A ship owner is the actual owner of a commercial ship and is normally involved in the shipping sector. In the normal commercial sense of the word, a shipowner is somebody who finances and equips a ship, typically for shipping cargo at a particular harbor or port, either for delivery to some destination or on a personal hire basis. As the owner, you are ultimately responsible for the safe return of your ship when it is hired or when it is empty. You would also be held responsible for the expenses entailed in keeping the vessel in good working condition.
The responsibilities of a ship owner include the management of the ship including its maintenance, supply, safety as well as insurance matters. You also have to deal with docking fees, keeping the vessel in good working order, as well as dealing with any kind of accidents that may happen on board. For instance, if there happens to be an accident which requires you to abandon the ship and seek help, you would have to pay the costs of their rescue and repatriation. You should keep track of the changing rates of the wholesale or retail price of your goods, so that you can charge your customers reasonably. If you feel that you are capable enough to handle such responsibilities, ship owners tend to engage the services of shipping agents who will take care of all these issues and leave the heavy responsibility to them.
However, ship owners are not the only ones who are in charge of their ship. A ship’s master or crew is also in charge of everything onboard the ship. If you are considering becoming a ship owner, it would be wise to first do some research regarding the subject. There are plenty of sources from which you can gather information about ship ownership, as well as about the shipmaster and crew. You can always inquire from ship owners themselves, or those who have already sailed on such ships.