The latest edition of this contract is SHIPMAN 2024.

Copyright in SHIPMAN 2009 is held by BIMCO.


Supporting documents

The  below explanatory notes for SHIPMAN 2009 are also available as an e-book from Witherbys.

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The  explanatory notes for SHIPMAN 2009 are available as an e-book from Witherbys.

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In the 10 years since the ’98 edition was published there have been many developments in the ship management industry – most notable the coming into force of the ISM and ISPS Codes. While SHIPMAN 98 touches upon responsibilities under ISM, much more has been learned about the interplay between the owners and the managers in respect of the Code in the intervening years. In 2007 BIMCO’s Documentary Committee felt that SHIPMAN could benefit from an overall review to reflect changes in ship management practice and the implementation of new legislation.

Given the importance of SHIPMAN to the ship management sector BIMCO has undertaken a sensitive revision of the agreement to ensure that the fundamental principles of the form are maintained. The fundamental principles that SHIPMAN established when it was first issued in 1988 and which have become in many respects the “law” of ship management are carefully preserved in the new edition but are spelled out with greater clarity.

When SHIPMAN was last revised, the CREWMAN agreements were updated the year following the publication of SHIPMAN. This resulted in a few inconsistencies in the text of parallel provisions. To avoid this problem and to ensure consistency across the whole suite of standard management agreements, BIMCO has revised SHIPMAN and CREWMAN A and B simultaneously which has brought the benefit of a greater degree of harmonisation than before.


A subcommittee of experts drawn from the industry spent two years working on the revision of SHIPMAN 98 and CREWMAN. The subcommittee consisted of representatives with previous experience from earlier revision work on SHIPMAN and CREWMAN as well as representatives from shipowners and well-known ship management companies. Club expertise was provided by ITIC.
BIMCO would like to express its grateful thanks to the following subcommittee members for their extensive and valuable work on this project and, in particular, to Chris Hilton for chairing the subcommittee:

  • Chris Hilton, Eversheds LLP, Newcastle (Subcommittee Chairman)
  • Tom Bang-Olsen, T. Klaveness Shipping AS, Oslo (Owner member)
  •  Costas Maounis, Phoenix Energy Navigation, Athens (Owner member)
  •  Matthias Müller, Bernard Schulte GmbH, Hamburg (Owner)
  • Andreas Andreaou, Columbia Shipmanagment, Limassol (Manager)
  •  Craig Brown, V. Ships, London (Manager)
  • Stuart Munro, ITIC, London (Club)


Key objectives

The key objectives in revising SHIPMAN were: 

  • Updating the standard agreement to reflect current commercial ship management practice and any relevant changes in the law.
  • Ensuring that the basic principles and structure of the existing agreement are maintained.
  • Improving the clarity and layout of the agreement.
  • Harmonising, wherever possible, the provisions of SHIPMAN and the two CREWMAN agreements.

Overall structure

The original structure and nature of the agreement has generally been retained, whilst provisions have been updated on the basis of developments since 1998. Parallel revisions of all three management agreements have been done in order to ensure consistency. The revised SHIPMAN can be used as a one-stop shop in respect of most ship management services, including technical and crew management. Both the ISM and ISPS Codes have been defined and, in recognition of the importance of these Codes in the industry, the definition of and reference to the “Company” is one of the cornerstones of the revised SHIPMAN. The Company’s name is required to be stated in a box upon entering into the agreement, unless the Code does not apply, in which case “not applicable” should be entered. Any changes thereafter should be notified in a timely manner.

Layout and format

To aid and improve clarity and layout for ease of reading, the agreement has been divided into five sections, with some clauses restructured and reworded. The Sections are as follows:

Section 1 – Basis of the Agreement
Section 2 – Services
Section 3 – Obligations
Section 4 – Insurance, Budgets, Income, Expenses and Fees
Section 5 – Legal, General and Duration of Agreement

The two-column layout has been replaced with a single column using a larger and easier to read font size. The new design will also make the agreement easier to work with electronically using BIMCO’s idea document editing system.

Crew Management Services

The crew management services section of SHIPMAN 2009 has perhaps undergone the most noticeable changes to the agreement. The main changes have been made to strengthen the crew management provisions consistent with the CREWMAN A and B agreements. BIMCO recognises that some parties prefer to use SHIPMAN even when the agreement is only for crew management purposes, even though BIMCO recommends the use of the specialist standard crew management agreement, CREWMAN A (on an agency basis). To assist in this and also to make SHIPMAN’s crewing provisions more comprehensive for when it is used for crew management purposes together with other management services, we have harmonised the crewing provisions more comprehensive by streamlining the crewing provisions of SHIPMAN 2009 with those of CREWMAN A (Cost Plus Fee) 2009.

One of the areas in which SHIPMAN 98 was felt to no longer reflect current practice concerns the validity of medical certificates. The previous three month validity requirement has been replaced with a requirement that crew medical certificates should be valid at the time the crew member joins the vessel and remain valid for the period of service. In addition, the revised agreement introduces an option for the parties to agree a higher medical standard than that required by the flag state.

On the issue of working language on board the vessel, SHIPMAN has been amended to emphasise that a command of the English language for every crew member is not a strict requirement. In the revised SHIPMAN there is  a common working language on board the vessel, which need not be English. However, this is qualified by a requirement for that crew to have a sufficient command of the English language to enable them to perform their duties safely, e.g., those who are involved in ship to ship and/or ship to shore communications.

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