Regular circumstances of work usually require certain actions to be performed on a ship entering a port (loading/unloading cargo, tugging, etc.). Concurrently with it, calling at a port may obviate the need for a number of auxiliary services to be rendered as well as certain formalities fulfilled and payments made. Some of the operations require a degree of preliminary preparation before the vessel's arrival while others, reversely, will not be complete until after its departure. The captain would find it supremely problematic, especially in least-known ports, to have to fulfill all the procedures of calling at a port without outside expert help. In order to optimize carrying out such tasks around the time of a ship's stay in a port, ship-owners resort to services of ship agents.Ship Agent is a ship-owner's trustee acting on the ship-owner's instructions, on the ship-owner's behalf and in the ship-owner's interest. Such standing determines relation and interaction between the master of the ship and the agent. As the master of the ship is recognized as a representative of the ship-owner and the agent merely as his trustee, should any disputes arise between them, the master's decision shall have the upper hand. The master, though, should give due consideration to the agent's opinion since the latter will be better acquainted with the local regulations and those of the port, he will be well-experienced at settling commercial problems, etc. It is through the mediation of the ship agent that the ship-owner will officially contact the cargo-owner, stevedoring companies and port authorities and bodies playing a part in servicing vessels in the port. It is an obligation of the ship agent to fulfill the ship-owner's commands and instructions.

For his service, the agent is remunerated by the ship-owner at the rates quoted by Ukraine's Ministry of Transport.


Agent's obligations will normally include:
fulfilling all formalities and requirements connected with the vessel's entering the port and departing from it, such as customs and sanitary examinations, paying established duties and dues, obtaining various documents, etc;
providing the ship timely with tugs and pilots;
rendering assistance to facilitate loading/unloading procedures;
procuring fuel, provisions, water and other needful resources for the ship;
informing the ship-owner regularly about the vessel's arrival, the progress of loading and auxiliary procedures and other essential circumstances of the vessel's stay in the port as well as the ship's departure and the amount of load on board;
paying, at the ship-owner's expense, all duties, dues and bills on the ship;
drawing and legalizing documents;
informing the ship-owner and master of the vessel about port's regulations, rules, etc.;
participating in investigations to do with accidents and drawing up statements and reports connected with accidents, check-ups and expert examinations;
carrying out individual orders of the master and the ship-owner.
Ship agent firms will not usually fulfill all the above actions themselves. But as those obligations are the agents' responsibility, they will conclude agreements with stevedoring, tugging, bunker and other companies.

The quality of the service rendered by the agent depends to a certain degree on the correct action of the ship master. Primarily, this concerns fulfilling a number of conditions facilitating the agent's work. The ship master must well in advance inform the agent about:
the expected time of the vessel's arrival at the port;
the need to procure with fuel, provisions, materials, etc. for the ship.
Failure to duly advise the agent of the ship's arrival and file requests for needed supplies may lead to claims from various bodies of the port and extend the time necessary to fulfill those requests by the agent.

In performing their activities, the agent will be governed by Ukraine's Merchant Shipping Code