These surveys note the condition of the ship at commencement or completion of a charter, covering an inspection of that area of a ship (the deck, bulwarks and rails, deck houses, cargo gear, hatch covers and holds) in which damage is most likely to occur during loading or discharge.

In addition, the surveyor would examine the ship’s statutory certificate (recording the date of issue and expiry), and note details of the ship, life boats and rafts, main engine, the ship’s mooring system and condition of the mooring lines, and a general description of the condition of the accommodation and engine room.

More often than not, the surveyor is also required to check the quantity of bunkers on board at time of survey. On occasions it is also necessary to calculate the quantity on board, at the time the charter party commences or ends, where this is different to the on /off  hire survey.

During the inspection, all defects will be noted and recorded in such a way that some one else can find it. Thus any damage that has occurred during the period of a charter can be identified and if necessary repaired. The inspection should be done in daylight, with the hatches fully open and the holds empty and clean as under any other conditions, defects can be and are missed. Although not strictly part of the survey, the surveyor should note in his report that amount of rust in the holds, particularly if the rust is loose, as this can play a big part in determining the amount of ‘cleaning’ that may be required for some cargoes.

When writing the report, if as in the case of hatch coamings, repetitive descriptions are involved, it is preferable to write a general description of the item and record the defects only under the various hatches.

On completion of on / off hire survey,  it is quite common for owner to request surveyor to issue a delivery certificate. This is proof that the on / off hire survey took place and confirms the time at which change of responsibility takes effect.