Always Afloat is a A contract term requiring that the vessel not rest on the ground. In some ports the ship is aground when approaching or at berth.
In order to prevent a vessel from being ordered to proceed to a berth where she cannot load or discharge without touching the ground or a berth which can only be reached safely after discharging part of the cargo into lighters or which can only be reached on spring tidal conditions, the so-called "always safely afloat clause" is inserted in the charterparty. This clause may read as follows:
“ . . . the vessel shall proceed to . . . or so near thereto as she may safely get and lie afloat . . . and being so loaded the vessel shall proceed to . . . or so near thereto as she tray safely get and lie always afloat there deliver the cargo, . . ."
In some ports where the bottom consists of soft mud, it may be agreed that the vessel may lie safely aground at low tide that is "Not always afloat but safely aground" (NAABSA).