client (e.g., an oil company), and the relationship between the entity acquiring the data and the client are regulated by the data acquisition contract. In turn, the entity acquiring the data is the charterer with respect to the discussed charter parties. The data acquisition contract always prescribes minimum “standards of work”, which set strict requirements on the work of the ship and the equipment (both belonging to the shipowner and to the charterer). The problems considered in the paper could be provisionally divided into two categories. Issues attributed to the first category are related to the essence of the charter party of survey ships and the notion of “vessel’s work”. The second category embraces the issues related to the “equipment”.
In general, it has been shown that the terms of SUPPLYTIME 2005 became less favorable to charterer in comparison to SUPPLYTIME 89. Considerable part of the outcomes of this research comprised of the findings related to the off hire. Firstly (i), it has been shown that in certain circumstances it is very difficult to fulfill the condition of “being prevented from working” under survey charters based on SUPPLYTIME 2005. Secondly (ii), it has been argued that such a cause for the vessel going off hire as failings and/or breakdown of equipment will be hardly found as a relevant cause to award the charterer to an off-hire, since such causes are not included in the wording of cl. 13 (a). It was demonstrated that the possibility that a court will find the condition (i) fulfilled and, at the same time, the cause (ii) falling within the scope of cl. 13 (a) is very questionable. This makes the charterer a vulnerable party in relation to the off hire. Possible ways to develop the standard form in connection with these and other issues were suggested.